Best of 2013

Morning granola at In De Wulf

I will remember 2013 as the year Chocolate & Zucchini celebrated its 10th anniversary, and as the year The French Market Cookbook was published (and so generously well received).

It is also the year I worked on a whole new version of the site — I cannot wait to unveil it! — and on a brand new book project, which I will tell you more about very soon (hint hint).

In 2013 I also got to visit not one, but two of my bestest and favoritest vacation destinations, Corsica and San Francisco, and this has felt like winning the lottery, twice.

But beyond these biggies, here are more of the everyday joys that have lit up my year:

Favorite new places to eat in Paris: Bones and Mary Celeste.

Favorite new utensils: my Earlywood spatulas, scrapers, and spreaders, my fabulous new chef’s knife, and my cinnamon grater.

Here are some of the everyday joys that have lit up my year.

Favorite new chocolates: bean-to-bar unconched chocolate by Nicolas Berger for Alain Ducasse, and Marou’s organic chocolate from Vietnam, especially the 70% from the Mekong delta.

Best breakfast: The entirely homemade breakfast served at In De Wulf the morning after (see picture above).

Favorite new cookbooks: Michelle Tam’s Nom Nom Paleo and Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Isa Does It.

Most mileage on a single recipe: the Roasted Cauliflower à la Mary Celeste, which has become a weekly fixture at my table.

Most popular non-food recipe: my travel-friendly homemade natural deodorant.

Favorite new way to prepare zucchini: as Raw Zucchini Noodles.

Favorite new magic wands to wave over my food: the Hazelnut Gremolata and the Magic Sauce.

Favorite new nut butters: Lightly Crunchy Almond Butter and Graines d’Alma’s Pumpkin Seed Butter.

Favorite new way to prepare onions: as Roasted Onions.

Favorite new ice cream recipes: the Mango Pistachio Cardamom Sorbet I created for the March issue of Vegetarian Times, and a Chocolate Coconut Sorbet I will post about very soon.

Favorite new feature on C&Z: posting monthly round-ups of links to document and share my recent finds and favorites.

Favorite reads: Rebecca Skloor’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah, Colum McCann’s Let The Great World Spin, and Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables (here’s the full list of what I read).

What about you?

What are some of the most memorable things you’ve seen, experienced, discovered, and tasted in 2013?

  • And now I have a cinnamon grater, thanks to you in 2013! Love your blog and all the good ideas I get from it. Happy New Year!

    • I’m so pleased! Are you loving it as much as I am? I gave a couple away for Christmas as well. :)

  • A vintage year indeed! And one of the reasons it was memorable for me was The French Market Cookbook, which has rapidly become one of my most-used cookbooks (I write this having just eaten the spelt and vegetable pilaf for dinner… perfect for a rainy winter evening in London).

    A few of my favourites:

    Holiday destinations: the Vaucluse and San Francisco (MY version of winning the lottery twice ;) )

    Most memorable meal: the dinner my boyfriend and I had in our rented cottage our last evening in Provence – tomato salad made with the most luscious tomatoes from the farm at the bottom of the village, fresh chevre, pain de campagne, tapenade, figs and a bottle of Cotes du Luberon

    Breakfast: I had a work trip to Australia (!) and have never known another country take breakfast as seriously as they do there. I’d have a hard time choosing one, but the breakfast I had at Lonsdale Street Roasters in Canberra is up there.

    Cookbook purchases: The French Market Cookbook; honourable mentions to David Lebovitz’s Ready for Dessert and Alice Waters’s The Art of Simple Food II

    Food-related read: The Story of Sushi by Trevor Corson

    Non-food-related read: Marcel Proust’s A la recherche du temps perdu – took me the entire year to read (with breaks) and I nearly gave up in the middle of Le côté de Guermantes, aka the longest dinner party in the history of mankind, but by the time I finished I wanted to read it all over again!

    New vegetable: samphire

    Most enjoyable new kitchen skill: might sound humble, but I finally figured out how to make a decent loaf of Irish brown bread

    A very happy new year to you, and I look forward to the unveiling of the new design – and the new book!

    • Thanks so much for sharing your “best of 2013” list, Rachel, lots of lovely memories and inspiring suggestions in there.

      I also have a mind to read A La Recherche du temps perdu after I so enjoyed the audiobook version read by André Dussollier (no relation). I think I will make a plan to get to it (at least partially) in 2014!

      • Oh, I had no idea there was an audiobook! I imagine Dussollier’s voice suits it really well. I’ll have to look for it!

        • It’s not the whole thing, just Du Côté de chez Swann, but it is an absolute treat to listen to. So good you wish you could eat it. :)

  • 10 years- wow!! That’s amazing. Congrats on the big birthday, sorry I missed it but hey better late than never. Your blog is awesome and foodie posts ROCK.

    • Thank you Kammie, the anniversary felt quite momentous!

  • Jill Center

    Happy New Year, Clotilde. Thanks for the return of the desk top calendar. Delightful.

    Also, thank you for autographing each of the copies of your new book, now distributed for Christmas and a birthday to five happier households of family and friends. Glad I could keep the last for myself.
    Cheers, Jill in San Francisco …

    P.S. My recent UC grad/JPL engineer niece especially loved your inscription, from one engineer to another…she, too, will be able to go anywhere.

    • Thank you so much Jill, I was so pleased to sign these books for you, and very much appreciate your sharing the love! Best wishes to you and yours.

  • Happy New Year and good health. I really enjoy the variety of subjects on your blog and it helps my French, which is very necessary. The cauliflower recipe looks very good, I’ll definitely try that, and also the hazelnut gremolata and the wonderful roasted onions.

    My son and daughter in law will probably visit the France show in London, I’ll pass on your January newsletter to them. She is a Japanese chef who does mainly lessons for amateur and professional cooks, and last year published her first cook book, Sushi at Home.

  • Clothilde congratulations on the site and good luck on the new book (I think I have figured it out ;) )
    Looking forward to spending 2014 reading anything you write.
    (PS: you are an inspiration when I blog and bake)

    • Thanks so much, Hata, it’s wonderful to know you’ll be following along in 2014! ^^

  • Madonna

    Happy New Year, Clotilde. And let me add my name to those thanking you for bringing back the desktop calendar.

    My best memory of 2013 is our 17-day trip to Chile in early November. We spent five days in the colorful and rough-edged city of Valparaiso. While in Valparaiso, we spent a day at a cooking class on traditional Chilean foods and wine, which included tours and tastings at two wineries; visits to the fish, vegetable, meat, and bread markets; followed by a hands-on class and a delicious dinner paired with wines we selected during our winery tours.

    We the spent three days near the end of the earth, in Punta Arenas. While there, we took a boat trip out to an island in the Straits of Magellan that is home to more than 100,000 penguins. We were able to see them in their natural environment and get close enough to touch (although touching wasn’t allowed so we only took photos). It was the coldest place I’ve ever been in my life. When we got back to town, we warmed up with freshly baked apple tarts and white hot chocolate at a charming little café called La Chocolatta.

    We then spent 9 wonderful days in Santiago. I think I left a piece of my heart there. I fell completely in love with the city. We had some wonderful meals, including two dinners shared with other guests at the B&B where we stayed, visited more wineries, spent a day at an eco resort in the Andes, ate more wonderful food, had great conversations with locals and people from all over the world who were staying at Casa Moro, saw all the major museums, spent a day shopping at the artisans market at Las Domenicas. It was the trip of a lifetime.

    I had some of the freshest and most delicious fish and seafood I’ve ever eaten in my life there. And not surprisingly, because of the availability and freshness of the fish and seafood, some of the best sushi I’ve ever eaten.

    My husband won the 2013 vacation coin toss, which was why we went to South America. It’s my turn this year, which means we will be spending two weeks in France. Dates to be determined.

    • Thanks so much for the trip report, Madonna, it does sound like it was the trip of a lifetime, and it makes me want to go to right this minute! If the Chilean tourism board isn’t rewarding you for being such a great ambassador, they definitely should. :)

      • Madonna

        You should definitely put Chile on your travel agenda, Clotilde. The scenery along the coast and in the mountains is spectacular. The food is diverse because of the vast size of the country and the many different cultures it encompasses and also very flavorful (my new favorite spice blend is merken), great wine, friendly people, fascinating museums. I think we’ll make a return trip.

  • Yes, Clothilde, that’s her book. I helped to edit her first draft before it went to Penguin, producing a cook book is a lot of very hard work isn’t it? I learnt a lot about Japanese food, which I really love now. I have given a couple of workshops here in La France Profonde and am often asked when I am going to do another. Japanese food seems to be very popular in France. But this month, a French friend is going to show a small group of British women how to make “Cake salé, massepain and cannelés”. It’s a great way of spending a winter’s morning.

    • It must have been a really engaging project to work on, and what a great opportunity to both connect with your daughter-in-law and hone your Japanese cooking skills!

  • ML

    Dear Clothilde,
    Many thanks for this post and for the wonderful French market cookbook. It is a perfect blend of elegance, simplicity and intelligent cooking (don’t waste, eat seasonal and get away from too much meat). I learned very simple day-to-day tricks like keeping a stockbox, making your own breadcrumbs and using your radish leaves, but of course also more refined ones to impress your guests! One recipe leads to the other, which means that I almost got to test them all by now (except for the spring season). Thank you!

    • Dear ML, I am printing your comment and putting it up over my desk. :) It sounds like the book speaks to you in exactly the way I hoped it would — thanks for making my day!

  • Happy New Year, dear Clotilde, congrats on your beautiful French Market cookbook and a very Happy 10th birthday to C&Z. 10 years!
    Highlights of my 2013 were a mid-year 4-week road trip in Scandinavia followed by 4 weeks in Russia and a trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway, with the low point of the year being deported from Russia because we messed up our visas. And then, just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, I got a plane ticket to Sweden for Christmas, and we’re back inside the Arctic Circle (in Finland at the moment) chasing the Northern Lights.
    Culinary highlights centre around my purchase of a Thermomix in November, and the learning and fun involved with the acquisition of this incredible machine. I’m making a lot of our food ‘from scratch’ – yoghurt, cheeses, breads and other baked goods, butter, herb and spice mixes plus lots of Christmas treats – nougat, Turkish delight, macarons, fruit cakes and I’ve already forgotten what else.
    I wish you all the very best for 2014 – I hope it is a wonderful year for us all! xx

    • It sounds like it was a fabulous year for food and traveling — I imagine the deportation hiccup will soon become a fun story to tell. :)

  • Hi Clotilde,
    Thanks for sharing your best of for 2013.
    My 2013 will be remembered for the year that I had my first child, got married, moved to the country side from the city and turned 40!! A big one full of wonderful times…am looking forward to another great year.
    Thanks for being there throughout with your fab recipes and amazingly inspiring blog.

    • That sounds like an unforgettable year indeed — congratulations on all counts! I hope your kid is doing well and that you still find quality time to spend in the kitchen.

  • Rebeca

    On a food related note, 2013 was the year I made a habit of making yogurt, almond milk and almond butter. I also made gougères for the first time – I don’t know what took me so long! A big hit was getting a KitchenAid, it sure makes a lot of things easier when you have a lousy elbow!
    It was the year my niece was born, and watching her grow is a wonderful thing. We had planned a big holiday to Canada, but it had to be cancelled because our home suffered some serious damage. While that wasn’t a good part of the year, the help and love we got from family and friends were unbelievable.
    Just this morning, I got your book as a present. I’d been meaning to buy it for such a long time! It’s a beautiful book, Clotilde, and I can’t wait to cook from it. Thank you for your great work!

    • Thank you, dear Rebeca, for sharing the highlights of your year. Sorry to hear about your home, and so glad you found a way to see the positive side of the experience. Here’s to a more serene 2014!

  • Looks like you had a wonderful year. I didn’t know that cinnamon graters existed….will have to look into that!

    • It isn’t a household item yet, and Cinnamon Hill has come up with a unique design — it’s a gorgeous object, too, one I am happy to keep on my countertop for all my cinnamon needs. :)

  • Stephanie

    My husband surprised my with your French Market Cookbook last week. You know how the first weeks of January can be so depressing, after all the fuss and festivity are over? Well anyway I was having a rough week, and your new book was on my Christmas wishlist so he just came home with it one day. What a lovely surprise, and what a fantastic book! I’ve already made your Roasted Veggies with Gribriche for a pot luck and Apple Sugar Tart, and both were immense hits. I can’t wait to try more.
    Thank you for brightening up my January, I’m sure this book will be as stained and creased as my copy of your first book is, in short order.

    • I couldn’t be more touched by your comment, Stephanie, and what a thoughtful husband you have! I am delighted that you’re enjoying the book, and hope you’ll report back on any other recipe you’re inspired to try.

  • Hello Clotilde,

    I just stumbled upon your website via a list of blogs for a balanced foodie (that I certainly am!) and it is my best luck to see this as the first post here.

    Now I have a whole lot of great articles to go through, looking forward, thank you very much!

    • Thank you Jamie! I hope you enjoy browsing around.

  • Congratulations on ten years! I have loved reading the site and living some of your Parisian life vicariously and through food. Thank you for all of the inspiration!

  • I’ve read so many great things about Nom Nom Paleo. I have to get it now. Thanks for the suggestion.

  • Chris

    Hi Clotilde, congratulations. I have a question on your Thermomix: are you still enthousiastic & do you use it often? Would you advice it over a Magimix? Is there more info on this blog? Greetings from Holland.

    • I wonder if perhaps you’re mistaking me for someone else? I don’t own a Thermomix.

      • Chris

        Hi. I searched your website, this remark on Thermomix came up:

        “Best of 2013 – Chocolate & Zucchini
        Jan 7, 2014 … Culinary highlights centre around my purchase of a Thermomix in November, and the learning and fun involved with the acquisition of this …”

        One of your visitors I assume. Thank you.

        • That’s right, it was a comment from Judy below. Perhaps you can submit your question to her? For what it’s worth, a friend of mine has a Thermomix and he swears by it. :)

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