Well folks, it’s coming: the end, whether you’re talking about the doom predicted Friday or the end of the year. New Years is a time for introspection and reflection, where you look at what you’ve accomplished this year and what you’d like to accomplish in the coming year, often with resolutions. It’s these next two weeks where we consider how far we were from working out three times a week like we promised ourselves we would on January 1st, 2012, and decide, “Maybe in 2013 I’ll just aim to have a smoothie every now and then..”
The way we frame a passing year isn’t just in what we did or did not achieve that we had set out to, but we also think about all the big events that occurred, intentionally or not — like, say, moving to New York (whee!). However we choose to measure a year outside the obvious passage of time, whatever units we choose, are based on our own values. In that light, I’ve decided that the only appropriate way for me to conclude 2012 is to embrace my gluttony and present my 12 best food memories of this year that is so close to closing, unlike the top button of my pants.
12 food moments that made 2012 excellent
Tangerines: I have to start with this. This year I discovered the joys of tangerines which has sparked a slang term, “Tangerine moment,” that is used to describe something mundane that is somehow so wonderful you can’t keep it to yourself.
Five Guys: One of the first things I did this year was visit my now-ex in Minnesota and discover the gem that is Five Guys, perhaps one of the only burger chains I actually eat at and recommend. Affordable, quick, and super tasty, the only problem with this restaurant is that, based on the fact a “small fry” is about half a bag full of the greasy potatoes, I can only guess they’ve invested heavily in a pharmaceutical company that produces blood pressure lowering medicine.
Matzo Ball Soup and Brisket: This year, not only did I discover I may have a tiny bit of Jewish blood running through me, but I also was privileged enough to be invited by my boss to Seder, or Jewish Passover, in Spring. As my boss described it, all Jewish holidays are centered around drinking a good deal of wine to celebrate that they’re still alive after all these millennia, and Seder was no exception. Because of this, I can’t remember much, but I do remember there being seven dishes that had various symbolic foods on them, the grossness that was gefilte fish, and the beauties that were slow roasted brisket and matzo ball soup. I must say, one of the best things about moving to New York is having relatively easy access to good matzo ball soup.
Korean Excellence: Unfortunately, I can’t remember the name of this Korean restaurant I discovered just last week as it was in Korea Town, and it turns out searching “Korean restaurant korea town” is not a very fruitful endeavor. However, what I can tell you is that the food was delicious, with these excellent scallion pancakes I could eat for every meal, and, as odd as it sounds, reminded me of Seder thanks to the placement of seven dishes in the center of the table filled with a variety of goodies. Octopus salad, anyone?
Jing Fong: Jing Fong is a restaurant in Chinatown that is famous for being huge — think the size of a school auditorium, if not bigger — and serving what could be the best dim sum in New York. It was also my first time having dim sum. Needless to say, I was in heaven. However, I will continue to speak; dim sum was AMAZING. One of the best food experiences of my life. Whether it be the perfectly steamed, gooey pork buns, the steamed or fried dumplings, all filled with delicious meats and veggies, or the taro root cakes, dim sum was an experience to remember. An experience I long to repeat. Anyone want to go get dim sum?
Bohemian Beer Garden: I almost didn’t put this because of some recent drama, but the first night I was in New York in 2012 my friend took me to this beer garden in Astoria, Queens, and it was fantastic, with affordable pitchers of beer and plenty of room to meet however many friends you could want to see. More than that, though, after our first pitcher, I tried the beef stroganoff and it was simply delectable. Hearty yet with some nice herbs and spices to elevate it a bit, and with perfectly cooked egg noodles and beef, it was definitely a dish to remember. However, the reason I almost stomped out the last time I went there is due to the fact they no longer serve it. Drama~aaa!
Opa: Opa is a restaurant name that just makes you shout in glee when you say it. “Opa!” And the delicious food doesn’t hurt. Opa is the kind of place everyone hopes to discover, being cheap and amazing. I sincerely have never had better gyros, even when they were twice the price.
Porchetta: So, bacon. Let’s talk bacon. Do you know what bacon is? Pork belly. Porchetta is an homage to bacon, and it makes me die from pure joy, as it’s pork belly wrapped around pork loin, then smoked for hours and served, moist and juicy. Thank you, Italians, for creating a food that’s so tasty that I don’t even care it’s killing me.
Fresh Pumpkin Pie: Before I moved this year I had a fall harvest themed dinner party with my friends, where we mostly used ingredients from the gardens of my friend and myself. While the dinner itself was only moderately good, the pumpkin pie that I made, using a hybrid of two recipes, was one of the best foods I’ve ever made, and definitely the best pie I’ve ever had — though you’d hope so, as it required two small fresh pumpkins and four hours of labor. Me and the four friends there ended up devouring it within less than 10 minutes.
The Way Station: The Way Station is a bar located near the Brooklyn Museum of Art that I ended up discovering thanks to the first friend I made in New York when I mentioned I loved Doctor Who to him. Why are those things related? Because the bathroom is painted like the TARDIS! Mix this with other nerdy paraphernalia, like a sonic screwdriver and a cocktail menu inspired by companions and authors like Margaret Atwood, and a great beer selection, and you get one of those experiences where what you’re ingesting is elevated to highly memorable proportions thanks to the pure awesomeness around you.
Big Gay Ice Cream Shop: The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop is fun for the whole family, not just those of the homosexual persuasion! Though being gay certainly doesn’t help, as the first thing you’re greeted with is a mural of a giant unicorn on the wall. The ice cream itself is soft serve and delectable, and the it’s gussied up in all sorts of fun and imaginative ways, like the signature cone, “The Salty Pimp,” which is vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce, dipped in chocolate, and then sprinkled with salt. It’s impossible to go and not leave feeling gay in every way.
Finally.. Chobani: And coconut water.
(Om nom is an onomatopoeic term for the noise made while eating, if that wasn’t clear.)
Ah yes, from the mundane to the unusual, the boozy to the food kids shriek about wanting to eat, 2012 was certainly a mixed bag when it came to events, both personally and communally, but a delight when it came to eating. Here’s hoping 2013 can be as succulent!