The year 2010 was filled with so many fabulous memories of food, travel and friends. Through writing this blog, I've made many new friends, who have also become regular readers of the blog. Whenever I see a comment or get an email from a reader who has made a recipe or visited a restaurant or place I wrote about, I'm ecstatic. I love them! Please keep the emails and comments coming. I truly love to hear how your dishes and travels turn out.
Below are my best memories of the year. Many of them are also some of the most popular posts on Food Lover's Odyssey, so it looks like they're your favorites, too. Thank you for traveling, and eating, along with me. I wish all of you a very Happy New Year and a 2011 full of great food, friends and happy travels!
Pasta and Friends in Rome
Usually I've planned my meals before I step foot off the plane or train in Rome. Pasta Dishes in Rome are some of the best in Italy. It looks like you agree as the post, Roman Pasta Dishes and 10 Places in Rome to Eat Them, was the most popular of all others in 2010. Although I love all of them, my favorite is L'Amatriciana. The readers' favorite was Cacio e Pepe in a Parmesan Bowl inspired by the trattoria Roma Sparita. This year I got to eat these dishes again at some of my favorite trattorie and was able to recreate those two along with Potato Gnocchi for Gnocchi Giovedi and the fall specialty Fettuccine ai Funghi.
Not only were my Rome memories filled with pasta, but they were also filled with friends. I met up with Daniel - my "big brother from another mother" - yes, the Daniel from my stories in Venice. We became fast friends last year. Although it had been a year since we'd seen each other, it felt as if no time had passed when we met up again in Rome. After days filled with sights and pasta, we would walk off our meals under the city in lights. Paris may be called the City of Lights, but Rome at night is just as enchanting.
As the Italian saying goes, "Rome, una vita non basta." (Rome, one life is not enough.) Because it is so true, I'm already planning meals for my return in March. I can promise you more pasta posts from Rome and recreations of those dishes in 2011.
After pasta in Rome, this was my favorite dish of 2010. Though it has been almost 6 months since I've tasted that sauce of the sea, so simple and so intense, it still lingers in my memories, if not on my tongue. I remember every last drop that I sopped up with the thick country bread.
I love this post and this dish for so many reasons - how I obtained the recipe, the history of the dish, how good it is, and that it helped me win a contest! I was lucky to have the chef at Capo di Ferro in Rome give me his recipe for this dish. It, along with the other offal dishes of Rome, is rooted in Rome's culinary history and La Cucina Povera. By recreating this dish and writing about it, I was the winner of the September GranTourismo Travel Blogging Contest. My prize is a stay in a HomeAway apartment, which I will be using in Venice in March 2011.
Seeing Napoli with Napoli Unplugged
I first met the Napoli Unplugged duo, Bonnie and Steve, via Twitter. While I was in Napoli this year, we met face-to-face. The American expats have adopted the city as their own. Their love for Napoli and their gracious and welcoming spirits are equal to any of the Neapolitans I've met.
They took me to a feast of several Neapolitan food courses at Ristorante Buon Gustaio on via Posillipo. Afterwards, they gave me a night tour of their neighborhood in Posillipo. We had a Cafe del Nonno (creamy dreamy dessert-like coffee with ice and a little chocolate) from Antonio. Over the cafe, I met some of the local characters in the neigborhood. Bonnie, Steve and their son had me cracking up over their stories of the city and wanting to return for a New Year's Eve in Napoli. Another day, Bonnie gave me a personal tour of her classic stroll through the Centro Storico. Grazie Tanto Bonnie and Steve!
Although there is so much more to the food of Naples than just pizza, pizza in Napoli is always a highlight for me. This year, I ate pizza in Napoli, and I made it. It was a pizza class in Sorrento through Ciao Laura. We actually made three courses in total, but the highlight was the pizza, cooked in a wood-burning oven. The class, geared towards cooks of all levels, was so much fun but also very educational. The group ranged from teenagers who may never have stepped in a kitchen before to a guy from Canada that had been making pizza professionally for 10-plus years. We each made the type of pizza we wanted, then shared it with the group. I made the classic pizza margherita, which was exceptional. After this class, I'm inspired to make more pizza. That is, once I build my own wood-burning oven.
Foie Gras for Breakfast in the Dordogne
I spent a month in the Dordogne in France. It was work-related, but I was also able to venture out and see some of the villages, towns and cities in the area. Although I haven't shared all my travels with you yet, here are a two: Market Day in Sarlat and Duck Dishes of Dordogne. In that month, I'm sure I ate more duck than I had in my entire life, even having foie gras for breakfast at a market one morning. In the next month or two I will share the rest of my travels in Dordogne, and maybe a duck dish, with you.
Pesto and Other Dishes in Liguria
Liguria was not in my plans for 2010, but the July heat and humidity in Italy had me making some minor travel adjustments. Instead of a visit inland to Tuscany, I spent a week mostly lounging on the beach in the Cinque Terre. I did get off my lettino (sun bed) to visit Camogli and a few other coastal towns. Along with the beach and my lettino, fish and seafood were highlights of my visit. Besides the fish ravioli I mentioned above, other highlights included Pesto, Seafood Risotto, Spaghetti allo Scoglio.
A Sicilian Holiday Dinner
Sadly, I didn't get to Sicily in 2010. I was able to transport myself and others to Sicily with a few dishes for a December birthday dinner party. Involtini di Melanzane (Stuffed Eggplant rolls), Spaghetti Siracusana, Braciola di Maiale (Braised Pork Roll), Lemon Granita and the Torta Setteveli (included in my best sweet memories of 2010). When I cook for others, I'm giving and sharing part of myself with them. It was such a pleasure to share the island I love so much with Paula (who's also Sicilian-American), her family and her friends.
Le Fete du Vin in Bordeaux -- Especially the Spectacular Light Show Finale
Many travel to the Bordeaux region and visit only the wine regions located outside the city. My first trip to the region, I did just that. This trip I went mainly to check out Le Fete du Vin, but found a truly vibrant city with so much history. I can't wait to go back. The wine festival was more about sipping and socializing, than actual wine education, but it was fun. And, where else but in France would there be foie gras as festival street fare and free samples of Jambon de Bayonne?
The highlight of the event was the Light Show Finale, which told the history of Bordeaux through light images and an audio retelling. The buildings on Place de la Bourse were used as screens for the light show. I thought it also appropriate to end this post with a slideshow of the photos I took during the show.
What was your best food and/or travel memory of 2010?