So it happened. It came and went. I’m finally 30 and, aside from a little sag or wrinkle here or there, I’m pretty much the same. Since my 30 by 30 post in September (well, it was really a 13 by 30 because I never came up with 30 things to do,) I’ve accomplished some of the things that I set out to accomplish before my 30th birthday, while others are still waiting to be conquered. Let’s visit my list, shall we…
1. Make pie dough. Ah, the elusive dough. This one hasn’t happened yet. It probably doesn’t help that I was sick during the holidays and my in-laws moved so I didn’t get a lesson from the best–my father-in-law makes AMAZING pie with his homemade pie dough.
2. Bake bread. Ouch, I’m 0 for 2 so far. The good news is that I recently (yesterday) commandeered a breadmaker that I found at work. This is very strange but making bread is on the short, short list.
3. Cook 7 Fishes dinner for Christmas Eve. Jeez, I’m feeling pretty unaccomplished thus far. I actually wrote this goal knowing that I would not complete it. I will cook 7 Fishes one year but I’m guessing that it won’t be for a while.
4. Catch and cook a fish or crab. Nope, didn’t do this one either! I do have grand plans to do some serious crabbing in Maryland this summer at my friend, Wayles’, childhood home.
5. Make gnocchi. I did it!!! My gnocchi post is actually in my draft folder as I type. I loved making the gnocchi but eating it was even better. There’s something special about putting a completed dish on the table that started with simply potatoes, eggs and flour.
6. Make something-cello. I did this too! Things are starting to look better! I took advantage of the abundance of citrus during the colder months and made some tasty key lime and blood orange cellos. We’ve been enjoying them ever since!
7. Have Dim Sum with a Chinese person. Thanks to my good friend Teresa, this was actually the first item I crossed off my list. Now that I think about it, I’m getting a hankering for more turnip cakes!
8. Make as many types of dumplings as possible. Well, I kind of did this one. I made some dumplings here and there. You’ll see my ravioli in this post and I’ve played with gnocchi. I’m still a little scared of dough so I’ll have to forge ahead bravely.
9. Learn how to can. Well dammit. In my defense, canning isn’t a prevalent activity in the winter months and I did make this list in September. OK, stop the excuses. I need to hit up Food in Jars for a canning class ASAP.
10. Take a cake decorating class and make a cake look pretty. OK, now I just feel inadequate. I thought I had a pretty decent year of cooking and eating. I actually haven’t been able to commit to a Fante’s class but I have found someone who is willing to come to my friend’s house and teach a private class. We’re looking to put it on the schedule sometime after school lets out in late June or July. I did, however, take a chocolate class with some co-workers so maybe that kinda counts?
11. Recreate my great-aunt’s apple cake. I actually did this one. Unfortunately, my phone took a bath last week and I lost all of my pictures. Suffice it to say the cake was phenomenal, although it could never hold a candle to Aunt Bette’s. I used this recipe minus the wheat germ.
12. Eat at Talula’s Table. Check! This was a night I’ll never forget for a variety of reasons.
13. Have the grand tasting with wine pairing at Vetri. Done and done. This was actually my 30th birthday wish and we visited the restaurant on my birthday. I chose to remove my food blogger’s hat and enjoy the meal like a completely normal person (who just happens to be obsessed with food.) From the complimentary glass of prosecco to the petit fours and conversation with the sommelier, the night was absolutely perfect. I cannot think of anywhere else that I would have rather spent my 30th birthday (well, ok, you could twist my arm with Tuscany.)
In retrospect, it’s been a pretty unforgettable year, food-wise. I celebrated my 29th birthday at Supper restaurant last May. I started the blog in August and have since had many unique and special culinary experiences. We bought lobster fresh off the dock in New England (and then took a tour of Maine’s lobster rolls😉 we brought our dog, Jewels, to brunch at Supper; I spent Christmas Eve morning at Termini’s with a couple hundred of my closest friends; we hosted a Soup Swap; we enjoyed Meme’s fried chicken lunch; we partook in the Han Dynasty 20-course Szechuan tasting; I successfully made chocolate (and went to a chocolate making class recently as well;) we visited Adsum for brunch and two dinners, meeting Top Chef Kevin Sbraga there most recently; we ate grilled paella; I met lots of new bloggers at a Philly Food Bloggers Meet-Up, some of whom have become friends; I attending the Philly Wine Fest; we brunched a lot (a whole, whole lot) and enjoyed many a sandwich from the Sausage Truck. We ate lots of Vietnamese food and we cooked, ate, baked and cooked some more. And, of course, we had two meals of a lifetime at Vetri and Talula’s Table. We’ve eaten well this year.
Although it was a difficult year personally–sadness abounded–I found my solace in cooking, eating and joining friends and family at the table. (Cue the violin.) When I was sick during the holidays, I requested borscht from Hymie’s, when my dear friend’s step-father passed away, my way of helping was deciding what food would be served. And bringing her a bottle of gin, of course. The same friend celebrated a monumental birthday–more special and important than any birthday I will ever have–in August and again I helped with the menu (and cooked the potstickers during the celebration.) My oldest friend’s father is diminishing and my way of supporting her and helping him was to cook sausage and peppers for the man who always enjoyed good food. Two of the happiest moments I had this year were recent–and were at restaurant tables. Food and cooking have given me the ability to forget all else. I can’t even attempt to put words to the past year. It’s a time in my life that I hope to forget for so many reasons. As I forge ahead into my 30s, I am confident that I will be able to put this time behind me.
Through all this, my husband has been my sole rock. He’s cooked dinner for me when I just can’t bear to move and he never complains when I want to order out, regardless of how full our fridge is. Who cares if my eyes are bigger than my stomach and I order three appetizers and two entrees for the two of us. He sure doesn’t. He has been by my side, always providing a positive word and a tasty bite. Who ever would have known that the cute guy I met when I was 21 (21?!) would become the most important person in my life and my biggest cheerleader. One of the things that I love most about him is his willingness to try anything. When we met, Zach’s skills in the kitchen were limited. He had a small repertoire, much of which involved a can opener. In the 8+ years that we have been together, he’s transformed from the nervous, recipe-checking, question-asking novice to someone who is confident and sure of himself in the kitchen. While I tend to think of the kitchen as my domain, I often check myself (ok, fine, he usually checks me) when I try to give him guidance or advice. To know that I have had that impact on his life, to know that I have helped him become someone for whom eating is so much more than subsistence speaks to the power of our relationship.
When we were at Vetri, the night of my birthday, I mused aloud that I was lucky. My husband wasn’t just doing me a favor by taking me to a fancy restaurant for my birthday. We were partaking in this gastronomic experience together and equally relishing it. When we’re old and storied, we’ll be able to tell our grandchildren about our myriad amazing meals and food experiences–from the fresh-caught spiny lobster dinner on the beach in Costa Rica to the Parmiggiano factory in Emilia Romagna to our honeymoon lunch at Chez Panisse. These are our memories. My father always jokes that my mother can’t remember where she left her glasses but she can describe in detail a meal she had years ago. I feel connected to her in that way. And while I hope that the upcoming year and years are better than the past, I know we have lots of good eating to look forward to.