State of the Union

Looking back on a year of conspicuous consumption

Before we go hurtling into a new decade of dining, let's reflect on the eating and drinking artillery we'll be carrying into 2010.

Here's what the aughts brought:

Farms in Sheep's Clothing Step into a dining room and you might also be on a farm. Restaurants and hotels have embraced the agrarian life, harvesting their own produce on-site. Wineries–which are already in the grape-growing business–have added other crops to their rosters, producing delicious results. And new, prefab chicken coops make it easy to turn a backyard into a full-fledged poultry farm.

Personality Change For the most part, we champion consistency, but this past year we found a series of alcoholic identity crises that we're completely behind. Both wine and whiskey took a page from the beer book, while brewers looked all over the map for inspiration–some went to their grapey brethren, while others reached across the beverage aisle for more lively models.

Sandwiched In The shape-shifting sandwich has multiplied to a point where we'd be happy eating one at every meal. The morning hours call for these waffle-starring variations. For lunch, we'll take the Korean route (though technically wraps, their convenience factor makes them sandwiches in spirit). High-end chefs have elevated the lowly lunch-box staple to dinner-worthy heights, and for dessert, we'll reach for this decadent twist on the ice cream sandwich.

Socialist Movement Forget the glossy photos and high-maintenance recipes; this year's cookbooks were geared toward the masses. Expletive-ridden, slapdash dinner parties and fuss-free pull-apart biscuits shared the shelves with celebrity chefs offering revolutionarily simple recipes. And thanks to a new hive-minded recipe project, the masses will soon have their own byline.