Yup, it's that time of year. Even though I've hung up the professional feedbag, there's just something about the end of the year that shoves me into a reflective mood, compelling me to boil 12 months worth of eating into a bite-size list.
It was a hell of a year. The newspaper folded. Our Baby Girl went off to college. And so did Johnny. He's this close to getting a masters in elementary education after putting his 30-year newspaper career to bed on March 17.
Still, this roller coaster ride of 2009 has had a whole lot of thrills, especially when it comes to meals shared around a table filled with friends and family. Here's to 2010 and all the great bites to come!
Some of my favorite morsels of 2009, pictured from top to bottom:
One of everything please at Couchon, New Orleans.
BLT handroll at Do, Memphis.
Walla Walla Sweet Onion taco, Walla Walla.
Claire's high school graduation party on the water at Lincoln Park: BBQ pork sammies, Nana's beans and cake from the same bakery where we got our wedding cake, Borracchini's.
Deep-fried dill pickles at Luizza's On the Tracks, New Orleans.
Go meet the new pastry chef at Barking Frog, Woodinville.
Post-hike bratwurst with my brother Chris at Munchen Haus, Leavenworth.
Duck egg ravioli made by Tom Douglas at the Tom Douglas Summer Boot Camp, Seattle.
Charcuterie and local cheese plate at The Pike, Seattle.
Hitting the snack bar at The Seaview Theater, Orcas Island.
Getting piggy with my barbecue guru at Central, Memphis.
I'm not sure when it happened, but my daughter has become oyster lover. Baby Girl used to be so dang picky, so parents of persnickety kids should take heart.
When we were working out our holiday menus, she suggested oysters on Christmas Eve. Which sent me into a shellfish fever. What would it be? On the half shell? Fried? Wrapped in bacon? Rockefellered? How about yes to all of the above. I'll make oysters a dozen different ways, I foolishly declared.
Now I'm in a pickle. I can only come up with 10 recipes. What am I missing?
On the half shell A Bloody Mary shooter Dredged in a curry powder and flour and fried Po'Boy Angels on Horseback Oysters Casino Oysters Rockefeller Oyster Stew Oysters Bienville BBQ-ed Oysters
Maybe I should quit fixating on coming up with a dozen. Ten's a good number. Unless somebody's got a savory suggestion.
Heading to Walla Walla this weekend for Holiday Barrel Tasting, snow forecasts be damned.
I've always loved trying wine in its earliest stages. It's a sneak preview of the wonderful things to come. But this fall, I'm particularly pumped because I've been following one wine at Northstar that I think has the potential to be a true superstar.
I've been chronicling the story of the Big Dipper since last summer, when winemaker David "Merf" Merfeld put nearly 300 miles on his pickup showing me some of his favorite vineyards. That journey reminded me how vast and how beautiful this state's wine country is. I know it's often compared with France, given our shared latitude. And many of the sites reminded me of vineyards I saw in Bordeaux, which is cool because Merf's definitely got an Old World state-of-mind about crafting the Big Dipper. He wants to make a wine that will age. A noble aspiration in our instant gratification wine-drinking world.
We won't get a sneak peek at Big Dipper this weekend. I'm bummed, but it's understandable. There's a limited amount of wine from various vineyards tagged for Big Dipper and Merf needs every drop for blending purposes. But super tasters will get to sample sips from other wines produced this year, which should give a good indication the direction they're headed. Can't wait! Will I see you there?
Along with barrel tasting, there's going to be live music Saturday and Sunday, tasting of older wines and a selection of cheese to sample. Find me there on Saturday afternoon and whisper "Big Dipper" in my ear and I'll buy you a drink!