Best of 2012

Happy New Year! Here’s to 2013 and the glorious meals, peals of laughter, new friends, and unforgettable adventures I hope it has in store for you.

Before we remove the protective film from this brand new year, I’d like to take a moment to look back on some of the best things 2012 brought. The two biggest, happiest events for me have been (1) the birth of my baby boy in the spring — Milan is now seven and a half months and he’s a ray of sunshine — and (2) wrapping up the manuscript for my upcoming vegetable cookbook, which will come out mid-2013 under the title The French Market Cookbook.

Here on Chocolate & Zucchini, after a little post-baby break, I was delighted to come back with two new series of Q&A posts: Draw Me A Fridge (in collaboration with my friend Alexia Colson-Duparchy) offers a sneak peek into our guests’ fridge habits, while Parents Who Cook asks parents about their kitchen life after they had children. I also picked up the Edible Idioms series where I’d left it, except now they’re illustrated by Mélina Baumert‘s wonderful watercolors.

Aside from these, here are some of the highlights of my year — and if you care to share your own, I’d love to hear about them!

Favorite new food source: La Ruche qui dit oui !, a service that allows individuals to place group orders with local producers.

Most frequently made pasta dish: curried butternut squash pasta, which I’ve cooked with various kinds of winter squash and various shapes of pasta.

Most memorable food-related read: Tamar Adler’s Everlasting Meal.

Favorite non-food related read: Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. Contenders: Aria Beth Sloss’s soon-to-be-released Autobiography of Us and M. L. Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans.

Favorite new appetizer quickie: beet hummus.

Favorite vegetable to play with: kale, which has just recently become more readily available in Paris.

Favorite new salad and soup topping: savory granola.

Favorite new store: Sipeasy, a great little store in my neighborhood that’s devoted to cocktails and everything you need to mix them at home, including rare and hard-to-find liquors.

Favorite new utensil: the stovetop smoker I received in preparation for an article I’m writing, which I’ve played with to exciting results.

Favorite new podcasts: The Truth, The Longest Shortest Time, Slate’s Double X Gabfest, and Les Femmes, toute une histoire.

Favorite chocolate discovery: Domantas Užpalis’ Lithuanian chocolate factory and Colins Kawai’s mochi truffles.

New favorite hangout: Le Poussette Café, a joyous haven for new parents, where I went once or twice a week after Milan was born.

Favorite new bakery: La Boulangerie du Vide-Gousset, formerly Au Panetier, which the new owner of the next-door restaurant Le Vide-Gousset has taken over. (10 rue des Petits Pères, 75002 Paris, +33 (0)1 42 60 02 78.) Beyond the gorgeously preserved historic décor, I love that it focuses on just a handful of products, including an excellent sourdough-leavened rustic bread, called Pain des Petits Pères.

What about you, any faves to tell us about?

{And if you’d like to hop aboard the C&Z time machine, it will take you back to see the:
~ Best of 2011
~ Best of 2010
~ Best of 2009
~ Best of 2008
~ Best of 2007
~ Best of 2006
~ Best of 2005.}

  • One of the things we did in 2012 was to visit the weekly market in Gérardmer, thanks to your recommendation! I forget what we bought – just fruit, I think – but we had a fun morning.

    I suppose Milan is now old enough for little tastes of this and that – is he enjoying food? My daughter’s comment, during her son’s second year, amused me: she said that all the local parents who had carefully done baby-led weaning during the first year, no purées, no baby-food, were now frantically making soup to ensure their fussy toddlers got some vegetables down them!!!

    • That’s lovely to hear, Annabel!

      As for Milan, he is tremendously interested in food — he loves to sit in our lap at the table, and he grabs at everything he can possibly reach. We give him pieces of things to gnaw at and suck on, he has a blast and it’s fun to watch!

  • Sylvia

    I’m confused by your comment Annabel. My toddler prefers carbs but will eat vegetables in omelettes, fritters and fried rice. You can say it’s hidden veg, but I think it’s just natural they don’t like plain cooked ones. (She doesn’t drink soup either). I think baby-led weaned children tend to have ‘mush’ later only because their wrists aren’t capable of using a spoon properly until around 18mo. Properly means scooping, then aim for the mouth without tipping over. This is different from dipping yoghurt with a spoon.

  • hannah

    2012 was a year of adventure, Italy, skiing and eating, then London, in the winter, and Paris and the UK in the fall.

    Real highlight was residential cookery school at Le Manoir aux Quart’Saison with Raymond Blanc. Food divine, and school was inspiring. Then onto London and dinner at Gauthier Soho. Absolutely divine!

  • There are hundreds of thousands of food blogs; some are mere ‘flash in the pan’. Although you don’t blog as often as you did during the early years of C&Z, your blog continues to be among the very few that deserve to be called a food blog. Hope you continue to write through the new year and beyond.

    P.S. Your boy looks so handsome and happy.

  • simon rowan

    Happy New Year to C&Z and all your subscribers.
    I accidently came across your site looking for a slow dough recipe for baguettes. I made some chocolate ones without yeast for friends over new year, and still managed to get a couple of squeals! My nephew has just launched his Noah bakehouse in the Isle of Man producing ‘real bread’. I prefer to call it slow dough to sourdough. I think people confuse sourdough with rye, with which it is more commonly associated. I too have started supplying my friend and local farmer with ‘artisan breads to sell in his shop.’ he gets a bit nervous because I like to change the recipe every week. I only use organic stoneground unbleached and wholemeal flours.
    Tarragon is my current favourite addition to the mix.
    Thanks for your wonderfully inspirational site
    regards and best wishes Simon

  • Jane Penwell

    Hello and Happy New Year
    Just wanted to add to the feeding baby thread that my daughter-in-law has discovered that parents can add veggies to smoothies without the babies catching on or objecting. For example, steam some broccoli until it is tender and put it into a strawberry/banana smoothie–can’t taste it at all and the child will never know it is there. Squash in tomato sauce for spaghetti, etc is all good but unfortunately the stronger tasting veggies or the ones that will not ocmpletely disappear such as corn just don’t work. But getting broccoli down some 2 year olds is such a great feat that it is enough to make the mom feel much better about the child’s nutrition.

  • jonquil

    Such bright eyes has Milan :) As for 2012, I banished it a week early from this household. It stank.

  • Madonna

    I’m really looking forward to your new book (I assume there will be an English version available in the US?). A mid-2013 release date should coincide perfectly with my garden being in full bloom. If the weather cooperates, I should have lots of fresh vegetables to use in your recipes.

    • Thanks! The book will be initially published in English for the North American market — we’ll see a bit later about the UK and other countries/languages.

      • Madonna

        Thanks, Clotilde. I should have read your original post before commenting. Then I would have known that it would be available here first. The book will definitely be an addition to my growing collection.

        I thought this site might interest you. The gardensare beautiful and the potager has inspired me to try some interesting French heirlooms in my own garden.

        • How interesting — thank you for the link!

  • cant believe I have only just found this site, its fantastic. Crammed full of yummy recopies.

  • tom

    Congratulations on the birth of your baby boy. I hope this year brings you lots happy times also. good luck with the book also.

  • Kristin

    Thank you for sharing that beautiful photo of your son. His expression is perfect for welcoming the new year: full of optimism and delight.

    Though I began 2013 with a misstep (the flu), I love the clean slate feeling and sense of virtuousness in the air. It’s one of my favorite times of year.

    My favorite food experiences of 2012:

    Making the 100% Spelt Walnut bread from the blog ‘The Fresh Loaf.’ Simple and delicious.

    Lefse! Who knew?! Delicious wrapped around some softly scrambled egg with chives and creamy cheese.

    Foraging for fresh figs by bicycle all around my north Portland neighborhood one glorious Sunday afternoon. I brought home 4 pounds!

    Sautéed corn with jalapeno from Molly Wizenberg.

    Frozen passionfruit puree (seedless and sugarless). I found it in a restaurant supply store in Honolulu, but it’s put out by a French company whose name escapes me. I devoured an entire kilo almost by myself in 3 days.

    I’ll stop there.

    Thanks again for giving us such a wonderful internet destination and Happy New Year!

    • What wonderful experiences, Kristin, thanks for sharing!

      Is this the recipe you’re referring to?

      And thanks for introducing me to lefse, I’d never heard of it before. Do you have a favorite recipe to share?

      Best wishes for 2013!

    • I’m very happy to hear that you liked my 100% Spelt Walnut Bread.
      Happy New Year, Kristin and Clotilde (nice blog, by the way) and, of course, Happy Baking

  • Happy New Year everyone!!

  • How lovely to see Milan finally – what bright eyes!

    As for food highlights, here are a few of mine:

    Most frequently made pasta dish: your tomato-sardine pasta, which was a real lifesaver for the almost three months I was without most of my kitchen stuff at the beginning of last year

    Favourite new kitchen toy: it might not sound like much, but a stainless steel frying pan (no more scrambled eggs adhering like cement to cast iron!)

    Favourite new cafe: Notes, which has some of the best coffee in London and is conveniently close to work

    Favourite pastry: I finally made it to Arnaud Larher (on your recommendation) and got his kouign-amann. Best I’ve ever eaten.

    Most memorable meal: a picnic dinner of seeded German rye, cheese, radishes and blackberries eaten on a bench overlooking Heidelberg Castle

    On the non-edible side, there were the small matters of moving back to London, starting my dream job, and finally being in the same city as my boyfriend again after three years. :)

    Best wishes for 2013 and I await the new cookbook with baited breath!

    • Very appetizing round-up, Rachel, and I’m so happy for you about the move, the job, and the boyfriend. :)

  • Suzanne

    I was kind of anti-Pinterest this year, but soon found it was a great way to find new recipes as well as new food blogs. I’m glad to have found yours! I also got new jobs this year, one of which includes promoting The Swan Light which can help you look better online when interacting with others. Now that’s something to toast to! Here’s to a prosperous 2013!

  • kristin

    Hi! Yes, that is exactly the bread recipe I used. It was my first attempt with a yeast bread made entirely with spelt flour and it was a resounding success…many of the comments on The Fresh Loaf blog attest to similar success from the others who have tried it.

    I do not have a lefse recipe…yet. My husband and I purchased a package of the Mrs Olson’s brand at Ikea just before Christmas and were amazed at how something so simple could be so delicious. In addition to the eggs and chives, we wrapped it around a salad of wine and dill poached salmon and shrimp. It was extraordinary. I have some floury potatoes in my pantry ready for lefse baking experiments. I’ll let you know what happens. :) Maybe someone here has some suggestions…? My googling has resulted in lots of recipes…all quite similar.


  • georgia

    That baby is gorgeous! And dimples already! Happy New Year to you and your beautiful family.

  • Christie

    Clotilde, I am so thrilled about your new cookbook! I can’t wait. Many years ago (even before the French Women Don’t Get Fat book), I adopted a French-ish lifestyle and immediately shed all of my unwanted weight. My husband and I have slowly over the years shifted to a meat-less diet, eating meat only once or twice a week. As a consequence, I find myself eating “french” food far less frequently than I would like. I’m excited to see what your cookbook offers.

    Also, Milan is beautiful! I am the mother to an almost two-year old, so I am going through this process one year ahead of you. So far I can say that it just keeps getting better and better. At each stage, I told my husband that I wanted to freeze time because it was the *best* stage. I wish you the best on this parental journey!

    • Thanks so much, Christie, that was exactly the inspiration for the book. I hope you like it!

      And thanks for the compliments, too. I completely understand what you’re saying. I don’t want to freeze anything because I’m ever excited for what he’s going to do/learn next, but each stage (once you’re past the very early months, which were a lot harder than I expected) is such a joy to witness.

Get the newsletter

Receive FREE email updates with all the latest recipes, plus exclusive inspiration and Paris tips. You can also choose to be notified when a new post is published.

View the latest edition of the newsletter.