2010: Most Memorable Food Moments

by Matt on December 28, 2010

Boy.

Whew.

Damn.

As I sit here and let out a massive sigh and reflect on 2010, I can’t help but feel dizzy. Elated, exhausted, spent, happy but definitely dizzy.

And it’s been one of the best years of my life.

In the past twelve months I traveled. I wrote a book. I photographed. I spoke. I lectured. I listened. I learned. I worked my ass off. I spent 3.268 months on the road. I laughed more than any human should be allowed, and I even cried just a little bit.

I made new friends. I turned 40. I realized that everything I’ve ever done has led me to this point of my life, even when I hadn’t a clue. I realized the best is yet to come. I realized I’m old enough to know better but still young enough to do it (I think).

I realized that being in business for yourself is what makes me happiest even if it’s scary as shit most days.

And I did it all with one of the most beautiful people I could ever hope to know: my talented, gorgeous, plane-delaying husband.

I can’t even really summarize what this year has been for me in anything other than general terms. It hurts my brain if I tried. Suffice it to say that more has happened in the last 365 days than in the last 10 years of my life.  I’ll leave it at that.

But perhaps the most important thing about this year and this blog is you. Yes, you. Readers and friends, the ones who stop by and engage me, teach me, entertain me, leave comments, send messages. And what, you thought I was blogging just for me?  To you I offer my heartfelt gratitude. It’s you that keeps me here.

And I thank Gwyneth Paltrow, too. I really do.

Rather than work on highlights I’ll just select my most memorable meals of 2010. The flavors of these moments, the memories, and the company in which they were shared will forever be important to me. Let’s jump right in, shall we?

1. Tortillas, Mexico

In January we headed to Mexico for the Food Blogger Camp in Ixtapa, Mexico where I successfully lived off of fresh corn tortillas for 5 days. And a few margaritas, naturally. Back in January I wrote:

A great tortilla is a marvel: warm, fluffy yet dense with a chewy texture and true corn flavor. One bite and you begin to curse the grocery store variety for its lack of character and its boring uniformity. Luckily for all of us we were treated to glorious handmade tortillas three times a day: as the base for a hearty huevos rancheros, wrapped around tender lengua for lunch, and as an ancient utensil for folding around mole de pollo for dinner. And the tortillas de maiz were just so perfect that no plate ever went uncovered with at least a few thrown on top for good measure. Many times I’d tuck spoonfuls of fresh guacamole inside, top with a sprinkle of salty cotija cheese and dollops of cool-yet-picante salsa y nada mas. A perfect lunch.

That pretty much sums it up. I’m looking forward to the hunt for marvelous tortillas next month as we return to Mexico yet again for another Food Blogging Camp. Can’t wait to see everyone!

2. Coq au vin A la Biche au Bois, Paris

I tend to order coq au vin every time I see it on a menu which means I’ve had plenty of so-so versions of this dish. It seems I can never pass up chicken, wine, onions, mushrooms and lardons even when I suppose I should. I’m happy to say that my dish at this Parisian spot hit the mark. Thanks to David for taking us and to read his review of A la Biche au Bois here. It was a perfect Paris evening!

3. Lunch Tarragona, Spain

Last summer while speaking at a conference we joined our friends Denise, Cindie and Nico for a long afternoon lunch at Txantxangorri restaurant in Placa de la Font. It was simple and oh-so-Spanish, one of those moments when you can’t top the combination of excellent company, chilled red wine (yes, chilled), platters of potatoes, padron peppers and morcilla and quickpeas.  Was it the greatest Spanish food I’ve ever eaten? No. Was it one of the best moments of the year? Absolutely.

4. Adam’s Birthday Dinner Jitlada, Los Angeles

Have you been to Jitlada, the darling of Hollywood’s Thai town? It’s a favorite for those seeking flavor and lots of heat, but the southern Thai specialties towards the back of the menu stand apart from anything else. Fried morning glory salad, deep fried fish, green curry mussels, anytime we eat here is a treat. Add close friends and lots of beer to the mix and it’s super special. And yes, I was sucking the meat off the fin of that fish, I wasn’t about to let any go to waste. Photo by Wade Hammond.

5. Dinner and drinks Hotel Meurice, Paris

This past September I joined the team from Veuve Clicquot for the harvest in Reims. Before our trip to the champagne region we had a splendid dinner at Hotel Meurice that involved champagne (Veuve, naturally) and a dish of foie gras with hazelnuts and cherries. To this day I dream of that special evening, I really did feel like a kid in a candy shop. Beautiful hotel, delicious champagne, Paris. Do you really need anything else?

6. Deep Fried Candy Bars San Diego County Fair

Lest you think I’m a snob who is just picking meals so I can say “Paris, France” over and over again, I’d like to remind you that I can get down and dirty with the best of them. And while doing research for my upcoming book I finally had the chance to enjoy Deep Fried Mars Bars. And let me tell you the personal dilemma I have with them: how can something so inherently disgusting and trashy and over the top be so completely delicious? How? How? Someone please tell me. Because they are truly are tasty. And I hesitated including them here (and in my book but more on that later!) but jeez, I’m weak to their greasy spell.

7. Kimchi Jjigae All The Damn Time, our house, Long Beach

There’s not one specific moment that I can remember when it comes to this Korean tofu and kimchi soup. Even if there was it almost wouldn’t matter; this has been the most served dish at home this year and with good reason (the photo above was taken at BCD Tofu house, in case you were wondering.) Starting with a base of anchovy broth and water, kimchi is added, then gojujang, sometimes pork belly and always tofu. We’ll set out banchan, various little side dishes to serve alongside, and then eat the soup for days until it disappears. And of course it gets better with time. We’re both not sure why we are addicted to this soup so much. Man I need to visit Korea now. Who’s comin’ with?

8. Socca Chez Pipo, Nice

Life-changing. Simple. And what my dining pals didn’t know is that I was only being nice by sharing the large plates of socca in front of me that day. I wanted to order more, actually. Chickpea flour, some water, olive oil, a dash of salt make a batter that’s poured in a large flat cake and baked, with a few rakes over the surface during the cooking process. It comes out warm, gets sprinkled with more salt and devoured instantly. Perfect finger food. I could eat this every single day.

9. Laksa Singapore

Please file this under No-Matter-How-You-Try-You-Just-Won’t-Be-Able-To-Have-It-This-Good-Unless-You-Go-Back. A coconut-based curry soup with thick tender rice noodles, I knew I would fall in love with this instantly. And perhaps I could start practicing to recreate it as close as possible, but eating a warm bowl of this on the streets of Singapore will always make it taste better.

10. Pretzel Croissant City Bakery, NYC

While New York City’s City Bakery has been around for 20 years I can say I never tried their Pretzel Croissants until this past summer. And then I tried it again. And again. And one last time. And then again during my last trip. I can now see what the fuss is about with this perfect little treat that is well, yes, half pretzel and half croissant. But I’m no baker so please don’t ask me about it. Just watch me eat them over and over and over and over…

I want to wish everyone a very happy and healthy New Year, there are so many exciting things coming up in 2011! I hope you’ll join me!



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{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

Brandie December 28, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Happy New Year to you and your husband – and thank you for sharing your food with us.

Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen December 28, 2010 at 5:46 pm

What an amazing year! I love that you say that – “I realized I’m old enough to know better but still young enough to do it (I think).” Yes! – what a great way to approach life and soak up everything it has to offer. I also agree that Socca is indeed life-changing. I love the Socca from Chez Thérésa at the farmer’s market in Vieux Nice, and judging from the long lines she always has, I must not be the only one!

food librarian December 28, 2010 at 5:56 pm

Happy New Year to you! Thanks for all the deliciousness and beautiful shots on your blog. Wishing you and your husband a great year filled with love, food, and not too many airlines incidents. ;) – mary the food librarian

Glenn December 28, 2010 at 5:56 pm

As always, your kindness toward others is relayed 10 fold. Matt and Adam your friendship affects sooo many, thank you for being the special people you are.

Sally December 28, 2010 at 6:16 pm

Matt, I so enjoyed this post and the sharing from your heart about this year. What you did, experienced, how you grew. Inspiring. Thank you! I think we all agree with the first three words in particular! Has it been a year since we first met you and Adam at your studio for that great workshop with Denise and Cindie? Whew. Congratulations on a fantastic year! Just think where 2011 will lead. We are all looking forward to the journey with you! Hugs and blessings.

Claudia December 28, 2010 at 6:38 pm

I have to agree with Sylvie! “I realized I’m old enough to know better but still young enough to do it (I think).” You have no idea how that hits home. In particular today :-)

I wish you all the best in the coming year. Here’s to more tortillas, amazing food, and amazing experiences with those near and dear! ¡Y te deseo un próspero año nuevo!

marla {family fresh cooking} December 28, 2010 at 7:11 pm

Matt it is great to read your fun memories from this year. I am so happy that I know you and your hubs for real. You are both amazing & I look forward to spending time with you next week in Cancun!
Was at Jitlada earlier this year with Gaby, Brooke & a few of the other gals. I agree that place is awesome. The mussels were freaking huge & fantastic. Did not suck the tail of a fish, but I do remember fried something or other being passed around.
France & Spain – - love to read about your exotic travels & look forward to more in 2011. btw: we both turned 40 this year. We are young enough to do whatever the hell we want – just have more wisdom to do it right. xo

Teri Y. December 28, 2010 at 8:13 pm

Yay, I’m so glad laksa made it to your list! I love Singapore and the food. My husband is Singaporean and I’m Malaysian and though the food is similar, we always argue on whether Singaporean laksa or Malaysian laksa is better :)

Allie December 28, 2010 at 9:37 pm

Wow Matt you have had quite a year! I’ve heard about your site and just had to check it out! Everything you eat, make and photograph is amazing. Keep up the great work and I look forward to reading more from you!

Cheryl Stoy December 28, 2010 at 9:45 pm

The tortillas rule! Happy New Year to you and yours…great blog and awesome photography. Wait til you get to 53…you not only do whatever you want, you reach diva status so you do it very well, often and at the expense of anyone younger who can’t believe you just did or said that. As my daughter and daughter-in-law said after me and the hubby spent 7 days at Disney World, 3 days in Vegas and then a week in London…after a brain storm at 2am that we needed to get away and have some fun. Without the family.

Cooking in Mexico December 28, 2010 at 9:53 pm

I know you haven’t died and gone to heaven yet, but it sure sounds like it.
I’m with you on the tortillas — one of the joys of living in Mexico is having a tortillaria just a block away. Not hand made, but steaming hot off the press while you wait.

Feliz año nuevo, Matt. I’m looking forward to a new year of new recipes.

Kathleen

Brooke@foodwoolf December 28, 2010 at 9:54 pm

Can I put you on my favorite things of 2010? I know we’ve known each other for much longer, but…I love you for taking me along with you on all of these trips–even if it was via your blog and not actually IN your suitcase.

Happy New Year, my love. Here’s to a great year. Can’t wait to see what happens next for you in 2011!

David December 29, 2010 at 4:37 am

Glad I got to share a few of those dishes with you. Looking forward to more in 2011. And 2012. And perhaps even 2013…

Katie December 29, 2010 at 6:24 am

The pretzel croissant is a thing of beauty. It’s one of the best ways to start a day in the city–for me, it’s either that or bagel from Murray’s. Thanks for sharing your food adventures. Have a splendid New Year.

Matt December 29, 2010 at 7:42 am

David, I considered just changing the post to “Eating With David”, I’m serious! You were the highlight of 2010! Here’s to next year and yes, 2012, 2013, 2014 oh god I can’t wait.

Martha December 29, 2010 at 9:40 am

I don’t know you personally, but I love you! I always look forward to reading your blog and seeing all the beautiful photos you take. You help me appreciate the smells, the feel, the sounds, the sight and last but not least the taste of all the glorious food that put on this earth for us. You always make want to go out there and EAT! I’m excited to taste what 2011 has cooking!

Jonny Rowntree December 29, 2010 at 10:51 am

Wow. What a year 2010 has been for you, Matt! Happy 40th for whenever it was and I must admit, I could eat one of those curries from Singapore and those pastries from New York.

Why isn’t good food closer to the UK nowadays? Have a great 2011 Matt and I’ll be hanging around the mouth devouring food platter blog for a little while yet!

All the best, Jonny.

Uncle Beefy December 29, 2010 at 11:50 am

Happy New Year to you and yours, Mr. Matt! :)

Leah December 29, 2010 at 3:55 pm

Very happy to read how full and fulfilling your year has been. And am very envious of that Hotel Meurice champagne and foie gras with hazelnut and cherries meal. If only for that, I’m putting Paris in my wishlist for the coming year. I love kimchi chigae too! Happy New Year to you and yours!

~Leah
(http://simplesplendidthings.wordpress.com/)

Joan Nova December 29, 2010 at 4:14 pm

Good to be you in 2010…and better yet that you know and appreciate it.

Congratulations on your much deserved successes.

Elizabeth December 29, 2010 at 4:27 pm

Most happiest of New years to you Matt (and Adam too!). Thanks for taking us along for this crazy ride. Although I wished I could have been there at almost every stop, I can at least dream of all the wonderful tastes and sights and sounds you experienced.

I can’t wait to read even more when that book hits the market place.

Slainte! (Cheers!)

Deb Pang Davis December 29, 2010 at 6:37 pm

I’m a first time visitor to your site and spotting the kimchi jigae (my favorite!) I had to comment.

Sign me up for the trip to Korea. It’s been too long since I’ve seen family. Have some ttok guk (or dduk gook) for New Year’s!

saehae bok manhi badeuseyo.
D

SMITH BITES December 29, 2010 at 7:19 pm

Matt – this is one of my favorite posts of the year; I’ve loved coming here and reading whatever it is you’re feeling at the moment but this post just hits it out of the park. Genuine, funny, heartfelt, serious and artistic – it’s all here. I have not had the pleasure of meeting you IRL but hope to someday – you and the Mr. are quite the talented pair – congrats on a wonderful year – and I for one, am looking forward to whatever adventures are in store for 2011! Happy New Year!

Amanda December 29, 2010 at 11:08 pm

Matt! I saw you in Goop the other day. Congratulations. I’m so happy for how successful you are.

You’re incredible.

Barbara December 30, 2010 at 12:16 am

Enjoyed reading your post very very much, and yes, you can do it. There is so much energy coming from you, I look forward to hearing / seeing / reading more from you and wish you and your husband a very exciting 2011! Happy New Year!

Monica December 30, 2010 at 12:52 am

I love visiting your blog. I can almost smell the food and hear the sounds in the gorgeous pictures that you take. And the writing that goes along with it makes me smile and giggle sometimes and keeps my interest till the very last word. Can’t wait to see what you have have for us in for 2011! Blessings…

dory December 30, 2010 at 8:47 am

Matt,

Thanks for sharing your experiences and insights. I stumbled upon your blog 3 months ago and have been hooked ever since. :) Reading about the food you’ve tasted and made, people you’ve met and everything else inspires me with my own blogging and it takes me to places that I have yet to visit for myself. I’m looking forward to reading more in 2011!

Happy new year!

Domestic Diva December 30, 2010 at 12:24 pm

That was a great yr,I kinda felt like i was traveling with you,thanx for traveling.

Karen December 31, 2010 at 6:22 am

Happy new year Matt, thrilled to have stumbled on your blog, thanks for being part of my year :)

Alison Camacho January 1, 2011 at 1:51 am

This is fantastic. Thanks for sharing your list of 2010′s top ten. How about also doing a top ten of your experiences focusing on the Southern California area.

Stop by Homegirl Cafe sometime and come for breakfast or lunch and to say hello.

Happy New Year!

- Alison (Laura and Mike Mische’s friend!)

Nima January 2, 2011 at 7:05 pm

The sea food mountain in Reims also comes to mind :)

Matt January 3, 2011 at 9:45 am

Oh you know I didn’t include that because I didn’t want to seem like I was bragging :)

Chili Love January 3, 2011 at 10:46 am

Matt, I’ve been following your blog for a couple of weeks now, and it’s quickly becoming my favorite. While you’re back down in Mexico this year, hunt up some flour tortillas for us, will ya? I’ve tried many, many recipes over the years, and I’ve watched carefully in local restaurants to see how they do it. I’ve never been able to reproduce an authentic flour tortilla at home. I’ve about decided there’s either some secret ingredient they’re not telling us, or some secret method they use behind closed doors. Either that, or, you just have to have some south-of-the-border blood in your veins.

Adrienne January 3, 2011 at 4:43 pm

You are a man after my own heart with the deep fried candy bars. I allow myself one per year at the MN State Fair, and OMG is it worth it… heaven on a stick!

Jess January 3, 2011 at 10:01 pm

I just stumbled onto your blog and absolutely love it! The pictures are some of the most interesting I’ve seen, and your post kept me reading. Seriously, something hard to do when I have finals that I know I should be studying for. Thanks for posting! I hope someday my blog will bloom to be as much fun to read and look at as yours!

jackhonky January 4, 2011 at 3:45 am

You, my friend, have eaten well this year. 2010 was a great year, but it seems like it was a fantastic year for you! I look forward to reading about your adventures in 2011. Have fun in Cancun with all my favorite people. I’ll shivering in the cold up here in SF.

And in case you need a traveling buddy, I’ll go with you to Korea to eat….

Cheryl Arkison January 4, 2011 at 4:23 pm

A constant source of inspiration and aspirations – from photography to attitude. Thank-you. (And maybe one day you will indeed open the bar I once dreamt about.

Dinners & Dreams January 4, 2011 at 4:42 pm

I don’t know if I can do fried candy bars but a pretzel croissant, yes please!

Wishing you a fabulous 2011!

Nisrine

Jeffrey - the therapist January 4, 2011 at 9:20 pm

I am so happy to have found your blog. I love to read about the travels and the food. Happy New Year to you and I look forward to reading more.

katie January 5, 2011 at 9:11 pm

What a lovely “year in pictures”. Thanks for taking us all on an exotic trip of flavors.

Irene January 5, 2011 at 9:58 pm

Happy New Year Matt! We’d love to have you visit us here in Seoul! Seriously. Let me know if you are interested, and I will more than happy to arrange it!

Aunt Clara January 6, 2011 at 4:14 am

Oh gosh, we both turned 40 last year. Let’s raise our glasses to 40 more years of good food, good friends and awesomely-handsome husbands. ¡A tu salud!

Chef Basket January 6, 2011 at 8:29 am

Thanks for this great 2010 post. It sounds like you had quite the year! From tortillas to pretzel croissants.

Payal January 6, 2011 at 11:49 am

Hi Matt! Happy New Year! Your blood orange caramels with toasted almonds are on my top 10 food moments of the year. Thanks for sharing wonderful thoughts and food ideas. Looking forward to seeing more of it in the coming year.

Ethenia January 7, 2011 at 12:00 am

Hey Matt,
it’s the first time for me to visit your blog. Very fresh and lively ^^
And all those food pictures are inviting. Anyway, try some Indonesian food, such as “pempek” , “sate”, or “soto”. And you’ll feel different sensation than others taste of dishes :)
Happy new year

Gaby January 7, 2011 at 9:15 am

love them all!!

Travel Food Phil January 9, 2011 at 5:30 pm

Wow Matt, what an awesome year! I only discovered your blog a coue weeks ago and can’t wait to see where you get to this year. Happy travels!

Sally Pasley January 10, 2011 at 10:17 am

Matt, You’re the best. I was so looking forward to meeting you and now I am home with enough inspiration and new ideas to play with for months and months. You are a generous and gifted teacher, and a genuine and fun (I’d like a better word, but it’s true!) guy to boot. I am so happy you had such a fantastic year and I know you will have many more. A great big thank you for sharing your talents and your magnetic personality (!)
XXOO Sally

Mike and Laura Mische January 10, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Your tongue has see a lot of places … WOW I am impressed.
You deserve all that has happened to you, and I know it was not by chance. You have worked super hard and are an inspiration to me. Your hard work, dedication and passion in ones self, honesty, humility, and giving selflessly will always will lead to happiness and success. I wish you even more of the same in 2011. And hope to give you work in 2011!!!!
A true believer Mike

foodie and the chef January 11, 2011 at 7:59 am

What a great post – congratulations on everything you’re achieving and may it continue. I’ve only recently found you and your blog, it’s great fun and I do hope that Deep Fried Mars Bars pop up in my neck of the woods in Sydney sometime soon !

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