Welcome to 2016, everybody! Hopefully this post will sneak in under the wire as a Timely and Relevant Hot Take on great things from 2015 before we get too far into this exciting new arbitrarily designated temporal unit! Here, without further ado, some more of my favorite things from this past calendar year! (Check out Part 1 for notes on books and music and please leave a note if you have favorites from 2015 that you want to share!)
**NB: These are things I enjoyed this calendar year, not necessarily things that were released/created in the last 12 months. I'm behind the curve pretty much always, but on the assumption that you might be, too, I hazard that some of these might still be useful!**
2015 was a *great* year for food! I ate and drank very many delicious things, most of which you can either seek out or make for yourself with a minimum of effort!
for Eating Out...
1. EVERYTHING but especially the potato brioche with buttermilk butter at Rose's Luxury (Washington, DC)
2. The lamb burger at The Breslin (NYC)
3. A+ cheese plate game at District Kitchen & Bar (Pittsfield, MA)
4. Peas with smoked ricotta and housemade sourdough at Wassail (NYC)
5. The last-chance 3-course menu at my dear departed Hungry Mother (Cambridge, MA)
Honorable Mentions: Oktoberfest dinner at Bronwyn (Somerville, MA), the halloumi salad at Tatte (Cambridge/Boston, MA), and every single thing I ate at the Brooklyn Smorgasburg...
1. Pear-walnut upside-down cake from Cook's Illustrated
2. French coconut pie from Cook's Country
3. My first brioche! adapted from Cook's Illustrated Baking Book
4. Homemade duck confit and yeasted waffles (copycatted from a great diner in Salem, MA) from Cook's Illustrated and the America's Test Kitchen DIY Cookbook
5. All things in a skillet at all times (coming VERY SOON to a bookstore near you...)
Bonus: My favorite ingredients this year were dukkah (I get mine at Sofra but you can definitely make it. I'm addicted, I put it on everything), pears, and ground lamb.
1. Ciders at Wassail (NYC)
2. Ciders at Bantam (Somerville, MA)
3. Witch's Brew punch Halloween weekend at 2 Birds, 1 Stone (Washington, DC)
4. Whistle Pig cocktails at the inaugural meeting of Women Who Whiskey, Boston Chapter (held at Saloon in Somerville, MA)
5. Gin from Stonecutter Spirits (Middlebury, VT)
ASIDE: As you may be able to tell from these lists, I went on some wonderful adventures this year to NYC (x3!), Western Mass/Central NY, Vermont, and DC (also Chicago, Cape Cod, and Virginia). I didn't get around to writing up travel posts from all of those trips, but I hope to share more details in future entries.
I know I have already talked about podcasts at some length, but that was MONTHS ago. I've started listening to almost a dozen new ones since then, because podcasts are the best, and also because I'm addicted. Here are a few of my favorite new finds since my last rant about this wonderful, wonderful medium. (It should be read as implied that I still love all of my old recs to death, as well.)
1. The Eater Upsell - Because of my job and my interests I listen to quite a few food-centric podcasts, but this is the only one I consistently enjoy. Helen Rosner is one of the hosts and also one of my internet crushes/heroes, and she's very smart and actually engages with the guests on the show rather than asking all the predictable old bullshit interview questions. And they get great, interesting guests. Two of my favorites this season were Jen Agg and Garrett Oliver.
2. SRSLY - Yet another British ladies podcast that I LOVE. This is like 1/2 Rosie & Jessica and 1/2 Pop Culture Happy Hour so obviously it's like candy to me. Their Harry Potter episode is super brilliant.
3. Limetown - I found the acting/writing of this a little bit hit-or-miss occasionally but I love all the innovative things that people have been doing with the possibilities for serialized narrative fiction in podcasts and this was the most compelling new addition I heard in 2015.
4. The Memory Palace - Nate DiMeo is a beautiful writer and he tells stories that are tiny, shimmering jewels. Plus you'll probably learn something, too. I binged most of this show over one weekend after meeting Nate at a Radiotopia event and several of the episodes made me cry. Try this one or this one.
5. NPR Politics - I'm always shamefully out-of-touch with politics. And that's even more embarrassing (and potentially hazardous) in an election year. But NPR is looking out for me: They've created a round-table podcast (in the model of my beloved Pop Culture Happy Hour!) with a rotating panel of smart, articulate people to discuss the important issues of the day in an accessible way without being too simplistic or condescending. I have been thoroughly enjoying this new podcast since it came out and it makes me feel at least 70% more informed. Plus they have occasional special episodes, like this one with Supreme Court justice Stephen Breyer, which was one of the most informative and entertaining things I heard all year.
1. Other Media: You may have noticed that I didn't include lists of movies or TV shows, which are usually staple fare on these kinds of posts. This is simply because I don't consume as much of those things, so I didn't have enough relevant favorites. But I did watch/enjoy the following this year: Mad Men Season 7, Jessica Jones, Broadchurch Series 1 (I watched but DID NOT ENJOY Series 2), Jane the Virgin; Big Hero 6, Inside Out, Trainwreck, Spotlight. Like I said, not much.
2. Email Newsletters: Along with podcasts, these are probably my new favorite alternative medium for regularly receiving joy. I subscribe to about a dozen right now and my strongest recommendations are Two Bossy Dames; The Ann Friedman Weekly; So Far, I've Had No Complaints; and Five Song Fridays.
3. New Music Discovery: I probably should have mentioned this when I was talking about music in Part 1, but one of the best things to happen to me this year was Spotify's Discover Weekly playlist service. I've recently learned (via the above-endorsed Two Bossy Dames newsletter!) a little more about how it works but mostly I still just like to think of it as pure, beautiful magic. If you think we have overlapping tastes, feel free to follow mine to double up on your weekly discovery.
4. Fashion Forward: My best personal style discoveries this year were the magic of wearing tight under shorts (and socks over tights) and finally getting a little more comfortable with lipstick. I also bought my first pair of Doc Martens and started wearing pants again after a long hiatus with only skirts and dresses. Thrilling, I know.
5. Local Explorations: All in all, one of my favorite things about the last year has been getting back into exploring the cool place I live. This has meant wandering through new areas and visiting new places and just enjoying the Boston/Camberville area. Watch for an upcoming post about some of my favorite places in our fair city and great ways to adventure in your own backyard.