2011: the best of a lesser year

As my friend Fil put it yesterday, 2011 had such great heights. And all of the valleys that accompany the peaks. These were my favorite moments of the year, in chronological order:

The year started beautifully in Miami, on hammocks.

February brought a circle of friends to begin the New Year of the Rabbit with Chinese tea eggs, boiled soft, then steeped in tea to reveal, upon cracking, marbleized interiors.

tea eggs

Just after my March birthday, K and I flew from chilly New York to Barcelona,

first meal in Barcelona, a little place near La Boqueria

the city of Gaudi architecture, and this strange and wonderful cathedral, eternally being built.

Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Famila

My year was to look like this roof on the Santa Caterina Market,

Santa Caterina Market (and the wavy roof)

but I didn’t know that yet.

me in Barcelona

We were then to Cannes, with its crêpes and cider, and my first time with Margalet cheese from the Ceneri cheese shop,

in Cannes

and to the famed La Colombe D’Or.

the village around La Colombe D'Or

In the late spring, I joined the designer coworking space Studiomates and dressed all in purple for our Rainbow Parade.Image by Erin Sparling.

http://erinsparling.com/

May was also my first crawfish boil, part of a road trip that included an amazing family in Madison, Mississippi, who boiled 335 pounds of crawfish.

crawfish

I was overwhelmed with the abundance of food and the hospitality. To eat a crawfish correctly, you pinch the head and then, well, they chalked instructions for those of us shyer in handling crustaceans.

chalk instructions next to one of the dogs

The weekend helped me remember my steel magnolia roots as I headed back to Atlanta to visit my mother.

magnolia

June was my sister Kassandra’s wedding,

Mom pinning the veil in

and this image taken by my sister Kat sums up my role as co-Maid of Honor, chasing down rogue antebellum sunshades in front of a historic plantation. I wrote a Fast Company piece about our use of tech during the wedding week.

this is my favorite wedding image of me (I'm chasing down skittering antebellum umbrellas)

But then, all the bridesmaids took our role seriously.


Image by Courtney Rosen.

Late June, K and I traveled to Amsterdam and spent time with wonderful friends Matt and Maia, piloting their boat through afternoon thunderstorms to discover bitterballen,

bitterballen in Amsterdam (these are served with mustard)

seeking out herring in season (Hollandse Nieuwe) at special stands, and spending time in our friend Gary’s magnificent kitchen.

herring in Amsterdam (Hollandse Nieuwe)

We took a day trip to Cologne, with its cathedral and love locks.

Cologne (koln) Cathedral

locks on the gate behind the cathedral in Cologne, Germany

From there: London in early July, with so many friends we forgot to take pictures. I remembered to bring the camera for a weekend in a 13th Century country house my dear friend Will engaged for a long weekend.

Gurney Manor

Shockingly, we spent the time eating the region’s renowned clotted cream,

it's very much about the clotted cream

preparing elaborate meals we took to eating outside,

we begin

and touring walled gardens.

walled gardens of Cannington in Bridgwater

walled gardens of Cannington

I told an Ignite NYC audience why quitting a Ph.D. is the best possible option for some:

In early August, friends from graduate school Andrew and Annie announced they would be married in a week, and I filled the gas tank to drive to Chapel Hill, North Carolina and record the celebration. You see how they do things their own way, with great success. The bride wore blue.

DSC_1609

doubleAwedding9

And continuing my drive back up the coast, my friend Keryn let me pretend I lived in Maine for a week or so, opening her house and barn, as she always does. There were ferries and sunflowers and islands to see before returning to New York to teach my graduate class at ITP.

maine1

DSC_1785

maine6

The fall brought considerable moments of quiet, struggles for professional growth as my consulting expanded, and the launch of my food magazine, Saucy.

In November, my sister Kat and I arrived in a former convent in Oaxaca, timing our trip to catch the end of the Day of the Dead celebrations, marvel at the Placido Domingo, puzzle over hand-drawn maps while bartenders poured local mezcal. We relaxed into chilaquiles and chocolate oaxacaquena con leche, then Baja fish tacos in Puerto Escondito. I will not forget the street vendor who drew a Sunday night crowd, pressing squash blossoms into tortillas she rolled out and grilled with Oaxacan string cheese. We traveled to visit my friend David in Mexico City and the Templo Mayor, the center of the Aztec universe. And Kat shared a Portland recipe, filling morels from the mushroom vendor at a local market.

Returning refreshed to NY, I shared my story about delivering bread in the early mornings of last winter, opening the TEDxEast November salon.

K and I began December in the tropical rainforest of Saba, a small Caribbean island with the shortest airport runway in the world. It was a perfect, and perfectly beautiful vacation.

Saba rainforest

Saba rainforest

Here’s to a spectacular 2012!

Related posts:

  1. Year Two: There Was A Star Danced
  2. year three: there was a star danced
  3. a miami year