Best of 2008

As I get things ready for the New Year’s Eve party we’re throwing tonight — a very casual affair, mind you, it’s the only kind we like (or know how) to host — I’d like to take a moment to say goodbye to 2008, and remember the good things it has brought.

Besides the release of the French version of my cookbook and the US publication of my new Paris book, Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris; besides a memorable trip to Western Australia and another to Croatia; besides the birth of the most lovable of dimple-cheeked nephews, the purchase of a spiffy bike, and the demise of my oven, I give you, in no particular order, a few of the things that have marked my year:

Favorite food-related book: Della T. Lutes’ The Country Kitchen, a fantastic gift from Adam, who found a vintage copy of it at Bonnie Slotnick’s store in NYC.
Contenders: Diana Abu-Jaber’s memoir The Language of Baklava and Monique Truong’s novel The Book of salt.

Favorite new cake recipe: the flourless poppy seed cake.

Favorite new chocolate: El Ceibo‘s 71% chocolate, produced by a Bolivian coop.
Contenders: Claudio Corallo‘s chocolate with raisins and cocoa pulp in bitter liquor, Poppy‘s “pure bliss” raw chocolate hearts, and Taza‘s 80% bar of stone ground chocolate.

Favorite new cookbook: David Tanis’ A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes (more about this one soon).
Contenders (in French): Sonia Ezgulian’s Petits ricochets de cuisine and Kaori Endo’s Une japonaise à Paris.

Favorite new C&Z feature: the Edible Idioms series.
Contender: micro-blogging via twitter.

Greenest new habits: using reusable shopping bags without fail and trying my best to consume sustainable seafood only (so far, this has mostly meant consuming a lot less seafood, period).

Favorite new dip recipe: the roasted eggplant and goat’s milk yogurt dip.

Most inspiring exchange: an email conversation with David E. Price, which led to The Blind Cook: a Q&A

Favorite life-changing tip: scraping the skin of ginger with the edge of an upturned teaspoon.

Favorite cut of meat: the pork tenderloin.

Favorite non food-related reads: Rory Stewart’s The Places in Between and Dave Eggers’ What is the what.

Favorite new toys: the Danish dough whisk, the Japanese sesame grinder, and the BeaterBlade+ attachment for my mixer.

Favorite new salad recipe: this warm squash and bean salad, which has appeared on our menu in countless incarnations.

Favorite back-to-school experience: a two-day conference on molecular gastronomy, which inspired these astoundingly good roasted flour cookies.

Favorite old habit revived: making my own yogurt (this time, I’m doing it to reduce my non-recyclable waste; milk bottles can be recycled here, but yogurt tubs can’t).

Favorite new hobby to consume time I don’t have: making amigurumi.

Favorite wow-effect recipes: homemade marshmallows and the raspberry dacquoise entremets I brought to our Christmas lunch and am making again for tonight.

Favorite new restaurant: Le Cul de Poule (see here, here, here and here).
Contenders: Les Côtelettes and Le Café Pleyel (see here, here and here).

Favorite new ice cream recipe: chocolate frozen yogurt.
Contender: pistachio gelato.

Care to share your own best of 2008 list? The comment section is all yours!

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