A Culinary Adventure, From Gardens and Markets to Restaurants and Home Kitchens
Dec 31, 2012
03:17 PM
Local Flavor

Foodie Hits and Misses of 2012

Foodie Hits and Misses of 2012

2012, like all years, had its up and downs, likes and dislikes. My husband and I both started pursuing our creative passions more seriously, hoping that they could become more careers than hobbies. We have both made strides, but have a long way to go. Our daughter started kindergarten, and our son is excelling in his last year of elementary school. They are awesome and annoying all at the same time. I love the young people that they are becoming, but miss the days before they had such strong opinions (that differ so much from mine). My husband and I stood our ground (mostly) when dishing consequences, but just this Christmas caved to our kids’ longtime wishes—a cat and a video game system.

In the culinary world, I also developed some likes and dislikes during 2012. Here goes ...

FOOD

Elated:

Aioli I know it’s only glorified mayo, but I love it. My faves are found on 4 & 20’s famous Cuban, the Brocach Monroe Burger’s strong garlic aioli , and the Alchemy's green peppercorn aioli on their Bison Burger

Flowers for garnish Flowers are perfect for every occasion, and add an easy splash of color—and fun conversation topic—to meals. Try nasturtiums for a peppery kick in salads, or violets for a neutral but beautiful pop of color on desserts.

Overrated:

Cake disguised as muffins If your muffin is sweet and moist, mostly chocolate, and filled or topped with anything creamy, it’s cake. Why not just eat a really good slice of cake?

Pig parts I’m all for the whole-hog movement, but I think there must be other animals whose nose and tail we can appreciate. I think fish cheeks and sheep liver are pretty tasty!

GEAR

Elated:

There are many, oh so many, but I am sticking with the top two.

Immersion blender Why did I spend so many years burning my hands as my blender lid popped off, then cleaning up the mess caused by pouring batches of pureed soup from blender to bowl? No idea.

Griddle My stovetop griddle is by far my favorite recent purchase. I can now make quesadillas and pancakes for my whole family at once. And it doubles as counter space when cool.

Overrated:

Tongs I know, I know, every great chef uses tongs. All the time. I prefer chopsticks. Why? They double as chopsticks.

Fish grill basket Two words. Flaky fish. Two more words. Large holes.

TRENDS

Elated:

Heritage meats The definition varies but generally refers to breeds of animals developed before the mid 1900s and that are bred to live healthy, long outdoor lives and mate naturally. Or as my grandma would call it, “meat.”

Local foods We Madisonians are so lucky. Nothing beats going to the farmers’ market and buying products directly from the farmer.

Old Fashioneds I’m late on this trend, by many years, but it’s my new personal favorite trend. The addition of local liquors and bitters make it even better. Why did it take me so long?

Overrated:

“Deconstructed” food When I go out to eat, I like my food already put together into delicious and edible bites, thank you.

The (overuse of) buzzwords “local and sustainable” These words make any endeavor sound virtuous, but are they? Ask questions to be sure!

Happy New Year to all of you. I’m looking forward to facing the ups and downs with more grace, and continuing to grow (up not out). Wishing you all a positive 2013, full of many delicious meals, great friends, love and good health. Peace out.

 

About This Blog

Writing has always provided an anchor for my passions, which focus deeply on food, dance, environmental conservation and culture. I grew up “helping” my dad cultivate a prolific garden that produced too many radishes and watching my mom make almost all of our food from scratch, including horehound candy. Meanwhile I took my first African dance class in high school, which ignited my continuing quest to travel to West Africa, via Europe and South America, to study dance.

Through my travels, I learned that we are all connected by food, and our basic need to eat. Since moving to Madison in 1998 to pursue degrees in conservation biology and dance, I have developed an appreciation for the richness of our local food community, and a great desire to share it with others. What started as a personal food blog, A World of Flavors, has since grown into a business teaching cooking classes and leading local and international food tours.

I look forward to sharing culinary adventures with you through my Madison Magazine blog Local Flavor and monthly Dining In recipe column.

  – Otehlia Cassidy
Follow Otehlia on Twitter @madisoneats

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