Not quite sure where I went for the latter half of 2009. I know there was a lot of work and some travel and A Lot of four year old boy and thirteen year old girl and leaves that had to be raked and dogs that wanted walking. There was the pleasure of a warm fall and the sudden shock of winter and some evenings when I read books and some when there was nothing but email until I hauled my weary self up to bed. There was even, truly, a lot of cooking, even if there was precious little blogging about cooking.
Some of you may have noticed me hemming and hawing a bit over in the right-hand column of this blog; Shana and I both started twitter feeds to share some of our gustatory adventures without the overhead of writing full posts. You can follow me @mariaeats and Shana @shanaeats for quick bites, so to speak. I’m a beginning twitter-er, still learning my way around the short form, but really, I’m a long form narrative sort of girl, so I’m looking forward to finding my way back into this space and our communal conversation about food and all that goes with it.
So, with far too much to say, let me use the most favored technique of the last week of the decade and present my top ten food moments of (the second half of) 2009, aka the things I would have written about if the cat hadn’t run off with my blogger tongue:
- Raspberry buttermilk cake. Simple as, well, pie, and all about clean, fresh flavor. Equally good for breakfast and dessert.
- Grilled halibut with gremolata butter; best when eating fresh-caught halibut outside a beat-up trailer and looking at this view:
- “Restaurant style pork chops” with goat cheese and rosemary polenta. Let me tell you, one of those meals where we kept asking ourselves whether we had actually cooked it.
- Braised rabbit. Really, not at all good. But I cooked bunny and was inspired to try again some time!
- Smoked trout. Two pounds of local trout smoked on the Big Green Egg, with a little guidance from The Smoked Seafood Cookbook by local smokin’ hero, T.R. Durham. We ate it for weeks and were sad when it was gone.
- Nick’s discovery of cornichons. The boy is, I tell you, obsessed. A four year old who will trade in chocolate for pickles. We can’t keep them in the house and when they’re not here he asks wistfully after the “little bent pickles.”
- Omelette aux fine herbs. Some day in late September, I cracked a few Dragonwood eggs delivered the day before, snipped a few herbs from my garden and cooked them up with some very fresh Calder Dairy butter. Suddenly, after thirty years of omelette making, I understood what the French have been going on about all these centuries.
- Thanksgiving dinner with Anne and Shana and an assemblage of men. Not cooked on Thanksgiving at all, but a few days before, and a chance to cook our way without all the pressure of tradition and family palates to please. There were dates stuffed with foie-gras and Seelbachs and celeriac soup with stilton toasts and duck to die for with tart cherry sauce and these little beauties:
- John’s Birthday Dinner/our Christmas Dinner. Crab cakes with citrus aoili, a grilled rack of lamb and lovely risotto, molten chocolate cakes and laughter and family until late in the night.
- The Great Flour Throw Down, in which John produced 7 pizzas from 3 flours and conferred with our panel of judges to determine the best flour for his pizza making purposes. Verdict: Italian tipo 00. Read all about it
These are the moments that stand out when I’m here curled in my arm chair on a late December night with a little snow in the air, but really the strongest memories come from the pleasurable sameness of my Ann Arbor days, the little surprises of the CSA box, the treat now and then of a Comet Coffee on the way to work, the crisp delight of fresh apple and sharp cheddar cheese on an autumn afternoon, the reliable deliciousness of a Cafe Japon baguette, the fun of watching my son strike up his independent friendships with his favorite farmer’s market vendors. Nothing special and all so special at the same time. It’s been a good year, and not just in food (although I’m certainly not complaining about the food — except maybe that rabbit). I hope it has been so too for all of you that stop by this blog now and then. I look forward to talking and cooking more in 2010.
Happy Holidays to All.