Looking back on a good year in food and writing

Octopus tempura at Rebelot del Pont, Milan
Octopus tempura at Rebelot del Pont, Milan

So, there’s a lot of year-in-review going on. Maybe you’re getting sick of it all, but I think it’s really nice to see how people reflect on the past twelve months, and it’s also a way to let it all slip into the past with appreciation, as we gear up for the year to come.

Food Republic asked me to share a few of my favorite travel experiences from the year. Below are a few of those highlights. But also, I’ve been doing some personal writing, something I hope to make more of a focus in the next year. On Medium, I wrote about cleaning out my high school bedroom, and the memories I’ll hold onto as well as the things I let go.

Along with these travel highlights, I have to mention my week-long trip in Hungary, where I luxuriated at Budapest’s bath houses, ate way too much foie gras, and learned about how Communism impacted one of the world’s oldest wine appellations, Tokaj

From my Food Republic round-up:

Berlin
Berlin’s craft food and drink scene is exploding, and the best way to explore it is the weekly Thursday night artisanal food market called Markthalle Neun, which started up in 2013 in the central neighborhood of Kreuzberg. It’s free to walk in, and the items are priced well, so you can try a bunch of things. There are updated version of German classics like bratwurst, as well as ethnic foods like Indian and Turkish, and various bars serving German and European wines and beers. It’s a vibrant, young scene and a great snapshot of the city’s culture.

Milan
With the food-focused World Expo taking place in Milan this year, the city attracted a lot of visitors and attention. At the actual Expo, the crowds made it difficult to fully appreciate all the pavilions, but in the city of Milan, I saw a fantastic exhibit called “Arts & Foods” at the design museum, the Triennale di Milano. This special exhibition examined rituals around art and food over the last 150 years, with works by famous artists ranging from Andy Warhol to Claes Oldenberg. I also had a brilliant multicourse meal at Rebelot del Pont, a newish restaurant located in the chic Navigli neighborhood along the city’s waterfront. Chef Matteo Monti delivered perfectly executed, wildly creative French- and Italian-inspired dishes, such as a dessert that involved a panna cotta with black olives, cocoa nibs and olive oil. We also drank delicious and elegant wines, like an orange Ribolla Gialla, and finished the meal with all sorts of Italian cheeses.

Sicily
Eating is always an amazing experience on the island of Sicily, where produce grows year-round and there is fresh seafood everywhere (as well as amazing wines). I had the best pasta dish of my life at the two-Michelin-star restaurant Locanda Don Serafino, in Ragusa. Actually, it was my fellow diner’s pasta dish, but when he saw my ecstatic face after taking one bite of that squid ink linguini garnished with fresh bits of uni, he let me devour the whole plate, and I did not apologize. The restaurant and accompanying boutique hotel are in a historic 19th-century mansion – it’s actually a UNESCO World Heritage site. Dining at Locanda Don Serafino is a must if you’re in Sicily. And Sicily is a great place to satisfy your sweet tooth; in the historic city of Noto, I tried an incredible spread of pastries at the renowned Café Sicilia, of course with perfectly made espresso.


 

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