The year of the conscious connoisseur – Times of India

The passion for running took fitness-cum-travel enthusiasts to Vietnam, Oman, Sweden, Denmark, England, Germany, South Africa, Thailand and many other countries. A growing breed of running freaks now travel the world to take part in global marathons. Rather than looking up long weekends or festive breaks, they check the global marathon calendar to plan their travel. What makes this running vacation or runcation more exciting than a regular trip is the ability to view a new place from an entirely different perspective. Running frees you from tourist traps, allows you to explore the secret nooks and crannies of a city or discover an outdoor wonder. Some seasoned tourists even take to running up mountains across the world.

No such thing as a good seasonThere was a time when people would prefer travelling during festive breaks and summer holidays. 2019, however, saw a rise in off-peak travel, with more travellers venturing to places

during off-season months, or to places that usually don't see people because of their extremely cold climates. Travellers are now picking their travel dates as per flight deals which drop after the peak season. This way, not only do they avoid large crowds but also save a lot of money by getting fabulous deals on flights and stays.

Lesson learnt

OvertourismWhile travel emerged as the most emancipating takeaway in 2019, it also emerged as a global problem. An over-travelling world caused mayhem at some locations across the world to an extent that governments had to put a ban on tourists. With massive crowds causing environmental degradation, cities around the world were seen asking one question: Is there anything to be done about being too popular? Social media and apps such as Instagram lead tourists to pitch over cliffs and clog vital roadways in search of the perfect pic, while travel booking sites are making restaurants, museums, and beaches discoverable, and thus ruinable. Can we save cities from tourist onslaught. Systematically? The debate will continue in the New Year.

Embracing minimalist travel How to pack minimally and travel around with a carry-on was one of the top travel searches this year! There is definitely a shift in the way travellers pack. People as well as brands are ditching oversized suitcases for chic carry-ons and sleek backpacks built to maximise space. Lets thank Marie Kondo for that!

Non-starterBleisure

Bleisure also known as business and leisure trips was a buzzword in 2019. Millennials contributed to a 20 per cent rise in the trend this year and many young professionals managed to make the most of their work trips by exploring culture, food, and local attractions of a destination by adding a few days to their itinerary. On the flipside, a lot of them experienced guilt for taking time off for a personal holiday, a fact corroborated by a recent study that reveals Indians do not take leave even on a vacation! This can only result in stress and decreased productivity. One must remember that vacation is a perk and one isnt necessarily neglecting work every time one unplugs.

Lessons learnt

Dont spin, just cookAnything and everything that gives a modern spin to a traditional Indian dish did not cut ice with diners. Also, the notion that trends like fancy fusion, cooking techniques or merely jazzing up plating methods will sell was dispelled this year. Diners became discerning in their choice of meals and chefs also realised that fancy culinary terms or tasteless tweakings to a traditional dish will not sell. Simple straightforward dishes, good cooking techniques and emphasis on quality ingredients became the order of the day as the year went by.

Zero waste and eco-friendlyFrom using leftover meat for preparing stocks to using every part of the ingredient in cooking, chefs and restaurants aggressively promoted zero-waste dining. From opting for paper straws, glass bottles and doing away with poly packaging, there was a visible effort to promote responsible eating out. Expect more places to jump on the bandwagon next year.

Non-startersBizarre combosActivated charcoal powder, chicken in sushi or nitrogen fumes in cocktails this was the year when diners stayed away from too much drama. Molecular gastronomy turned out to be a big flop as did bizarre pairing of ingredients or plating of dishes just to look cool.

Here to stayIndia on the Plate

From khichdi in various forms, pastas and pizzas made from locally sourced flour, local artisanal cheese and chocolates; junking exotic salmon and basa for Indian alternatives like bhetki this was the year of Indian produce. Chefs boasted of their culinary tours in unexplored Indian destinations, sought inspiration from cuisines from the Northeast and put mountain food on the plate. This has been a year when young chefs did more than lip service to regional Indian food and made an endeavour to promote local cuisines and ingredients. The trend of choosing fresh local produce over frozen imported goods has become the norm and is only expected to grow stronger next year.

Non-alcoholic CocktailsThe notion that people who cannot drink need not party was being aggressively challenged by the fast growing trend of non-alcoholic cocktails. And these were not sugar syrup loaded mocktails. Globally, bars popped up that served an extensive drinks menu sans alcohol. The most popular cocktails and beverages were

Concocted with no use of any spirit. These bars, that serve non-alcoholic distilled gins or beers and drinks based on them, became a huge hit. Expect this trend to finally gather steam in the coming year as many outlets are eager to get these non-alcoholic spirit brands to India and make it a part of their menu.

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The year of the conscious connoisseur - Times of India

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