Bold Flavors in Store for Summer Grilling, Forecast Finds

What's influencing popular flavors on the grill this summer? Big spice profiles, regional American twists, adventurous global inspirations, and new tart-sweet combinations will all play a part in summer cuisine, according to the new McCormick Grill Mates and Lawry's Flavor Forecast 2011: Grilling Edition.

As the art of grilling continues to evolve, 73 percent of today's grillers say they are looking for the latest trends and techniques, the survey finds. In fact, three quarters of those surveyed like to layer flavors and ingredients.

"We see the growing obsession with bolder and more exciting tastes reach a fever pitch during grilling season," said Mary Beth Harrington of the McCormick Kitchens. "There's a real willingness to try new flavors and preparations. For example, now that grillers are confident in a basic grilled steak, they're adding big flavor with a zesty balsamic marinade and serving it sliced over a colorful salad, with a sweet and tangy blueberry dressing."

Flavor Forecast 2011: Grilling Edition has identified four trends that are firing up flavor this season:

-- The New Tart'n Sweet -- The American palate is waking up to the uplifting excitement of sour ingredients. Grill-side, these foods find invigorating partners in fruits and naturally sweet flavors.

-- Regional American Fire -- Unique local ingredients and proud regional techniques are gaining a new level of acclaim and influence.

-- Hot, Hotter, Hottest! -- From earthy ancho to smoky chipotle to the red hot pop of cayenne, grillers are creating dynamic taste experiences by mixing and matching heat and flavors.

-- Flames of Adventure -- Backyard chefs of all skill levels are more willing than ever to try something new on the grates. With daring flavor combinations and a hunger for excitement, they're exploring new global frontiers at the grill.

According to the report, these trends will come to life in five deliciously distinctive duos. The flavor combinations to watch are:

-- Smoke & Craft Brews -- Regional American beers are gutsy partners for the BBQ-inspired smoke notes that are being cleverly infused through a range of smoky ingredients and techniques.

-- Mustard & Sweet Onion -- Pleasingly pungent and biting, mustard is a lip-smacking counterpoint to the higher sugar content in mild sweet onions -- a taste of summer in the South.

-- Fiery Peppers & Grilled Corn -- No matter what level of heat you're seeking, a mash-up of peppers packs maximum impact. Sweet and smoky grilled corn delivers just the right contrast to offset the heat.

-- Paprika & Orange -- Colorful sweet paprika meets the citrusy pop of orange to create a range of grill party favorites with an international flair, spanning Latin, North African, Spanish and more.

-- Balsamic & Blueberry -- A sweet sign of summer, the fashionable blueberry joins tangy balsamic vinegar to put an attractive spin on sauces, marinades and salsas, as well as summertime sweets and beverages.

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