The 10 Best Dishes That I Ate in 2012

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I know you’re probably sick of these end-of-the-year listicles, but after a year that took me all over the country, I just had to do a list of the 10 best dishes that I ate this year. I ate so much good food, in fact, that 2012 may very well have been the best eating year of my life. I mean, I went to The French Laundry this year (for our friend Diana’s 30th birthday) so that would make good sense. But most of these meals, as you you’ll see, weren’t super fancy… Many, in fact, were quite cheap. What I’m proudest of in considering this list is how I sussed out such exceptional food in so many different cities: I have you (especially those of you on Twitter) to thank for that. And now, without further ado, the 10 best things that I ate in 2012.

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The 10 Best Things That I Cooked in 2012

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You’ve gotta admit, I cooked some really good things this year. So many, in fact, that narrowing this list down to ten took some work. But I’m confident that these ten dishes are the dishes that dazzled the most, the ones that made me pat myself on the back most vigorously, praising my myself in a British accent: “Well done, my lad, well done!” So join me for a gay romp through a year of cooking in my new L.A. kitchen.

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What To Buy The Food Lover In Your Life

If you’re anything like me, you leave things until the last minute. And presumably many of you will be doing some last minute holiday shopping this weekend, scrambling through malls, climbing over parked cars, desperate to find gifts for the food lover in your life. Allow me to help! Here are 10 things that I think any food lover would be glad to get under the tree on Tuesday morning.

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Anything Goes Salad

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After my New York Public Library event with Deb Perelman (there were 230 people there!), I’m rethinking my whole blog.

Somehow, through my aggressive questioning, I forced Deb to give up her blogging secrets. And the one that’s really staying with me the most is the fact that she cooks during the day to have daylight for her photos. That’s why her blog pictures always look so good. It doesn’t happen at night. My blog happens at night. Again, I have to rethink everything.

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The Meadow (Land of 1000 Salts)

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One of the most ridiculous things about my old West Village existence–living there, as I did, from 2009 through 2011–is that I never really noticed The Meadow.

I think I thought it was a sandwich place. Or maybe a boutique shop for expensive olive oil. Had I known what lay in store behind its doors, I would’ve gone there all the time. Thankfully, I made a point to visit it last week before meeting my publisher for lunch at The Little Owl. When you see what I found inside, you’ll understand why I’m already planning my next trip back.

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Fear of Mayo

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Jimmy Fallon likens it to pus. Last night at dinner, the idea of it made Craig’s cousin Katie scrunch up her face in disgust. And me? I used to have nightmares about this female camp counsellor with a hairy lip who ate an egg salad sandwich with dabs of mayo stuck all along the perimeter of her lips. Just thinking about it now makes me cry a little on the inside.

What is it about mayonnaise that provokes such disgust and fear in so many people? And what can they do to get over it? Allow me to speak from personal experience.

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Rustic Vegetable Ragu

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Cooking without a recipe. How do you do it?

You start with ingredients. My favorite way to do that is to open my refrigerator to see what’s there: on Friday night (when Craig was working late and his parents were flying in from Seattle) I saw carrots, I saw celery, I saw onions. I decided to cut them all up into big chunky pieces.

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A New Commenting System

Hey A.G. readers, check it out: we’ve installed a new commenting system called Disqus that’s so much better than the system we were using. For starters, you don’t have to log in to leave a comment. And there are all these nifty new features: it tells you as people are leaving new comments, allows you to respond individually to people’s comments in a thread (I also think you can vote if you like a comment) and there’s something called “Community” that shows Amateur Gourmet readers with profiles who leave frequent comments. You’re going to love it… now go leave some comments and give it a try!