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!

  • kim

    My favourite cookbook this year was yours (the C&Z one)! I have a fair stack (for someone who only cooks about twice a week) but your book is the one I used the most. My favourite recipe is your ratatouille (dead easy and yummy) and my 87 year old aunt keeps requesting your yoghurt cake :)

    So thank you for the inspiration and have fun tonight!

  • A Platter of Figs is not only the best cookbook of the year, it is also the most beautiful! My second favorite was The Spice Merchant’s Daughter. My third favorite was Angela Hartnett’s Cucina.

    Thanks for this list. I’m trying the flourless poppyseed cake this weekend.

    Have a great party and a Happy New Year.

  • 2008 was the year I really started using reusable bags, too. I can;t believe how many plastic bags I must have gone through…

    A Platter of Figs was on my wish list but I didn’t get it so I can’t wait to hear what you think.

  • Great list! I’m grateful for so many things but especially for the new brother- and sister-in-law that were added to our family this year! Oh – and that I’m finally learning how to cook!

    Happy New Year!

  • One of my favourite reads this year – your cookbook. I have to get my hands on that dough whisk.
    Resolution for next year: learn how to make macarons. Got any tips?

  • Lisa

    re: recycling–

    If you buy them individually, I love those delightful little yogurts that come in the glass jars? I brought a bunch home with me as they make cute little spice holders. Not practical if you need a lot of yogurt, but definitely can be repurposed.

  • Sarah

    I always see Taza chocolate bars for sale around here (they make their chocolate in the town I live in), but I had no idea that they were available outside of the Boston area! I guess now I will have to try some.
    Also, I stumbled upon your blog a few months ago and have already gotten some fantastic recipes that I look forward to making often. Thank you and happy new year!

  • The Edible Idioms have been awesome, Clotilde! One of my biggest things for 2008 was finally finding the courage to get involved in the food-blogging community – and finally posting comments on blogs I’ve been reading for a while!

    Have a wonderful New Year, and good luck with the dinner tonight!

  • Alice

    Happy New Year to you,too,Clotilde!
    Favourite blog of 2008:
    Chocolate and Zucchini!
    I hope your party goes well!

  • Not so much favourites, but things that made me happy in my kitchen this year.

    #1. I bought an LG Fridge that looks like a Liebherr but literally cost a quarter of the price.

    #2. My 14-year-old son baked 8 cakes over the summer holidays.

    #3. My Labrador Retriever is my biggest fan in the kitchen. She eats everything I drop.

    # 4. For Christmas I received a Silpat and a Tagine!! My husband is so smart.

    Happy New Year everyone!

  • Joan

    Have noticed it’s now just gone 2am in Paris…so Clotilde, your New Year’s Eve is now THE day..

    Your list made a delightful read..

    2009 of the warmest wishes to you for your year of 2009 ahead..

  • My favorite thing I have said this year, “I’m giving you two weeks notice. My fiance gave me the year off for my 40th birthday. I’m going to culinary school. See ya.”

    Funny… I never get tired of that!

    Other new favorites: Our rescued pooch, Elinore, my new Mercer knives, and my peace of mind.

  • Best of 2008 for me. Hmm. Here are 10:
    1. Calling and visiting my 85-year-old friend named Toots. She’s not doing too well, but she still has a talent for laughing with what life hands her.
    2. Bringing my 92-year-old great Aunt Jeanne to a family dinner at my mom’s. Her daughter was visiting from out of state and she came too. We had a great time talking about the good ol’ days.
    3. Learning to make pistachio gelato (your recipe) and seeing my friends eyes go wide when they tasted it and loved it.
    4. Having my grown children home from college for the holidays.
    5. Singing around the piano on Christmas Eve with parents, siblings, children, and nieces and nephews.
    6. Hiking the trail near our house until the snow got too deep.
    7. Dejunking my house down to necessities and a few wants.
    8. Going to France (Normandie and the Dordogne) and Italy this past year with our children before they scatter–a vacation we’d planned for 23 years.
    9. Feeling the thrill of someone else’s success (my sister is self-publishing a book )
    10. Having a stranger tell me that my blog has helped them on more than one occasion.

  • Oh, I forgot two more!
    1. Playing a fun game in Normandie around a picnic table in someone’s backyard (“Savez vous passer la traderidera”) and laughing our heads off every time someone would get “out”.
    2. Being asked to sing opera arias for these friends in Normandie at their backyard picnic. The most memorable and heartwarming part, however, was having everyone sing with me. I brought the words for “La Vie en Rose”, and “Une Chanson Douce” (Henri Salvador). We sang at the top of our lungs!!!

  • Rachel

    Bonne annee! I hope your party was all you hoped it would be.

    Here are a few of my favourites from 2008:
    Chocolate: Alfons Dallmeyr elderflower chocolate
    Food-related book: Edible Adventures; contender: Herve This, Revelations gastronomiques
    Cookbook purchase: The Rose Bakery Cookbook (at last!); contender: Elizabeth Luard, The Food of Spain and Portugal
    Proudest culinary achievement: making a 4-tier wedding cake in a kitchen that was in no way adequate to the task; contender: narrowly avoiding a nervous breakdown brought on by said cake ;)
    New ingredient: Portuguese salt cream
    New toy: a set of really good springform cake tins
    New C&Z feature: definitely the Edible Idioms
    Culinary fear conquered: making custard

    Here’s to another great year of C&Z!

  • While your blog makes me sad that I’m not in Paris, it does serve as inspiration to go back as soon as possible. Many thanks for your excellent posts and insights into Parisian food, cooking and restaurants. Best to you in 2009!

  • David

    What a joy to see Truong’s brilliant evocation of “modernist” Paris listed in your faves dear Clotilde! I adore that book and the Paris it represents–the freedom and joy of that era not existing anywhere on earth at that time. Best to you and Maxence and may we one day meet.

  • Thank you for always making my day sweeter–here’s to an even sweeter and more delicious 2009!

  • Meg

    I am so happy you posted about Taza. They are blocks from my house and a really great company – I did not realize (along with Sarah) that one could get their products outside of the Boston, MA area. Chocolate lovers : buy a bar! I recommend (highly) their cinnamon Mexican chocolate disks which make wonderful hot chocolate.

  • My favorite food-related book this year was Poet of The Appetites by Joan Reardon–excellent biography on MFK Fisher. Really had a hard time putting it down.

    Best ingredient discovery: burnet. really great leafy herb that i put in salads, tastes sort of like cucumber and walnuts. it grows like wildfire out here in oregon. feta + burnet= yum.

    Favorite new Restaurant: Toro Bravo, here in Portland. Tapas–everything is incredible. the things they can do with cauliflower!!

    Best culinary prize from my travels: 4 cuisses de canard, all nicely tinned and stowed away in my suitcase. I was so worried they wouldn’t make it back through customs! Also a really great bottle of riesling that someone in southern germany gifted us from their vineyard.

  • Sarah

    Favorite food-related book: Understanding Nutrition by: Whitney Rolfes
    Favorite new cake recipe: Applesauce ginger cake
    Favorite new chocolate: the pound plus bar, dark with almonds from Trader Joe’s.
    Favorite new cookbook: Pork and Sons by: Stephane Reynaud especially the chapter “A Piggy Party”.
    Greenest new habits: Using The Better World Shopping Guide by: Ellis Jones
    Favorite new dip recipe: Gina’s white bean and tuna dip
    Most inspiring exchange: My husband helping me edit my application essays for graduate school.
    Favorite life-changing tip: Roasting butternut squash whole.
    Favorite cut of meat: Boston Butt pork roast. It’s a working woman’s slow cooker dream come true.
    Favorite non food-related reads: I Don’t: A Contrarian View of Marriage by: Susan Squire. Who knew that Martin Luther was such an advocate for happy marriage!
    Favorite new toys: My Cuisinart immersion blender and all of the fun attachments. I could not live without it.
    Favorite new salad recipe: Chilled bok choy with a sesame ginger vinaigrette
    Favorite back-to-school experience: reading Understanding Nutrition.
    Favorite old habit revived: Shopping at the 17th Street Market in Tucson.
    Favorite new hobby: making reusable shopping bags for my friends out of fun fabrics.
    Favorite wow-effect recipes: Learning to make a good bouillabaisse and serving Caprese sandwiches on homemade focaccia bread.
    Favorite new restaurant: Tavolino Ristorante in Tucson.
    Favorite new ice cream recipe: Lemon ice water with candied peel.

  • Hi,

    This my first time commenting on your famous website, but of course I already own your book (bought from and heard of you from OLIVE BBC Food Magazine. You are also one of my inspirations for starting my food blog. OK ! I digress, what were my favourites;

    Favourite New Book: Made in Italy by Giorgio Locatelli
    Favourite Chocolate: Tartufo, Dolce Di Alba (real truffle chocolate)
    Favourite New Recipe: Pistachio Macaroons Contender: Mayonnaise
    Favourite Restaurant: I’m going to nominate a cafe as I prefer them, Flat White, Soho (London)
    Favourite Coffee: Indian Malabar Moonsoned from HR Higgins, London
    Favourite Cooking experience: Making cup cakes with 4 kids and icing them (contender: making a barbie cake for my daughter’s 8th birthday)
    Favourite Dish: Making Thai Curry
    Favourite new hobby: Food Photography (see my account on flickr, search lameen)
    Favourite C&Z experience: making your parmesan crumble from your cookbook and the kids loved it
    Favourite Cake: Cheesecake (my recipe)

  • Stephanie

    Happy New Year Clotilde!

    I cannot wait to hear what you have to say about Platter of Figs. It is a beautiful book and I love his attitudes about food and eating, but so far none of the recipes have moved me ‘from couch to kitchen’. I pick it up often but it does not move me the way your books do :)

    Your blog and your Edible Adventures have been invaluable tools for my first year in Paris. Thank you!!

  • Eric Wright

    Good to know. It would be great to see more updates from you though. Not all of the links seem to work. Eric

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