January 1, 2013

12 Food Highlights from 2012!

It's that time of year, when everyone makes lists from 2012. I ate some Oscar Dogs, helped bring together some great minds in food at FOODSTOCK and the LongHouse Food Revival, ate yet another best-meal-ever at Arthur Bryant's BBQ, drove from Boston to Austin fork in hand, and traversed the streets of New York searching out the tastiest bites.

Here are my top 12 favorite food moments, in no particular order.

Also, check out my favorite bites around Brooklyn for 2012 in the Brooklyn Paper.


1. Oscar Dogs and Super Tuesday Super Burgers

This year included some American standards -- hotdogs and hamburgers -- in very non-standard form. The year started off with a bang last February with Oscar Dogs, 9 hot dogs inspired by the 9 nominees for best film at the Academy Awards, and was followed shortly after by Super Tuesday Super Burgers, 9 burgers inspired by the Republican presidential nominees. 

2. Okonomiyaki Party at Wesleyan 

When I was little, pancakes for dinner were the best. You know, like, the best. Well, it turns out, they still are -- particularly when you make them Japanese-style. Okonomiyaki are a savory Japanese pancake, often filled with vegetables like shredded cabbage and scallions and seafood like shrimp. My favorite part is finding inventive toppings for the pancakes. In place of maple syrup, these guys get topped with chili sauce, peanut sauce, mayonnaise, soy sauce, plum sauce -- you name it. They also make for a perfect, informal dinner party food. 

3. LongHouse Food Revival 

This summer, I began co-producing the LongHouse Food Revivals with Molly O'Neill and CookNScribble. These gatherings of food thought leaders take place in barns, include a top-notch list of speakers, and are accompanied by some seriously good eats. There are plenty more coming up in 2013, so keep your eyes peeled (and your minds and stomachs as the ready)!

4. Pasta Pizza

I already brought you the pasta sandwich, but baking pasta onto a pizza might be even better carb-on-carb. It's baked pasta you can eat like pizza.

5. Crazy Hat Sandwiches 

Damiano and I continued our sandwich stand Wesleyan's Farmers Market. We also eventually gave our little operation a name: Crazy Hat Sandwiches. While the venture ended after we graduated in May, the memory of one of my favorite sandwiches still lingers long after, our mofongo sandwich, filled with fried plantains. I'll miss Wesleyan, and I'll sure miss those sandwiches.

6. Arthur Bryant's BBQ, Kansas City 

Both my parents are from Kansas City, and I've been eating at Arthur Bryant's BBQ for as long as I can remember. Every meal this is a memorable meal, but one in particular, shared this summer with my grandfather, siblings and cousins, was particularly significant for me. The best KC BBQ beef in the world, the tangy, vinegar-spiked sauce, the perfect fries, the sweet sliced pickles, the towering cups of lemonade and the great company and the timeless setting make this a highlight of 2012. But to be honest, Arthur Bryant's would probably make my list every year.

7. Calvin Trillin Reading in NYC

Many writers have been influential to me as a food writer, but Calvin Trillin ranks among the very top. With his endless wit, his unceasing hunger and his keen insight into the way America eats, he helped set the standard for modern American food writing. This fall, I saw him give a reading in NYC, where just hearing his words made me hungry.

8. Popovers, Jordan's Pond, Maine 

The Jordan Pond House in in Acadia National Park in Maine has a full menu, and everything is good. But everyone in the know understands that you really go for one reason: the popover. Eggy, rich and filling, this steaming snacks are best eaten with a healthy slatering of butter and strawberry jam. One will never do, and making it out having eaten less than three is a challenge.


Before producing the LongHouse Food Revival, I was an organizer for FOODSTOCK, Wesleyan's first, and quite fabulous, food writing conference. We had an all-star cast of speakers including Molly O'Neill, Ruth Reichl, Eric Asimov, Dorie Greenspan, Sara Kate Gillingham Ryan and many more. Food trucks, amazing seminars, a pop-up book shop and more made this a one of a kind conference.

10. The Great American Road Trip

I documented part of a road trip I took this summer from Boston to Austin (and back again) via New York, Detroit, Chicago and Kansas City. The open road and a tour of American regional food at its best (and most buttery!) were just a few of the highlights from this great, American road trip.

11. Hunting for good eats in NYC

Every walk down a street in New York City is a chance to come across some fabulous food. Here, 6 dumplings for $1 in Chinatown.

12. Crab Ring Mold, 1942-Style

This summer I made my grandmother's recipe for crab ring mold, an old school recipe complete with gelatinized crabmeat in thousand island dressing. It's an interesting food, and as unforgettable in 2012 as I'm sure it was in 1942.