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.

Foodwise, I made a list of my Top 5 Favorite Dishes I made this year. Here they are; click the titles to go to the posts.

1. Luisa’s Potato Focaccia

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2. Improvised Sugar Snap Pea Pasta

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3. Braised Monkfish with Cherry Tomatoes & Basil

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4. Rigatoni Bolognese

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5. Spiced Eggplant Salad

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These are all dishes I would absolutely make again; especially the potato focaccia, which I’ve already made several times again since. Honorable mentions must go, of course, to the best broccoli of my life, Molly’s slow-roasted tomatoes, and the no-knead bread, all of which are certain to enter the pantheon of great dishes made in my kitchen.

I’ve already told you about the Top 10 Restaurant Dishes I ate this year, so let’s talk about food books.

My favorite food book I read this year wasn’t published this year or last year, but more than 20 years ago: that’s Craig Claiborne’s “A Feast Made for Laughter” which I wrote about here. That post, in fact, may be my favorite post I wrote this year (thank you to those who left kind comments about it.)

Cookbook-wise, my Top 3 picks are:

Martha Stewart’s Cookies,

Second Helpings of Roast Chicken,

and Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics.

And that concludes the food section of my year-end wrap up.

As for non-food stuff, here’s a quick list of my 2008 favorites:

Favorite Movie: IMDB says this was released in 2007, but I’m pretty sure I saw it in 2008: “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days”. Talk about harrowing, this movie–about one woman’s attempt to get an abortion in 1980s Romania–was thrilling, terrifying, exciting, even funny in parts. It’s impossible to watch this movie without being riveted, love it or hate it–and it’s entirely memorable.

On the lighter side, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I loved “Enchanted” which–now that I look–was also released in 2007.

Holy crap, what movies did I love in 2008? I loved “Milk,” of course. “Rachel Getting Married.” I liked “Wall-E” but I’m not ga-ga over it.

My least favorite movie of 2008 was many people’s most favorite: I really didn’t get “The Dark Knight.” Heath Ledger’s performance aside, to me, it was a big murky, miserable mess. Maybe I need to see it again to reevaluate.

Favorite Music: No question, my favorite CD of 2008 was Aimee Mann’s “@#%&! Smilers.” The song “31 Today” which has an awesome YouTube video which I’ll embed below, is like an anthem for anyone entering their 30s (which I’m about to do in February). Other notable CDs I enjoyed this year: Jenny Lewis’s “Acid Tongue” (which has my favorite song of the year, the title song from the CD–it’s beautiful), Beirut’s “Gulag Orkestar” which I heard on Sirius radio and instantly loved, Lucinda Williams’s “Little Honey,” MGMT’s “Oracular Spectacular,” and–most definitely–Elbow’s “The Seldom Seen Kid.” That last one could very easily bump Aimee Mann for the top spot, but I just love this “31 Today” song.

Favorite Books: Even though the year began with “Kafka on the Shore,” this year was a year of catching up on the classics for me. Far and away, the most mind-blowing book that I finally hunkered down and read was “Anna Karenina.” If you’re anything like me, you probably thought you knew the story already–the whole tragic heroine “Madame Bovary” thing–but you’d be dead wrong. What makes the book remarkable is how it balances everything: comedy, drama, religion, romance, birth, death, and everything in between. It’s a bold statement, but if ever there was a book that contained EVERYTHING, this might be it. I can’t recommend it enough.

On the lighter side, but still a classic, was “The Picture of Dorian Gray” which really had me laughing in parts. I also enjoyed “A Confederacy of Dunces,” “Pride & Prejudice,” and–though it was tough to get through–“The Tin Drum.”

The one book I couldn’t get through at all was “The Savage Detectives” by Roberto Bolano. Maybe I’ll pick it up again later, but by page 270 I just didn’t care about anyone enough to keep reading. Which is why all this buzz about his newer book–2666–has me doubtful. If anyone of you read it, let me know if it’s better than “The Savage Detectives”; and if anyone’s finished “The Savage Detectives” and thinks I should soldier on through it, please inspire me in the comments.

And that, my friends, is my 2008 in review. I better go get ready: we’re having an army of people over to our barbell-shaped apartment tonight for a bit of a get-together. I have the vodka, the gin, and the rum, but we have no mixers or sparkling drinks. I did make gingerbread blondies, David Lebovitz’s butter crunch toffee and holiday snack mix, so at least they’ll be well fed. Have a Happy New Year everyone!

UPDATE: After talking to Craig, I remembered that my favorite movie of 2008 was “Vicky Christina Barcelona” and that honorable mention should go to “Happy-Go-Lucky.” Also: my favorite TV show this year was “Summer Heights High” which, by the end, I found strangely moving. “Mr. G: The Musical” rivals the Blaine musical in “Waiting For Guffman.”

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36 comments

  1. Happy New Year hope you and Craig have a very good and successful 2009. By the way i also love 31 today although i dont know what that says about me maybe that im a bit beyond my years

  2. I love your blog and book and think you did pretty well with big boys and girls.

    I bought Martha Stewart’s Cookies for my sister for Christmas…maybe I can borrow it.

  3. What!! Not Ratatouile?? oh ya, that was 07….Adam that video will come back to haunt you when you are very very famous….it is one your mother should save on a dvd to show the grandchildren. La Dame actually looks quite ‘farbishinah’ as a person but her makeup artist deserves a daytime Emmy.

  4. Happy New Year!!!

    Just wanted to say again how much I enjoy your blog–since I discovered it in 2008! :>

  5. Hi Adam,

    I just wanted to say that you kind of remind me of Ray Romano from Everybody loves Raymond in that video clip with Rachel Ray.

  6. Yes I ummed and ahhed about doing mine too but then it just didn’t feel right moving on without it. A very happy new year to you – wishing Amateur Gourmet all the best for 2009.

  7. Happy New Years! Thank you for taking the time to share with us your stories! We have enjoyed them and been inspired by them!

    Have a wonderful year…and we will cheer you on as you head into the ring with the big boys and girls!!

    Cheers!

  8. Happy New Year, Adam! Thanks for a great 2008 roundup. I’m happy to say I got your book for Christmas and look forward to reading it :)

  9. Funny, while reading about your favorite movies, I thought “didn’t Adam really enjoy ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’?” See, we’re paying attention!

    And how awesome that the video for the soul-baring, bittersweet “31 Today” was directed by Bobcat Goldthwait. Kittens in tutus never seemed so apropos.

    Thank you for so generously sharing another year of your adventures in the food world, your family and friends, your favorite music-books-movies-theater, and your warm, wonderful sense of humor. We’re rooting for you in 2009!

  10. Fab wrap up with great dishes that need to be tried. As for the awkward with RR – don’t sweat it *LOL* you did wonderfully at SOBE!

    Happy New Year!

  11. Oh dear…I was so uncomfortable for you. That’s so weird about Rachael Ray – she’s so bubbly and talkative on her shows!

    And anyway, who WOULDN’T want to chat with you?!?!?!?

  12. Vicky Cristina Barcelona is actually one of the main motivating factors behind my decision to move to Barcelona next year. I had considered Spain before but that movie really sold me on it in a very profound way.

    Also, I am in complete agreement about The Dark Knight. I don’t know if the hype ruined it for me or what but I thought it failed on so many levels and really disappointed me. I’m also planning to watch it again, just in case.

  13. Hello! I’ve been lurking around reading for a few months now (pretty much since I became a language student and suddenly had a lot of free time on my hands) but thought I’d comment and say happy new year! And also – I love Summer Heights High too! I actually hadn’t realised it had made it out of Australia, I knew we exported out Kath and Kim (and they sadly butchered it with an American version) but who knew the exploits of Mr G, Jaim’e (forgot where the apostrophe goes) and Jonas would be popular elsewhere! :o)

    And of course thanks for writing regularly and keeping me amused and gastropornographically happy!

  14. Hey Adam,

    I come to your site all the time but this is my first time to comment. I thought that video with Rachel Ray was soooooo funny. She didn’t even want to look your way. What was up with that??? I thought she was talkative…. :) So funny! Wishing you a Very Happy 2009!!!

    Love,

    Tammy and Susie

    “The 100 Calorie Girsl!”

  15. Hey Adam,

    I come to your site all the time but this is my first time to comment. I thought that video with Rachel Ray was soooooo funny. She didn’t even want to look your way. What was up with that??? I thought she was talkative…. :) So funny! Wishing you a Very Happy 2009!!!

    Love,

    Tammy and Susie

    “The 100 Calorie Girsl!”

  16. Hey Adam,

    I come to your site all the time but this is my first time to comment. I thought that video with Rachel Ray was soooooo funny. She didn’t even want to look your way. What was up with that??? I thought she was talkative…. :) So funny! Wishing you a Very Happy 2009!!!

    Love,

    Tammy and Susie

    “The 100 Calorie Girsl!”

  17. Hey Adam,

    I come to your site all the time but this is my first time to comment. I thought that video with Rachel Ray was soooooo funny. She didn’t even want to look your way. What was up with that??? I thought she was talkative…. :) So funny! Wishing you a Very Happy 2009!!!

    Love,

    Tammy and Susie

    “The 100 Calorie Girls!”

  18. Hey Adam,

    I come to your site all the time but this is my first time to comment. I thought that video with Rachel Ray was soooooo funny. She didn’t even want to look your way. What was up with that??? I thought she was talkative…. :) So funny! Wishing you a Very Happy 2009!!!

    Love,

    Tammy and Susie

    “The 100 Calorie Girls!”

  19. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to meet Mario Batali! He is one of my inspirations in my own kitchen. Anyway, thrilled to link to your blog. The more food, the better! Not sure how I don’t weigh over 200 lbs by now…

  20. ZOMG! Rachelle Ray actually kept her mouth

    shut for 15 whole seconds and her head

    didn’t explode. * grabs journal, scribbles

    furiously *

  21. Haha. I definitely would have done the same thing (in regards to Rachel Ray). I’m actually really shocked she looks just as good…I don’t know, not live I guess. But yeah, I don’t blame you…though, you should have said something. Compliment her on her hair or something. lol.

  22. Haha. I definitely would have done the same thing (in regards to Rachel Ray). I’m actually really shocked she looks just as good…I don’t know, not live I guess. But yeah, I don’t blame you…though, you should have said something. Compliment her on her hair or something. lol.