I’m going to be totally honest with you. I’m not even sure how an entire year has gone by already.
I remember last December, last Christmas (RIP George), and last NYE as if it were yesterday. It’s kind of nuts how fast a year can go by when you’re having fun and working a lot (and gaining weight).
Seriously I think I gained 10 pounds though. Whatever. All in the name of R&D, right? That’s what I’ll tell myself.
I thought it would be cool to do a little year in review. Basically we’re going to see exactly where my waistline started expanding. Gonna be a good time, I can feel it.
Year in Review
- Had my first piece for Food Network’s FN Dish go live, which was exciting. Other than that, January is stupid. No one does anything in January except attempt (emphasis on “attempt”) to detox. Let’s move on.
- Valentine’s Day is in this month. Hate Valentine’s Day so I won’t say much about that but I will say it was still fun. I saw Billy Joel (he’s my favorite) and had Rubirosa vodka pie after (with a side of neurosis). All things Dara likes (and things her date didn’t #lol). You know what else is in February?
- The Super Bowl! I throw a party every year and make delicious things. This year I partnered with Chobani to make some lightened up versions of Super Bowl snacks. Who knew Blue Cheese Burger Dip would be just as tasty with ground turkey and Greek yogurt? I DID.
- The South Beach Wine & Food Festival! My favorite event next to the Aspen Food & Wine Classic. I’ll probably be attending again this year, and hopefully leaving with a touch more self respect. There was a lot of eating, a lot of drinking, and a lot of embarrassing moments. I guess that’s not really all that different from my everyday though. If you happen to attend any of the large scale events (Grand Tasting, Burger Bash, etc), my strategy is this: divide and conquer with a friend. We start at the back with the friend on one side, me on the other. We grab food, then we meet in the middle to eat and take pics of both items. Then disperse and repeat til we work our way towards the front. THEN we drink. Everybody wins! And if you haven’t been to Yardbird yet – GO ASAP. I love it and try to go whenever I visit Miami. So delicious.
- SPEEDY ROMEO. This was the first time I visited and I still remember every vivid detail. The White Album pie will forever be one of my favorites and I typically don’t even like white pizza. It’s INCREDIBLE. With ricotta, mozzarella, garlic, and ALL the pecorino salty cheesy goodness…it’s so perfect.
- My first original recipe created for Thrillist went live! Exciting stuff. It was a funnel cake ice cream sandwich with “Oreo sugar”. I made that part up. It was crushed up (ok obliterated) Oreos mixed with sugar. Pretty easy to do honestly, check the recipe here.
- My birthday is in April, so I guess that’s something. I went to Marea for dinner that night and it was delicious. I had heard of this red wine/bone marrow braised octopus fusilli pasta for all my years as a food writer, and never had it until the ripe age of 32. Go figure. Either way, 100% worth the wait. I nearly cried thinking about it just now…and also because I was skinny back then. UGH this was when it started…
- Chef’s Club brunch hosted by Dana Cowin and my homie Jeremy from @brunchboys. Epic #squadgoals. This was a great experience and my first time ever inside Chef’s Club. Gorgeous space, great food, and we ate a ton of beautiful brunch food and washed it down with a mimosa from the mimosa bar. Heaven. Also happens to be where I got this amazing photo.
- Cinco de Mayo! I made a candied bacon churro margarita for FreshDirect’s service FoodKick (which was new at the time). What is it? Just think of all those times you have friends over and didn’t really prepare properly – that’s where FoodKick comes in to save your ass. You can order drinks, mixers, apps, snacks, and more for delivery, and it arrives in the same day usually within an hour. Wings and dumplings? You got it. Vodka, tequila, lemons, and limes? YEP. Hell you can even order condoms because you never know where the night may take you.
- Aspen Food & Wine Classic! Hands down best food event I’ve ever attended. Aspen is gorgeous this time of year, despite the weird weather (felt like 85-90 during the day and then 30 at night, so packing was tricky, just FYI), and it’s one of the more exclusive food events of the year. They keep it very small for a reason. To give you some scale – SOBEWFF is about 30,000 people…Aspen is 5,000. The events are less crowded (huge plus), the people are more laid back and friendly, and it’s a much more relaxing experience overall. There isn’t as big of a party scene as Miami (or at least that was MY experience), but in my old age I am very ok with that. I’m lucky if I stay awake past midnight these days. The one downside of Aspen is that everything is a lot more spread out. Thankfully most of the hotels provide free shuttles during the festival, but it’s not as nice as Miami where you can pretty much walk everywhere. Can’t wait to go back though because I love being lazy.
- Kore New York. One of the hardest workouts of my life but VERY worth the pain. I saw my abs coming in after just one month while doing it twice a week. I had to stop though because I developed arthritis in my foot and it’s made working out difficult. AWESOME. Because lots of people get early onset arthritis at 32. Anyway here’s a shot of me flexing post-workout to show the results. You’re welcome. And calm down, Mom, it’s basically a bikini. Not to mention I don’t look like this anymore. #sadface.
- Here’s what I look like now.
July. Ahh July. America.
- Pinknic. Attended the city’s first rose-themed large scale picnic on Governors Island. It was honestly so fun. It didn’t hurt that we had VIP access but does that ever hurt? The area was a good size, they had great bands performing (sup Miami Horror), and they had a TON of rose and little picnic baskets created by Chef Chris Santos of Vandal. So awesome. The cons? They ran out of the picnic basket that I originally reserved, so I feel that wasn’t a good look – if someone is reserving something, you should have enough for those reservations. Also MORE BLANKETS. They ran out of picnic blankets by the time we got there and we didn’t get there super late. All that said, I honestly had a great time with my girlfriends and hope to be back next year. Bonus: loved the all white and pink outfit rule. I normally hate things like that, but it definitely added a fun element to the theme.
- Westchester. I started making some trips out to Polpettina in July and decided to make it more of a point to get out this way. Westchester is pretty underrated in the food world and they have some great stuff out there. Polpettina, Fortina, The Wooden Spoon, Walters Hot Dogs, and Cherry Lawn Farm with the best iced coffee ever…just to name a few. I need to visit more spots in 2017.
- Ruschmeyer’s Burger Night! I tapped the pizza/burger power couple (Matt and Emily Hyland) of Emily and Emmy Squared to bring their delicious Emmy Burger to Montauk. Ruschmeyer’s is that place you go when you’re young and you want to drink/dance your face off with friends. There’s usually a long line out the door and inside it’s butts to nuts. Pardon my french but you know what I mean. Being that we were there to eat, we came during a more civilized hour for dinner, and it was amazing. We even stayed one night (I had no idea it was also a hotel of sorts) in the little rooms out back. They’re like bungalows and while they’re small, they were super cute, clean, and air conditioned. Isn’t that really all you need in the summer? One request: some shelf space in the bathroom – I had nowhere to put anything. The welcome basket made up for it though (Montauk Summer IPA and Pirates Booty?!) so I would definitely return.
- Mister Dips opened at the William Vale right by me in Williamsburg! Awesome retro RV serving up amazing burgers and soft serve – Andrew Carmellini strikes again. Closed until Spring because it’s outdoors, but GO when it reopens!!
- Wolves of Wainscott. Ok that’s not a real name (or a thing) but that was the name of our crew in the Hamptons this summer. FreshDirect partnered with me again to help me stock the fridge and I am SO THANKFUL that they deliver out East!! Food shopping for 6-7 people would have been such a bitch and this made everything a BREEZE. Cannot wait for next year. Watermill house (you know who you are), we’re comin for you.
- Halloween. I got my zombie makeup done by Salon718 in Brooklyn, but my actual Halloween festivities took place at the McKittrick Hotel, which was AWESOME. We were “damsels in distress” and I would 100% recommend this party to anyone over the age of 25. It was an older crowd (but not super old AND this could be because it was on a Monday this year), the music was a good mix of house/deep house/trancey stuff that went well with the Halloween vibe, and each room was different – if you’re unaware, this is the same space where they do Sleep No More. The costumes and decor were on point; I’m a very jaded New Yorker so when things like this actually impress me, I feel the need to spread the word.
- Croissant Crawl with Extra Crispy. Jackie from @noleftovers and I did a Croissant Crawl to find the best croissants in Brooklyn. Fun, carb-filled day filming with this crew and discovering Almondine (best, IMHO), Bien Cuit, Mazzolas, Myers Bageri, and Caprices by Sophie. Watch the video here.
- THANKSGIVING. NOTHING ELSE MATTERS. Just kidding but Thanksgiving is important. Here’s my turkey recipe if you need one. This method can also be applied to chicken.
- Wagamama opened in Flatiron. I have nostalgic/heartfelt memories of Wagamama from old sales trips I used to make to Boston – they had a Wagamama in the Prudential Center. For all I know they still have one there, but the best thing was ordering ramen to my hotel room. Because who doesn’t love eating noodles in bed?
- Foursquare Facebook Live. My homeskillet Jeremy from @brunchboys and I did a blind taste testing of the 5 best chocolate chip cookies in NYC according to Foursquare and I guessed nearly all of them – 4 out of 5 aint bad! Watch here.
- Tasting Table Facebook Live where I helped Jake Cohen MAKE chocolate chip cookies – we added M&Ms because why not? It was fun. Watch here.
- Christmas – my favorite holiday. I made a Gift Guide with all of my favorite gift ideas this year, and cooked a bunch of things like this delicious bacon caramel popcorn and Bacon Jams chocolate bark.