Happy New Year, everyone! I hope everyone was able to enjoy some downtime over the last few weeks as we made the transition from fall to winter with all of the various holidays celebrated during that time. Our Christmas was typically busy, and our New Year’s was considerably more relaxed by comparison. Michael told me a few months ago over beers and nachos at Max’s that he wasn’t in the mood to throw a large party this year, so we kept the guest list small—mainly just entertaining my best friend, her husband, and a few neighbors—and pared down the menu accordingly. Fortunately, that allowed us to splurge on some more indulgent ingredients. It ended up being just what we both needed; not only had the last few weeks been a bit hectic between work and family travel, but right before New Year’s (as in literally the Sunday before) we were temporarily felled by a nasty bout of food poisoning. I have no idea what did it, but M was affected more than me, and I managed to be able to get the large majority of the food prep done that afternoon while Michael handled the final cleaning Monday morning while I worked in the morning.
Thinking back on last year, it was definitely a mixed bag of highs and lows—the positive moments were absolutely awesome, while I seemed to feel the struggles more deeply. Two of the biggest highlights were naturally our trips to New Orleans and Barcelona/San Sebastian, and I’m going to carry those experiences into this year since I’m guessing that it’s probably not feasible to make it back to all of those places this year again. The latter trip gave me so much inspiration as my cookbook collection has expanded to include several cookbooks featured on Basque cuisine, and I’ve already dived into them all to try to recapture some of the magic we felt that weekend by the Bay of Biscay. If we’re really lucky there may be a return trip to NOLA this year, and I want to do better by writing about more of the amazing experiences we had there back in June.
As for our cooking exploits, I was totally OK with embracing fresh pasta and making that 90% of the pasta I ate at home, and I have the drawer full of pasta-specific tools to prove it. I want to make this coming year the one where I really become comfortable with them—specifically, I want to master the chitarra I received for my birthday—and so I’m not allowing any new purchases or acquisitions on that front. We even have a brand-new pasta machine to try out, and I’m champing at the bit to start rolling out some dough in the next few weekends. I also want to start actually writing about all of this fresh pasta-making, because it’s fun and interesting and I’ve learned so much along the way about perfecting my well method amongst other things.
And with this year? My cooking goals include getting really comfortable with Basque food, in addition to being a master pasta and pizza maker because fuck, times are troubled and both of those foods taste good. To balance that all out, I’ve added some cookbooks that would allow for more meat/veg meals, or even meals that encourage all-vegetarian meals some nights. (We had our first of those meals recently, and it went very well!) I want to try to balance those meals that focus on protein and vegetables with the less-often-but-awesome pasta or pizza meal, and on my list is making Alton Brown’s newly-revised take on cacio e pepe, in addition to all of the pizzas in Mastering Pizza that I have yet to make.
Regarding this space, I want to write more (I always do) and while I know I’ve been inundating the few of you who read here regularly with lots of Spain-related posts, I will be honest and say that’s probably not going to stop. I have so many food experiences that I still want to write about, but I also owe you all a bunch of awesome pasta posts based on photos I took last year but never wrote about and now I’m saving them for the time when making food at night sucks because there’s no natural light. Ideally, I can try out new recipes now and make them again in that time when Daylight Savings comes back and it gets too hot to put the oven on to photograph them properly and iron out all of the kinks! (Positivity!)
So far, we’ve made some solid food this year; I’m excited to share more very soon.