Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Obligatory Best-of-2010 Post

Following in the footsteps of last week's obligatory resolutions post, here are some lists of my favorite/best/weirdest/etc. 2010 food things. (By the way, do you have plans for NYE yet? Here's one more plug for what's sure to be a ridiculously awesome live music experience.) 

My favorite restaurant discoveries in 2010:
  • Highland Kitchen (blog posts here and here): A fairly easy walk from my apartment, Highland Kitchen is my new favorite neighborhood spot. Everything I've eaten here has been good to great, the cocktails are interesting and strong, and the ambiance is fun and lively. I've still gotta make it to a Tuesday night Spelling Bee.
  • Trina's Starlite Lounge: Hot dogs hot dogs hot dogs. Trina's feels like the same genre as Highland Kitchen to me; I guess they both fit into the fast emerging gastro-pub scene, or at least the outskirts of it. In any case, I love them both.
  • KO Catering and Pies (blog post here): The first legit Australian place in Boston (that I know of). (Outback Steakhouse doesn't count. At all.) Meat pies and sausage rolls will make winter bearable.
  • Marliave: I can't remember when I first went here - might have been last year, actually - but I'll include it anyway. A lot of people find the ambiance a bit run-down, but hey, it's historical. The upstairs dining room is lovely when the candles are lit. This is one of my favorite French onion soups I've ever had, and the cocktails are amazing. Happy Hour oyster specials on the patio make for a heavenly summer night.
  • Ronnarong (blog post here): This discovery also might be more than a year old; I just can't remember. Great sake-based cocktails, wonderful Thai small plates. Absolutely try the Paradise Beef.
  • Rangzen (blog post here): A Tibetan gem tucked away on a Central Square side street.
  • Baraka Cafe (blog post here): Another Central Square gem, hidden even further from the main drag, Baraka Cafe offers delicious North African food in a somewhat-tacky-yet-beautiful ambiance, served up with a bit of attitude that'll make you cringe or smile depending on your temperament.
  • Newtowne Grille: A great neighborhood dive-y place in Porter Square for super cheap pizza, apps, and beer. And the pizza is GREAT. My pizza snob boyfriend agrees and considers it one of the best in Boston.

My favorite food shop discoveries in 2010:
  • The Chocolate Tarte (blog post here): The ultimate winner of my Cupcake Quest, The Chocolate Tarte is (un?)fortunately walking distance from my apartment. Not only are the cupcakes the best in the world - everything else is also delicious. I can't stop raving about this place to everyone.
  • Russo's: This somewhat satisfies the hole in my heart that Wegmans filled when I lived in Rochester, and it also satisfies any need I may have to find any exotic fruit or vegetable in the entire world. Russo's is a mad house at peak hours - be prepared to shove and be shoved by shopping carts and hungry shoppers - and there aren't really local or organic options - but wow, the produce is cheap and exotic. Whenever I go here, I leave with vegetables I've never heard of. Love it.
  • Savenor's (blog post here): Lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my! Well, I haven't seen tiger there, but I'm pretty sure I've seen bear, and they had lion at $40/lb a couple weeks ago. The famous Savenor's (a favorite of Julia Child) is the best source for exotic meats for miles around. Yep, it's expensive, but for a once-in-awhile treat, the quality and selection are spectacular.

My favorite food truck discoveries of 2010:
  • Fillbelly's (blog post here): I've sadly only found the truck once, but I've been searching for it ever since. I want another bosilito (empanada) so, so badly.
  • Clover (blog post here): A food truck that destroys the notion that food trucks are greasy and unhealthy. Pretty neat.

Blog posts I had the most fun writing in 2010:

Things I've spent way too much time on in please check them out so I feel validated:
  • The Economics of Local Food: This is the capstone project for my master's degree. It consumed my life for many months, so I hope you'll find it interesting and educational. While I would have liked to submit it somewhere for publication, stories about local food are getting a bit overdone, so I never bothered. Instead, I posted it here on a whim a few weeks ago because it seemed like a waste not to share it.
  • This is a recent project and a major work-in-progress, but I'm hoping that it'll become a useful resource for food bloggers throughout Massachusetts. Many of you have already checked it out and responded enthusiastically, so thank you all very much for the support and kind words! Many new features will be rolling out as time goes on, but the fact remains that I have a time-and-brain-consuming day job as well as a "secret life" as a musician and photographer, so sometimes the food stuff falls behind. The launch party will be held on January 17th; I'm excited!

Weirdest search phrases that sent people to my blog in 2010 (via Google Analytics):
  • "mixing pepto bismol and baking soda"
  • "a nice mohito to oblivion." 
  • "abstract of ham fork"
  • "cake surrounded by cupcake"
  • "creamsicle wimp"
  • "frusting in love distance"
  • "kelly brook breast size"
  • "my thighs boston" 
  • "one day unhappy in hell you can cry like a baby"
  • "over in boston they have no more to write about, it's more like a sing a long"
  • "psycho knives"
  • "through the eyes of the smoke monster"
  • "what is a hairkee"

My favorite bits of Internet fame:
  • I snapped a cell phone pic of one of the Public Garden Make Way For Ducklings statues, which had been vandalized one morning. I tweeted the picture with a note about how "some jerk had graffiti-ed the ducks, and it was retweeted - I think by Universal Hub, initially - and soon the story (and my ugly cell phone pic) was all over the local news. I blogged about it here in an essay about the gray areas between citizen journalism, traditional journalism, and blogging.
  • I was surprised and honored to find my blog among five mentioned in this Boston Globe article criticizing review sites like Yelp but calling attention to "talented civilian reviewers who outgrow review sites."  

Ok, I think that's enough for now. Have a safe and happy New Year's Eve - whether debaucherous, extravagant, relaxing, or otherwise - and I'll be a couple days. Not gonna make the cliched joke.

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