Last week(ish), on December 21st, I was notified by WordPress that it was my 4th Year Anniversary as a blogger.
Normally, I miss out this occasion. Not that I think I ought to be throwing myself parties or buying myself jewelry (or appliances), but the WordPress congratulatory note had a strange effect on me. As I sat in the airport waiting for my flight from Dallas, which was inevitably DELAYED since I was not running across the airport to catch it, I started to reflect on my life—all of the little and big things, the accomplishments and the failures, the blogs of the past, and the “what was I doing at this time last year?”s. I wanted to write about it, but I couldn’t verbalize it properly, so I waited. But now, as we are passing from one year to another, it seems like a good time to reflect. First thing’s first: I find it interesting that I began my blog on the shortest day of the year, or, more accurately, the darkest day of the year. I realized that sometimes the accidental things turn out to be the most poignant. The second thing I realized is that even though I had no trajectory (or, as I coined the other day, “projectory”) of where I wanted my blog to go when I started it, it would have been nice if I could have been this blogger who was “Freshly Pressed” and discovered by the Huffington Post and garnered thousands of followers after only ONE YEAR.
But as I got to thinking about the places my blog has been, or rather, the places I have been since blogging, I can’t be too upset. It’s nice to have an online record of my adventures, and to see how, over the years, I’ve thought I was funny. I’ve even developed traditions, like writing a Top List every year on New Year’s Eve*. *exception: 2011, when I flew to Australia on December 29 and arrived on the 31st and was thrown off by losing a day of my life. But I did blog about New Year’s Eve in the Land Down Under. In 2010, I wrote my Top 10 of 2010. In 2012, I wrote about my Top 12 Foods of 2012. In 2013, I wrote about my Top 13 Moments (in pictures) of 2013. Now, in 2014, I give you my
Top 14 Food Picture Moments of 2014
1. JP Spoonem’s
This restaurant is secretly (well, not so secretly) my favorite place to have breakfast/brunch in all of Rhode Island. They make wicked awesome homemade corned beef hash, and their speciality french toasts are so beautiful I would marry them. AND everything is so reasonably priced, I take my favorite foodie friends here. NOTHING GOES TO WASTE, OKAY?? I also had my first coffee milk here, so it holds a special place in my heart.
2. Block Island’s “Taste of Block Island,” with Bacon Fest.
My very first magazine assignment was to cover The Taste of Block Island, so this event was doubly special for me. I managed to eat my entire year’s worth of bacon while sampling nine restaurants’ best bacon dishes (and re-sampling my favorites until I narrowed it down to two, and then trying those dishes one last time). Contestants included chocolate covered bacon and bacon sushi. The following was one of my favorites because they tasted predominately like cream-filled donuts.
3. Seven Stars Bakery
This is where I go to reward myself after a long morning at the gym or after running the Color Run twice. It’s near my house and I have heart pangs every time I drive by it without stopping for a treat. I live for these croissants. And they make the best hot chocolate with almond milk, which is not the easiest task. (I mean, anyone can make a to-die-for chocolate with whole milk–or, as I learned in Chicago: heavy cream–but it takes real talent to make a great hot chocolate with milk that doesn’t froth properly). The last time we had a launch at the gym and everyone voted to go out for pizza instead of croissants, I almost cried.
4. (A place in France that I can never remember) (I looked it up because Lauren would have been ashamed): L’ardoise Gourmande
THIS PLACE ROCKS. It’s the best restaurant in all of Paris. The food was outstanding, the fixed price menu awesome, and the Parisian servers were even nice to us, to the point of smiling often and giving us free after-dinner drinks. We think it’s because they had a bet going regarding us, that two women of our stature could not finish all of the food we ordered (three courses per person, plus bread and wine). Naturally, we wiped every plate clean without thinking twice about it. This dessert is, by far, the most majestic creation I’ve ever eaten.
5. Chez Michel
Also, when in France…
These were served in lieu (<–I speak French!) of table bread at a restaurant across the street from L’ardoise Gourmande. We took play-by-play photos of us eating the snails to prove that we actually did it, but I will spare you those images.
6. Gelateria Terraglio
Where would a blog about food be without gelato? I could have filled this blog with 14 pictures of just gelato*, but the only person to whom that would have appealed is me, so I will only feature one photo. The following is THE BEST GELATO I’VE EVER HAD. It came from Bassano del Grappa, in Northern Italy. I asked the woman who made the gelato what she would recommend, and she gave me two scoops: Panna semi-freddo and Coffee. The former was magnificent. It was like whipped cream turned into gelato: creamy, light, heavenly. I was so enraptured by my experience than an Italian came up to me and said, “My friend [points to friend] was making fun of me because he said I eat too slow–but you! You eat even slower than me.” I was savoring each bite to the notice of strangers. A scary thought.
*I decided to validate this claim. It turns out I was incorrect. I have 12 photos of gelato, plus five pictures of gelato displays, six photos of ice cream, and five of desserts that are a la mode.
7. Alessandro’s house, Bassano del Grappa, Italy
In my last Italy blog, I wrote about a henna party that I was rushing to get to. This was the meal we had there. Niusha’s cooking made my Top 12 of 2012 list, and her (and her mother’s) cooking makes it yet again. The colors. The flavors. It’s all so good.
8. Chowder Fest
I came home from a gluttonous trip in Europe to more festivals devoted to food in Rhode Island. Imagine this: 24 people offering their best made chowders for us to vote on while we drank free alcohol (open bar!) and mingled with other young professionals. I tried 20 chowders, and thought I might die a bloated and unattractive death–that is, until I saw the dessert table. Shockingly, my appetite returned. Plus, our friend Anne won the best chowder.
The winning ingredient? Scallops.
9. Teriyaki House
My dad visited Providence for the first time, and I made sure to take him through my most mundane activities. He got to see how I walk to work every day! and see where I get the best bubble tea! and see where I walk for two miles in order to arrive at a free beach in Newport! I took him to the Teriyaki House, and even though I often go to there for bubble tea, I’d never seen a Bing Soo before. As soon as I did, I HAD TO HAVE IT. There’s green tea ice cream, sliced almonds, mochi, cheesecake squares, red beans, shaved ice, and warm milk to pour on top. I posted pictures on Facebook and people were both intrigued and disturbed. I assure you it’s delicious.
10. Taste Trekkers Conference 2014
I just wrote about this in my last blog, but Taste Trekkers was where I had the grandest time of my life. After learning about food from all around the world, I got to sample toffees and cheeses and jams and whiskeys, and everything in between. I met cool people, embraced the foodie culture, and felt inspired.
[Note from future Jenny: this was where I met Christopher, who would take me to Greece with Writing Workshops in Greece and irrevocably change my life.]
11. The Elephant Room
One of the benefits of the Taste Trekkers conference was meeting the women who run food tours in Rhode Island. One of them took me through Pawtuxet Village, and there I learned about the Elephant Room. It’s a cute cafe/restaurant that specializes in tea and crepes. Their Tea menu rivals a Belgian beer menu–pages and pages of teas–and they even make tea-infused cocktails. You can choose between sweet and savory crepes. My first time visiting, my friend and I ordered four to share. It’s the coziest place in the coziest village, and once I’m there, I never want to leave.***
***I’m sure they love this about me.
12. Johnson and Wales University
Another benefit of Taste Trekkers was meeting JWU folks who keep me privy to events that are closed to the public. As a culinary institute, students’ finals include presenting their work, whether it be tapas or bread-making or “pastries.” I was invited to the pastries demonstration and I thought of croissants filled with diced apples. What I arrived to was a room full of tables covered in chocolate truffles and mouses and cakes and macaroons. It was where I go in my dreams when calories don’t exist, and neither does diabetes. I am the Queen of Trying Everything. Dessert buffets, potlucks, Thanksgiving dinners–I must have one of everything. So, that was my goal here. Well, I failed by 1000%. I ate the equivalent of three boxes of chocolates and made myself ill, but I conquered less than half of the room. As I told one chef, “I finally came up against dessert, and dessert won.”
13. Kitchen Bar
The best/worst discovery I could have ever made was the Pumpkin Pie Martini. I took my friend from Hawaii here and she loved it so much, she called the bartender to ask for the recipe. I took Irish guys and Hungarian guys who were visiting Rhode Island to Kitchen Bar to get this drink. I took blind dates and non-blind-dates and friend-dates and even-if-you-don’t-want-to-date-me dates to get Pumpkin Pie Martinis, and I will be sad when it’s off the menu come tomorrow. (It’s a “seasonal” cocktail.) RIP till next Fall. You will be missed.
14. Martin’s Capital Cafe
Nothing beats the taste of home. New Mexicans will understand. Everyone else: I’m sorry, but this is where my ability as a writer fails. I’m not sure how to begin to explain to you what you’re missing until you’ve tried a chile smothered burrito from Martin’s. Your nose will run. Your mouth will be on fire. Your eyes will water. And you will say, “Pass the extra red chile, please.” Word to the wise: a glass of milk will help the fire. The pain is worth it. YOU WILL LEARN TO LOVE IT. And that, my friends, is why I bemoan Mexican food in New England. Because THIS is a breakfast burrito:
I’ve rambled on for far too long, but I want to point out that there’s more to this list than wonderful food; it’s the people I’ve been lucky enough to share the food with. It’s for this reason, a thousand times over, why I’m so thankful for 2014: the good, the bad, the savory and the sweet. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to enjoy a meal with me, or even just gone out for a nicely decorated cup of coffee. I may be photographing the food, but I’m recording the memories in my heart.
Cheers to you for a happy, and delicious, 2015 🙂