Taking stock

I'm trying not to swear in this newsletter. I said trying.

This is a weird year to run any sort of Top 10 list. Really, “top 10 foods I ate out of my trunk” is what I’d call finding the silver lining. Top 10 parking lots your kids rode their bikes in. Top 10 tips for incorporating your tears into banana bread batter. Top 10 cocktails to drink out of a mug while on a Zoom meeting. Top 10 reasons to break all your dishes rather than clean them again.

But it’s the end of the year and that means briefly looking back…and then not letting the door hit 2020 on the way out. So let’s revisit 10 top To Taste moments of the year, as there were some surprisingly fun ones, and I’ll move on with a fresh link pack. Then, and perhaps most importantly, a final cooking party of the year. (Wow, even typing that gave me a little thrill.)

What was the best thing you made in quarantine this year? Worst thing? Funniest thing? (Hint: Those last two are the same.) What was your biggest kitchen achievement in 2020? How many cocktails did you consume this year? I’m not a doctor, don’t lie.

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To Taste’s 10 Best Moments of 2020

  1. Some of our collective favorite To Taste newsletters this year: Grandma’s Bolognese ragú (with her secret ingredient); Galette it, Girl; To Market; and the most popular of all… Magic Tomato Sauce.

  2. We relaunched our Shop, which is really full of fun and high quality stuff for our kitchens and bars and tables. All of it (and I mean ALL) is chosen by yours truly.

  3. In social media news, our friend Chrissy Teigen reposted an Instagram Story of my tuna sandwich and it was MAJOR. Honestly never knew a tuna sandwich could make such an impact, but here we are.

  4. While we’re talking Instagram, I also jumped on the Lives bandwagon this year and have…gulp…really enjoyed doing them! Cooking and cocktail-ing on video is super fun, who knew? More to come.

  5. If you missed it, Silk + Sonder asked me some questions and I answered honestly, which means I confessed to a neurotic upkeep of my inbox and to my lack of a lukewarm lemon water routine each morning.

  6. Also, VoyageLA called me inspiring (!) and asked me questions about how To Taste came to be, so I told them that it was very easy and there have been no hiccups whatsoever. Inspiring.

  7. We partnered with sommelier Rosemary Walker on the most fantastic (and educational!) summer of Zoom wine tastings, paired with To Taste recipes. My favorite was: a bottle of G.D. Vajra ‘Rosabella’, Rosé, Piemonte, Italy 2019 and a bottle of Francesco Cirelli, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Italy 2018, paired with pasta with smashed cherry tomatoes and rosemary rubbed steak with salsa verde. Copy / paste for yourselves.

  8. I made a lot of cooking playlists, because we needed them. That’s not sarcasm. We needed music to help us enjoy ourselves in the kitchen even though we’d been in and out of there since breakfast (in March).

  9. We also took a stab at Pinterest this year, and turns out you guys really like it! We’re stunned that delicious-looking food has been popular on a photo-sharing app. (That is sarcasm.) More to come!

  10. Lastly, To Taste would be absolutely nothing without my friends who’ve supported me from the first. So I’d like to dedicate #10 to their accomplishments. Top of mind are my close friends Yasmin Fahr and Ali Rosen have both achieved so much this year it’s made me tear up. Yasmin’s gorgeous sheet pan baked feta was one of NYT Cooking’s most popular recipes of the year and Ali was nominated for a James Beard Award (again) and is hard at work on her second cookbook. I am lucky enough to have many friends who’ve achieved many things this year and I hope they all already know how proud I am of them. (Hint: SUPER PROUD.)

  11. Bonus: My son and I made a handful of ‘feasts from around the world’ and watching his tiny hands help me layer figs onto galette dough and help tear basil leaves from their stems, and then watching him enjoy the fruits of our labors will always, always be a personal highlight for me. His favorite? The lobster we made when it was Australia week. (“When can we have more of those lobsters, mama?”)

Hot ‘n Fresh Reading Material!

If you only have time to read one thing, make it this. Please let's reframe how we talk about eating and indulging and “being fat”. PLEASE. (Heated)

Shop for the summer you want? (Claire V) 

Dating in the pandemic, hahahaaaa… (New Yorker) 

If you haven't yet seen this epic Carpool Karaoke, stop what you're doing (Youtube) 

In fact, while we're on Youtube, I rewatched this early pandemic video a few days ago and it felt right to bring it back (Youtube)

My round-up of the best round-ups... WIRED, Esquire, Vulture, and Lithub’s best books of 2020.

Baking with children or crime scene? (McSweeney’s)

I'm not sure these menus are unconventional, as much as this year has been, but in any case some really delicious holiday menu ideas in here (goop)

Don’t be the only person at the table who hasn’t read about the journalist and the pharma bro. Holy shit. (Elle)

A Cooking Party to Say ‘GTFO, 2020!’

How does one cook while their middle fingers are high in the air?

Playlist Cooking Vol. 6 for reggae and remix vibes, like Burna Boy and Marc Ronson and TLC and The Staple Singers, it’s a real groove over here.

Pre-Dinner Drink A Penicillin, aka medicine while we await those vaccines

Menu Moroccan squash soup, perfectly spiced and warming with a bright orange hue and crispy chickpeas on top. A showstopper: braised lamb shank with coriander and peas which will seriously blow you away. And garlicky fingerling potatoes for a perfect side dish, if you want one.

Dessert Flan with poached cherries to lighten and brighten up the whole affair, cut through the richness of the dinner. It looks beautiful, too.

Wine Red blend from the Rhone Valley, Sangiovese, Chianti, or Nebbiolo

Bonus Why not take a moment and write a personal top 10 list like the To Taste one I did above? Really look back at the year, dig through emails or texts or Slacks or Instagrams, whatever will help you remember. And find 10 great things. You will. And it will feel good to know that in such a hard year omfg, there were a minimum of 10 bright moments.

Signing off until the new year with love and a big ass CHEERS!