Meal Kits

Unicorn treats, rolled ice cream and other 2018 predictions for trendiest food

Artisan baked goods, hazy New England IPAs, poké bowls, farm-to-table restaurants — all food trends embraced wholeheartedly by Atlanta’s culinary scene and foodies alike. As 2017 rolls to a close, social media addicts look to what the next Instagram-worthy item is for 2018.

There are more than 154,000 Instagram posts hashtagged #UnicornFrappuccino following the national release of the hot pink and bright blue drink by Starbucks earlier this year, but Atlanta has its own unicorn treats to put it on the map. BB’s Bagels in Alpharetta bakes up unicorn-inspired, rainbow bagels to throw some schmear on. Duluth-based Mac Lab Bakery & Cafe regularly puts out multicolored macarons — delicate cookie sandwiches made from egg whites and almond flour, filled with a flavored cream — but it’s Fruity Pebbles unicorn macarons that are some of the first to get gobbled up.

Let the good times roll

Artisan ice cream scoops are out, and rolled artisan ice cream is in. In Atlanta, the place to grab this food trend is I-CE NY, owned by David Koonvirarak, whose college friend invented the sweet treat in Thailand six years ago. Rolled ice cream quickly grew to 250 locations in Thailand alone, joined by a number in the U.S.

“I decided that we should do something here in Atlanta. We decided it would be on Buford Highway,” Koonvirarak said. “Buford Highway is kind of like my favorite area to come and get food, but a lot of places there are third-generation Oriental restaurants. I want to change that. I want to have the contribution that changed the face of Buford Highway and invite more people to come to the area.”

And they flock to I-CE NY for this unusual style of serving ice cream. Rolled ice cream is created by pouring a liquid ice cream base on a special surface. The mix-ins, like cookies, are added, and the mixture is chopped and swirled over the surface until they achieve an ice cream consistency. Once that occurs, the ice cream is spread out into a thin sheet and then sections of it are rolled up and placed in a cup. Toppings are added, and the treat is served.

Though customers can order candy and cookie mix-ins, I-CE NY builds its menu on internationally inspired flavors like green tea and piña colada. In Atlanta, the most popular flavor is mango sticky rice.

“Some people drive to our store just to have that dessert. It is a play on Thai dessert, which is a sticky rice with mango. We use a coconut-infused sweet rice and we put that on top of our mango ice cream and it just pairs perfectly well together,” Koonvirarak said.

For the holidays, ice cream junkies can scream about chocolate and sweet cream peppermint ice cream, which features their choice of chocolate or sweet cream rolled ice cream mixed with Thin Mint cookies and crushed peppermints, garnished with sprinkles and more cookies.

Savor the trends

Though rolled ice cream and unicorn macarons may be perfect for foodies looking to satisfy a sweet tooth, there’s plenty to be desired on the other side of the spectrum. According to the National Restaurant Association, the top two food trends for 2018 are savory: new cuts of meat and housemade sauces.

C. Ellet’s may be one of the premier places for new cuts of meat and different preparations. The steakhouse in the Battery is the latest restaurant concept from Linton Hopkins, the name behind H&F Burger, Hop’s Chicken, H&F Bread, Holeman & Finch, Restaurant Eugene and the former Café at Linton’s in the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Though Holeman & Finch is also known for its in-house charcuterie, C. Ellet’s menu focuses on great steak and beef.

Diners can opt for a massive Tomahawk ribeye, weighing in at 38 ounces. This particular cut is a bone-in Angus ribeye served to look like the Braves logo. Thirty-ounce Porterhouse steaks and a more delicate Frenched presentation of filet mignon are also available. There’s also a dry-aged cheeseburger, which offers a more pungent depth of flavor than traditional ground beef.

If it is traditional ground beef you desire, however, the metro’s numerous burger boutiques’ — Yeah! Burger and Flip Burger Boutique, for starters — housemade condiments are menu staples. At Flip Burger, sauces like flavored mayonnaises and pomegranate ketchup are available, and Yeah! Burger offers its homemade Yeah! Sauce.

Home-cooked without the hassle

Many of Atlanta’s food trends require eating out, but when it comes to meal kits, eating in is well, in.

“There’s a growing recognition among people that food really is directly related to their health and that cooking with whole foods, not the grocery store but the ingredients, produces healthier outcomes,” said Judith Winfrey, president and co-founder of PeachDish. “What we do is put together kind of set recipes and all of the fresh ingredients you need to prepare them. We ship from a warehouse in Atlanta all over the country in little refrigerated boxes these meal kits.”

PeachDish’s meals are sourced locally, and Winfrey said she takes pride in writing a letter each month to customers telling them about their ingredients and the farms they’re from. The popularity of its business model hasn’t gone unnoticed: PeachDish was recognized by both Forbes and the New York Observer as the country’s best meal kit service.

“Meal kits make a really convenient way for people to prepare the foods they want to prepare. You don’t have to do a lot of the thinking, don’t have to do a lot of shopping,” Winfrey said.