I don’t know about you, but for me 2011 just flew right by. I felt like I’d barely gotten through stuffing my gullet with all the wonderful berries, stone fruit, and gorgeous green vegetables of summer when it was time to figure out what to make for Thanksgiving and come up with recipes for using sweet potatoes and pumpkin. This year was a busy one as I launched a new site for The Experimental Gourmand with its own domain name and posted 148 times, a record. Thirty-seven original recipes were added and 62 posts covered food events, including cook-offs, benefits, markets, and, yes, The Red Velvet Cake Debate (probably my favorite “debate” of the year).
This was also a year in which I introduced Giveaways of artisan food products so that you, the readers, can also get your hands on some of the delicious items that might not have made it into your markets quite yet. In fact, of the top ten most visited posts to the site for 2011, three of them were for giveaways. This has also had the side benefit of letting me highlight the hard work that all of the people who make the food that we enjoy eating do to start their own businesses and to keep them going through thick and thin, snowstorms and sunshine. I appreciate what goes into each and every delicious bite so profiling them is just a small way of saying “thanks.”
Recipes continue to be a fundamental part of the website and of my philosophy about exploring the food world around us. I’m still striving to eat seasonally and mostly locally, using products found in local farmers’ markets, while re-interpreting the dishes I grew up with and adding a new ones based up my travels and culinary studies. Hopefully, you find them useful as well in trying to do more cooking and home for your family, which I hear is still the number one concern of most people who follow food and recipe sites.
Another growing component of this website has been Food Events and Markets. My most fond memories of the year involve meeting the people behind the products at the various food markets like Smorgasburg and New Amsterdam. If you have never visited New Amsterdam Market down by the South Street Seaport, definitely add it to your usual weekend errand rotation or tourist stops when you are in town to sample some local and regional treasures. Among the most delicious things I tasted, and there were many, the Duck Buns by Cathy Erway and the Duck Confit by Richard Pinto from the Duck Cook-off at Jimmy’s No. 43 still stick in my mind as among the tastiest. Another mind-blowing creation I sampled in 2011 was the Sweet Mary Ice Cream by The Bent Spoon, who always seems to make one amazing flavor after another.
The past year has also brought with it some sadder moments, but ones which made me realize how wonderful a community the blogging one is. When Jennifer Perillo lost her beloved husband suddenly this summer, fellow food bloggers rallied around, including me, and created one big, electronic hug for her by posting her husband’s favorite recipe: Peanut Butter Pie. Participating in the Cookies for Kids’ Cancer this month helped me feel as though I was doing something to help my nephew fight the cancer with which he’d been diagnosed this past summer.
On the positive side, I was able to go to some inspiring and engaging lectures and conferences during the past year. From Eat, Write, Retreat to the Fancy Food Show to The Chocolate Show, which I covered for another site for which I write Woman Around Town, I was able to interact with fellow food lovers discovering tastes and treats and making new friends. I had a chance to cover the intersection of food and technology on the insightful and informative website Food+Tech Connect run by Danielle Gould and to explore some of the food apps at Eats + Apps that developers are hoping we’ll consult as we plan our meals.
These are all aspects that are moving our understanding of what we eat and influencing how we cook and consume it, which is also part of what I think makes the culinary world such a fascinating arena right now. For 2012, I’m looking forward to learning more about our food future, celebrate its glorious history, and eat many more amazing items whether made by the dedicated artisans in our community or cobbled together in my own kitchen.
Buon capodanno e buon appetito!