2011 Highlights

December 26, 2011 | By | COMMENTS

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It’s not every year that you finish a cookbook, move to a new city and find a used DVD of Doug Henning’s “The Magic Show” at Amoeba Music. But that’s what 2011 delivered, along with trips to Portland, Oregon, California (where I ate with many food bloggers), Atlanta and–a personal favorite–New Orleans, Louisiana. (We fell in love with it.) Come along with me, then, as we explore the year’s highlights before we tumble into 2012.

Most Popular Post of 2011
How To Always Get A Seat at a Crowded Coffee Shop. (That’s according to Google Analytics which measures these sorts of things.)

My Favorite Post of 2011
The Best Doughnuts in L.A. (A Comic Odyssey). (It’s my favorite because it’s the post I spent the most time creating and, well, I got to eat a lot of doughnuts.)

The Dish I’m Proudest of Making
Lasagna Alla Bolognese al Forno

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(Runner Up: Porchetta at Home.)

Favorite Original Recipes
Peppadewed Pork Chops with Cauliflower
Kitchen Sink Pasta Salad with Yogurt and Herbs
Oatmeal with Ginger, Coconut Milk & Lime

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Favorite Other People’s Recipes
Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe (from Mark Ladner; the best version of this dish I’ve ever had).
Rachel Wharton’s Pimento Cheese (my go-to recipe from now on).
Lisa Fain’s Seven Chile Chili (may be the best chili I’ve ever made).

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Go-To Dish of The Year
Spicy Spatchcocked Chicken with Cous Cous & Salsa Verde. (I can’t count the number of times I made this for dinner guests this year. It’s affordable, tasty and filling. As the year progressed, I started making the salsa verde in a mortar and pestle; more recently, I started playing with the cous cous recipe. I even adapted the dish for vegans by making cauliflower steaks instead of chicken. No matter how I did it, it was always a hit and remains one of my favorite things to make.)

Favorite Restaurant Meal
Cochon. The salad involved limp iceberg, and that would normally be a deal breaker, but the rest of this meal at Donald Link’s flagship restaurant in New Orleans was so decadent, so pleasure-inducing, it’s hard to think of another meal from this year that tops it. I’ll dream about those dinner rolls (made with lard), the broiled oysters, the rabbit stew (with dumplings), the suckling pig with apples, the hushpuppies and peach pie forever and ever more.

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Most Uncomfortable Restaurant Meal
Craig’s birthday dinner at Soto where we ordered tasting menus and, after the first course was served, I realized I suddenly had no appetite and felt sick for the rest of the meal. All that beautiful food was wasted on me (but not Craig).

Best Ever Bites
Sushi at Sushi Zo
Dinner Rolls (from Donald Link’s Cookbook)
Biscuits at The Silver Skillet in Atlanta

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Favorite Sandwich
The Captain’s Daughter at Saltie

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New Culinary Techniques That I Learned in 2011
Toasting Your Oatmeal
Mustard Bottle Vinaigrette
Softening Brown Sugar Without a Microwave
How To Make Authentic Guacamole

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How To Eat a Crawfish
Oven-Roasted Hamburgers
How To Fry Chicken For A Crowd

2011 Was The Year of Cocktails
This blog was a bit of a teetotaler before this year, now it’s a bit of a lush. There were posts about the following drinks; careful, you may get drunk just looking at the list:

The Negroni
Beer with Pickle Juice & Chili Salt
The French 75
A Basil Lime Daiquiri
A Raw Rhubarb Daiquiri

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The Sazerac
The Sidecar
and The Manhattan

Favorite Desserts That I Made This Year
Mississippi Mud Pie (From The Sky)
Sour Cream Coffee Cake (This earned raves from the folks at Food52.)
Hummingbird Cake

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Favorite Dessert That I Ate in 2011
The Homemade Snickers Bar at Tavern

Favorite New Gadget
My burr grinder.

Most Instructive Food Photography Lesson
This session with Penny De Los Santos.

Biggest Accidental Star Turn
The Day I Was on the Cooking Channel and Didn’t Know It

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Most Controversial Post
Let’s Not Be Paternalistic About Food. (Apparently, my friends in New York debated this post in my absence, some taking my side completely and others fully disagreeing with me. Wish I could’ve been there for the debate!)

Most Popular Guest Post
Alone With Your Ramen by Yuko Uchikawa

Most Terrifying Dish To Eat When I Thought About What Was In It
Boat Noodles at Pa-Ord (served with internal organs and thickened with blood). That said, it was delicious and I’d gladly eat it again.

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Most Embarrassing Blog Moment
When I wrote about the “vintage” cabinet in my new kitchen only to have a reader point out it’s from IKEA.

Scariest Moment
Craig’s appendectomy.

Most Accurate Culinary Prediction
My friend Rob predicted that Imperial Woodpecker in the West Village would be out of business by the fall. He was right.

Best Reason To Freeze Your Cherries During Cherry Season
Sour Cherry Coffee Cake in Winter.

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Most Scary-Sounding Ingredient That I Cooked With This Year
Zhenya’s Stinging Nettles.

Fanciest-Sounding Dish That I Made This Year
Salmon and Sorrel Troigros

Sexiest Picture of a Chocolate Chip Cookie That I Took This Year
This one of the warm chocolate chip cookie at Jacques Torres.

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Shortest-Lived Kitchen Obsession
Collecting Vintage Menus to Hang in My Kitchen.

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Most Colorful Breakfast
Purple Peruvian Potato Hash

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Most Dangerous Post
Revealing the secret of the line at Joe’s Stone Crab.

Favorite Food Movie
Kings of Pastry

Favorite Friend Who Won an Oscar
Luke.

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Favorite Movie of The Year
True Adolescents, of course. It’s now available on Netflix Instaplay! (And don’t forget: it was a New York Times Critic’s Pick.)

Books That I Read in 2011
Check back here for a link to a post on my Not Food Blog all about that.

That’s it for 2011, folks! We’re about to eat French Dip sandwiches with Craig’s parents in Bellingham and then we’re off to see “Tin Tin.” Hope you’re all having happy holidays.

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