The Rest of the Best of 2013


Ok, I confess, I really enjoy writing these year-end posts. Yesterday, I continued the ritual of writing up all the books that I read in a given year; here are The Books That I Read in 2013. Now it’s time to dig into the rest of the best, posts that shined in specific ways (best cake, best comments, best use of chickpeas) that didn’t make sense for any of my other round-up posts. You’ll also find out which movies, TV shows, albums, and plays Craig and I enjoyed the most this year. Away we go!

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The Top Ten Dishes That I Ate in 2013


The dish that you see above (Tiger Prawn Salami from Movida in Sydney, Australia) is not one of the Top Ten Dishes That I Ate in 2013. I put it there, though, to illustrate how well I ate this year and how difficult it was to narrow everything down to the ten best dishes. My year brought me to Birmingham, Alabama (the 7-layer pecan coconut cake from Bottega would be #11 on my list), Perth and Sydney Australia, New York, Washington, and all over the city I now call home, Los Angeles. In fact, you’ll notice that 6 of the 10 items on this list are to be found in L.A. and that’s not just because I live here. It’s because of all the cities that I visited this year, L.A. remains the most dynamic and exciting food-wise. Check out my list and see if you agree.

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Let’s Brunch at Lafayette


My trip to New York started with a favorite brunch spot going down the tubes and ended with a brunch spot that I loved so much, I went twice. That spot is Lafayette and it’s located, as the name might suggest, on Lafayette Street just south of the Astor Place stop on the 6 train and north of the Broadway/Lafayette stop on every other train. My first visit was with my friend Alex who you can see above modeling a $14 basket of pastries so good, we pretty much devoured the whole thing. Going to Lafayette and not ordering the pastry basket is like going to Disneyland and not riding the rides. You just can’t avoid it.

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Last Night’s Dinner: Saucy Chickpeas Over Rice

Hey folks, remember the days when I used to make videos on the fly and post them pretty regularly? Well, those days were long ago (more towards the beginning of my blog) so I’ll forgive you if you don’t know anything about them. Anyway, with Craig still in New York and my iPhone a more sophisticated video camera than anything I used in the past, I figured, “Why not just make a video for the hell of it?” And that’s what you see above: a casual video about the dinner I made Monday night. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys blog videos, you’re in for a treat; if you’re the kind of person who can’t watch them because you’re at work, it’s time for a new job. Anyway, let me know what you think in the comments. Maybe I’ll make more.

Dinner with Cara and Dara at La Vara


One time in grad school for dramatic writing, a teacher tore into me and called the play I was working on “sophomoric” and “juvenile.” Classmates called me afterwards to console me, and though I’m pretty much over it, sometimes I look back at that moment and wonder if she was right. In all of my efforts to be taken seriously, perhaps I was at my best when I made the Janet Jackson Breast Cupcake? Or Condoleeza Rice Pudding with Berries of Mass Destruction?

Take, for example, the dinner I had last week with friends in Brooklyn. I couldn’t get over the fact that two of the friends I was eating with were named Cara and Dara and we were eating at a restaurant called La Vara. Cara and Dara at La Vara. I told everyone I knew; I Tweeted about it. I told the waitress and the chef. At a certain point, you’d think I would’ve gotten over it, but no sirree. I find the title of this post endlessly amusing. In fact, I could just end it here but then you wouldn’t get to see the absolutely amazing food that we ate.

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The Top 10 Dishes That I Cooked in 2013


My word, I cooked up a storm in 2013. Usually when I go through the process of choosing my best dishes of the year, the list pretty much writes itself. This year I struggled to put this in any kind of order; and when you see the dishes on my “Honorable Mentions” list you’re going to wonder, as do I, why many of them didn’t make the Top 10. Well, truth be told, these kinds of lists are arbitrary and sometimes you just have to follow your gut (and Lord knows my gut is a lot larger this year because of all this food.) Still, I feel good about my rankings here because these ten dishes really do represent my biggest cooking break-throughs of the year; they almost all caught me off-guard, sweeping me off my feet in ways that I didn’t see coming. So here they are, the Top 10 Dishes That I Cooked in 2013.

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Sweet Potato and Brussels Sprout Hash


BeyoncĂ© and I have so much in common. While she was holding tight to her secret album, waiting until last night to release it, I was holding tight to this post, only wanting to share it at the perfect moment. And now, at last, on this Friday before a snowy New York weekend (a weekend in which I’m supposed to fly back to L.A.) I’m ready to share it with you. It’s probably the prettiest thing I’ve made in a long time and, like most of the best things, it was made completely on the fly, using up all of the items in my fridge before I left for three weeks. Now I’ll have to re-buy those items when I get back because clearly I want to make this again.

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