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.
Just after my March birthday, K and I flew from chilly New York to Barcelona,
the city of Gaudi architecture, and this strange and wonderful cathedral, eternally being built.
My year was to look like this roof on the Santa Caterina Market,
but I didn’t know that yet.
We were then to Cannes, with its crêpes and cider, and my first time with Margalet cheese from the Ceneri cheese shop,
and to the famed La Colombe D’Or.
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.
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.
The weekend helped me remember my steel magnolia roots as I headed back to Atlanta to visit my mother.
June was my sister Kassandra’s wedding,
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.
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,
seeking out herring in season (Hollandse Nieuwe) at special stands, and spending time in our friend Gary’s magnificent kitchen.
We took a day trip to Cologne, with its cathedral and love locks.
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.
Shockingly, we spent the time eating the region’s renowned clotted cream,
preparing elaborate meals we took to eating outside,
and touring walled gardens.
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.
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.
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.
Here’s to a spectacular 2012!