2008 Wrap-Up

You’re probably sick of all these 2008 wrap-ups (someone over at Serious Eats certainly is!) so I’ll try to keep mine short and sweet.

2008 was a wild year for me. In my job as host of The FN Dish I met many of my food world heroes: among them, Alice Waters, Mario Batali, Anthony Bourdain and so on. But the clip above, my “23 Awkward Seconds with Rachael Ray” is the moment I’ll cherish forever. It’s just the purest, most authentic representation of everything I was feeling in that moment; my 2nd day on the job, thrown right into the ring with Rachael who, after I said hello, didn’t seem very open to conversation. That was 2008 for me: the year a measly little blogger jumped into the ring with the big boys (or girls, as the case may be) and sweated. Visibly. I think it’s rather funny.

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Adam “The Amateur” vs. Randy “The Ram”


I take it most of you are familiar now with “The Wrestler,” the sensational new movie from Darren Aronofsky and starring the irascible Mickey Rourke?

What many of you might not know is that many of the characters who show up frequently on this blog had a hand in making the movie. First and foremost is my friend Mark, Diana’s betrothed; remember the engagement dinner I cooked for them? And our trip to Rhode Island? Well Mark co-produced “The Wrestler.” Many of our conversations over the past year were conversations about all the behind-the-scenes shenanigans that went on making the movie. When we talked about it, we never knew it would be this big; and now it’s huge. And I’m very proud of Mark: we saw the movie with him on opening night, and it really blew me away. We applauded when his name showed up in the credits.

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Holiday Bounty


When it comes to gift-giving, it’s good to have a thing. Those without a thing are hard to buy gifts for: you choose between scarves and candles and ponder the merits of fuchsia vs. chartreuse or hyacinth vs. gardenia. But when someone has a thing, you just get them something that fits their thing. Like shopping for Bono or Michael Jordan or Sigfried & Roy–you buy them music, basketballs and magic trick sets, of course; and everyone’s happy. And those that have a thing can buy stuff for other people based on their own thing: like Bono can make you a mix tape, Michael Jordan can give you Air Jordans, and Sigfried & Roy can give you a white tiger. Having a thing is awesome.

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The Kindness of Food Bloggers


What’s worse than traveling during the holidays? The answer: traveling from one snow storm to ANOTHER snow storm during the holidays.

That’s what I attempted to do yesterday in what may have been the worst travel day of my life (though I’m sure you’ve experienced worse.) Let’s not talk about the 12 hours on the plane, the refueling in Salt Lake City, and the waiting for a gate to open once we arrived in Seattle. Instead, let’s focus on my helpless situation once I got off the plane. You see Craig, whose family lives in Bellingham (two hours north of Seattle), was stuck in Las Vegas because his connecting flight was canceled (he’d left the day before). The Bel-Air Airporter bus which goes from the Seattle Airport to Bellingham was all sold out; the idea of taking a car there was ludicrous (the snow was pummeling down from the sky.) My only option was to spend the night in Seattle and, utterly exhausted, I flipped open my phone and though Craig has many friends who would’ve let me stay with them, my eyes fixed immediately upon a food blogger friend who you all know and love: Molly, aka Orangette.

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Heidi’s Lentil Soup


Hillary Clinton says “it takes a village,” but I think it takes a recipe.

What I mean is sometimes you think you don’t like a certain dish because you’ve had so many bad versions of that dish, but then suddenly you encounter a recipe for that dish that takes you by surprise and you find yourself–against your best instincts–loving that dish. And that’s exactly what happened last week, on a frigid, freezing day, when I made Heidi’s lentil soup.

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Katy’s Reindeer Cupcakes


My friend Katy is this blog’s godmother: she and her husband Josh were the ones who inspired me to start it five years ago. Just today, I noticed something awesome: Katy made reindeer cupcakes and posted them on her Facebook profile. Ironically, Katy–the food blog inspirer–does not have a food blog of her own so I insisted that she do a guest post that would explain to you, my beloved readers, how to make reindeer cupcakes of your own. Katy outright refused. Ok, she didn’t outright refuse but she wasn’t rushing to get it done. So I suggested we do an IM interview in which I ask her over IM chat how she made her reindeer cupcakes. What follows is what transpired.

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The No-Knead Bread


If you haven’t heard about the no-knead bread by now, you clearly don’t read many food blogs (or newspapers, for that matter.) Last year, in The New York Times–actually, TWO years ago in The New York Times (the article was published November 8, 2006! Boy, I’m way behind on making this)–Mark Bittman coaxed a recipe from master bread baker Jim Lahey for perfect bakery-quality bread at home. Shockingly, the recipe required no work, no kneading of any kind. The food world was astonished. Food bloggers went ga-ga. I watched them go ga-ga. And, finally, last week I decided to go ga-ga myself.

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Win Two Tickets to IRON CHEF AMERICA


I was late this year to Menu For Hope, Pim’s awesome fundraiser that, last year, raised more than $100,000 for the U.N. World Food Program, because I was trying to muster up the coolest prize I could: two tickets to Iron Chef America.

It’s quite a prize because it’s so exclusive. Unlike other TV shows that tape in New York, you can’t get tickets by sending in a postcard or writing an e-mail to Food Network; Iron Chef America is invite-only. To this day, I still get e-mails from people who’ve read my post about going to a taping two years ago who want to know how they can get tickets. Well there’s a simple answer: you can’t! That is, until now.

To win these two tickets, it’s really simple. Just go to the donation page by clicking here and bid on this prize by entering the prize code: UE27. For each $10 donation, you buy one raffle ticket; you can buy as many tickets as you’d like–the more you buy, the better your odds of winning. All the specifics are on the donation page, so read them carefully before entering. Also, be advised: Iron Chef America tapes in New York in June, so you’ll have to find a way to get here yourself and you will have no control over the date for which the tickets will be issued. We’re very lucky to get these tickets at all, so let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth!

Thanks so much to everyone at Food Network who made this possible–especially Bruce, Lauren and Rachael–and thanks to Pim, again, for organizing this great event. Make sure to check out the master list of other prizes on Pim’s site and bid as much as you can; it’s for a great cause. As for the Iron Chef tickets, in the words of my uncle: let the battle begin!