In the wee hours of a fresh new year, it is a lovely feeling to sit down and reminisce about the one that just ended, trying to squeeze out its essence and single out a few of its most memorable moments.
Among them, and in no particular order, I would list the release of a French classic I helped edit, a Best Culinary Travel Guide award for my Paris book, a trip to San Francisco and our first-ever apartment swap, my thirtieth birthday, and a few other noteworthy things, listed below.
Favorite new kitchen pet
Last spring I started keeping a sourdough starter, which I named Philémon, and this has been the most gratifying, wonder-filled project I have ever undertaken: each starter bread I bake seems an opportunity to learn something new and improve my skills, and the results delight us every time.
Favorite new appliance
After a maddeningly frustrating few months trying to work with an oven that refused to cooperate, I finally threw in the towel and invested in a shiny new one that has (knock on wood) served me really, really well so far.
The contender in this category is the electric steamer I got for my birthday, which opened me to a whole new world of steamy dishes. In 2010, I ambition to use it for homemade dim sum.
Favorite new cookbook
This is not at all a newly published book, but I recently acquired Claudia Fleming’s dessert book The Last Course after hearing glowing reviews from several trusted sources. And indeed, it is a beautiful and inspiring book, full of seasonally-sound ideas and useful tips. (The book is out of print and its market value has shot up to absurd heights,
but it can be ordered for a more reasonable price through the North Fork Table & Inn, where Fleming works now. Update: the book is now sold out at the North Fork Table & Inn.)
A contender in this category is Nancy Silverton’s Breads from the La Brea Bakery, a book about baking with a natural starter, which is, as I think we’ve established, my current passion.