It seems like time is on turbo mode...but yes, it’s true, another year has come and gone. 2011 was full of change. It brought us back to the East coast, to a new city. DC welcomed us with a blistering cold winter...and then made up for it with cherry blossoms and cake. Our adventures continued abroad on a culinary dream trip through Italy, Greece, and France (still sifting through more pictures and stories than I know what to do with). And then finally, we arrived home. Back to this beautiful city by the bay. There was a lot of action in 2011. I feel like I’m still digesting it all. End of years and new years tend to inspire reflection, goal setting...and all that jazz. I have a feeling about 2012. It’s gonna be a big one. But let’s just take it one bite at a time. Like always, I hope to do more yoga, drink more water, tame my inbox... I predict there will be less sleep in 2012, but I’m ok with that. What’s in your crystal ball? What kind of beautiful things will you manifest this new year? As you ponder, let’s take a trip down memory lane. Presenting 2011’s tastiest moments:
On that sweet note, I wish you all a joyful new year and send you warmest thanks from the bottom of my heart for continuing with me on this delicious journey. *kisses*
1. The French Laundry A meal of a lifetime. Five hours, seventeen courses, ten wines, shared with three special people. Pure extravagance, pleasure, and happiness. 2. Bay Area Fried Chicken Guide Crispy skin, juicy meat, finger-lickin’ goodness...come to momma. We went on a bit of a bender last year and found that there’s a fried chicken solution to every situation. 3. Salted Caramel Sauce Good on everything (and by itself). And, it’s way easier than you’d ever think. This is a staple to have in your arsenal of culinary awesomeness. 4. Cochon Butcher: Divine Swine One of my favorite spots in New Orleans, Butcher is a pork-lover’s paradise. Lots of great items on the menu, but the one that has forever lodged itself into my memory is the tangy, juicy, Carolina-Style BBQ Pork Sandwich with a heap of no-mayo Cole Slaw on top and a whole lot of Potato Salad lovin’ on the side. 5. Pizzeria Mediterranea I was skeptical when Hua promised this would be the best pizza I’ve ever had. Indeed, the Quatro Formaggi at Pizzeria Mediterranea blew. my. mind. Crustiness, chewiness, and a glorious combination of mozzarella, gorgonzola, scamorza, romano, and pecorino (Yeah, technically, this is actually a Five Cheese pizza. Impressed? I thought so.). So good, we made up reasons to keep going back to Perugia just to get another taste of this pie. On more than one occasion, we may or may not have made a detour here on the way to dinner in order to get a Quatro Formaggi "appetizer." 6. Komi You know a place has to be good when the President and First Lady choose it for their date night. The food was thoughtful, smart, and utterly delicious. The Katsikaki – a massive, slow-rosted, bone-in leg of baby goat – was a revelation. 7. Pasta Puttanesca Full of salt, brine, and sass, this is my go-to quickie meal. I never tire of it. And with a name that roughly translates into "pasta in the style of a whore”...well, you just can’t beat that. 8. Harry & David: the People Behind the Pears A trip out to the Rogue Valley in Oregon introduced me to Harry & David’s famous Royal Riviera Pears, and the phenomenal people behind them. Matt Borman, Harry & David’s head horticulturist, said it best, "It’s like growing candy.” 9. Skillet-Baked Tuscan Chicken This no-fuss skillet chicken is so simple and crazy good. The chicken ends up braising in its own juices with onions, tomatoes, garlic, and herbs melting together into one comforting meal. A cup of sherry at the end is the secret sauce. Make this tonight. 10. New Orleans Wine & Food Experience Royal Street Stroll The food of New Orleans is big and bold, and New Orleanians sure know how to eat it up with gusto. Barbecue Shrimp, Charbroiled Oysters, Crawfish Ã‰touffée and Cheese Grits. Yes, ma’am. We had fun. 11. Food & Wine All-Star Weekend in Vegas A star-studded affair teeming with world-class chefs and their delectable creations. Black Truffle Cheesy Poufs were in attendance. 12. Chocolate Crack Cookies The ultimate death-by-chocolate cookie. The delicate, crackly surface and fudgy decadence is irresistible. I discovered that this is a great recipe to play with as far as mix-ins go. I made a version with mint chips for the holidays and will definitely be filing that one away. I imagine peanut butter chips would be excellent. I’m also willing to bet that a rocky road cookie based on this would be a winning combination.