Before we flip the calendar to 2015, I wanted to pause for a moment and reflect upon this year. I've seen some amazing things happen and tasted some great things, too. Many of my food moments are local—and that's because I'm so immersed in our local food scene, where we have happily not reached the tipping point here with good food and drink (the number of breweries and distilleries is climbing on a seemingly daily basis). There are lots of runners up to this list: the lovely meal I recently had at Heirloom; the dozens of warm and curious people I met at the farmers' market; the pie shake, oh! the pie shake, at 3rd and Ferry Fish Market; all the collaborative work I did with photographer Adam Atkinson this year; the mead I drank at Colony; the stories I wrote for seriously national audiences at the Kitchn and Serious Eats; sampling peaches right off the trees at Scholl Orchards. I could go on and on, but I won't. These, here, are the ones that stand out. 1. The very first thing that comes to mind are the flash-fried black-eyed peas at the Bayou, the Southern comfort food spot that opened in March in Bethlehem. Salty and savory, it's snacky, shareable bar food, redefined.
2. Discovering the lovely teas of Kristin Perry at The Kitchen Potager in Ottsville. The Snow Drop, with its little pearls of jasmine, is still my favorite. Perry works out of Linden Hill Gardens and also runs garden parties with pizza and is one of my favorite food friends from this year. Linden Hill is also the site of the laid back, convivial Ottsville Farmers' Market.
3. Attending IACP in March. I met many great people and received important feedback about some of my ideas, including receptive editors and kindred spirits.
4. Everything I bought at Talula's Table in Kennett Square. Whether it was the delicious spreads (figs!!) or the scones—I know I bought more than that but honestly can't remember—that place is powered by love and pure deliciousness.
5. Baconfest. The porcine juggernaut came, and so did about 50,000 people. I spent most of Saturday of this two-day extravaganza surrounded by people I admire, doing incredible things with food, totally on the fly.
6. Purchasing locally grown ginger root from Blooming Glen Farm (now certified organic, woo hoo for them!) at the Easton Farmers' Market.
7. My love of the Easton Farmers' Market continues to feed me literally and creatively. First, there's the feature I wrote forEdible Phillysummer issue; second, the tours and talks I did on Wednesday nights at the market to familiarize people with its offerings, and third, the blog posts that corresponded to those tours. We've been talking about doing it again for 2015, but probably will mix it up a little bit.
8. All the oysters I ate this year. I'm not necessarily one who goes ga-ga for the bivalves, but the fresh ones from the coast of Maine I tried at Youell's Oyster House were a revelation, and so were the oyster and cider pairings (some complex and refreshing ones from Frecon Farms) I had at Maxim's 22 one evening. Nearly every restaurant worth its salt in the Valley is offering a staggering array of oysters these days. People can't get enough of 'em.
9. The Beets Romanga cocktail at Molinari's. All of the food at this family-run authentic Italian restaurant is made from scratch and inventive, thanks to the very able Chef Michael Joyce and his crew. Lee Minnucci is no exception; he does some intriguing things with the bar program. Imagine beet-infused gin, balsamic, lemon, honey sage syrup and secco lambrusco. It's bloody red, and bloody good. There's also a Funghi Manhattan, with porcini-infused rye, that I've yet to try.
10. The fattoush at Daddy's Place. My travels took me to Daddy's Place for a story, the casual Mediterranean blink-you-miss it joint on Northampton Street in Easton. My appetite has taken me back numerous times. When I need to reset to what I'm eating, I pick up one of these fresh, crunchy, heavy-on-the-sumac salads. The small is ample enough to eat for lunch.
As for 2015? Well, I'm in the planning stages of rebooting this website and branding it. And I hope to write at least one book proposal this year, if no two, and find an agent willing to go to bat for me. January looks to be quiet, so perhaps it's the right time to get rolling.