Things I Look Forward To In 2009…

I’ve decided to jump on the bandwagon with all the other foodie sites out there and put together a list.  The difference here is that my list is going to involve my own personal culinary goals for the year.  Since I’m typically such a schizophrenic cook in the kitchen and don’t often bother with those silly things called recipes, my list is going to be full of broad topics I want to cover.

In no particular order, they are:

1- Trying bone marrow for the first time. A long time ago when the Everyman and I went to Thuet for dinner an adjacent table had ordered a marrow appetizer.  I remember being thoroughly disgusted at the time.  Then I read Service Included by Phoebe Damrosch and experienced the sexification of the humble bone.  She doesn’t spend a great deal of time discussing the subject, but a passage about a bone marrow taste-off had me yearning to find out what all the fuss was about.  Perhaps later this year I will get the chance.

2- Experimenting with offal. I dabbled a bit during our numerous trips to Cowbell where it is almost unavoidable due to their nose to tail philosophy.  This year I plan to test the waters a bit more.  One of the restaurants that had been a contender for the big anniversary dinner (Noce) had a tongue preparation on the menu that I wanted to try.  I think I may be one of the only people left on the planet who is not enamored with the mighty fois, though I do love a good pate.  More than anything I’d just like to push my borders a bit more and see what else is out there.  One person’s scraps are often another’s delicacy after all.

3- Branching out in the game game. The Everyman is a self-professed game lover.  Whenever he sees any game on a menu it forces him to rethink his decision to have the status quo (steak).  I quite enjoy duck (hardly considered game anymore), cornish hens, quails, bison, kangaroo and elk, but the game is more often than not relegated to tertiary status when it comes to my potential menu options.  I’d like to break away from that self-imposed constriction and see what else is out there in the wild world of game.  I think I may even have reached the turning point where rabbit has stopped being cute and could possibly become edible.  Only time will tell.

4- Buying more “weird” fruits and vegetables. Last year I was inadvertently introduced to  kohlrabi, chard, and sunchokes through our organic grocer and granadillas by the Everyman (who took me literally when I requested him to bring me back a new “weird” fruit from the store at lunch one day).  It’s amazing to think sometimes how a new culinary adventure is sometimes no further than your corner grocery store.  This year I’d like to not only increase my intake of whole fruits and veggies (always a noble goal) but up the quotient of strange, new ones too.

5- Eating more vegetarian meals. Before I met the Everyman I tended to eat a vegetarian diet most days of the week and only cook meat once or twice.  This had nothing to do with altruistic principles involving organizations like PETA, or even budgetary constraints.  It was simply a matter of most meat dishes I would want to eat being more involved than I wished to undertake for a solitary supper.  The Everyman does indeed love his meat (hence his being christened the Everyman) but we have both discussed the possibility of going vegetarian more often for no other reason than our health.  It looks like it may be time for me to dust off my old copy of Sally Schneider’s tome A New Way To Cook. This is an amazing book whose guiding principles include substituting crap for healthful fats, and reexamining meat as more of a condiment or flavoring to a dish rather than its centrepiece.  It is an outstanding guide and if you haven’t yet read it, I strongly suggest that you should.

6- Savor every bite. I do love love love my food.  And I try to make sure that I really enjoy whatever I let pass my lips (lest it spend a lifetime on my hips, snerk).   But as it is with most people these days, life is getting busier, work and home are more hectic, and more often than not meals end up being spent in front of the idiot box or computer screen rather than at a table with good company.  The simple act of sitting down at a table seems to discourage the extremely mindless eating that happens when in front of an inanimate screen.  This year I intend to spend more time slowing down and drinking in all the sensory pleasures of my meal and company and less time shoveling food into my piehole.  Bonus points if this strategy helps to whittle away a few pounds too.

7- Go on a culinary vacation. It could be somewhere as close as Prince Edward County or Niagara, or as far as Spain for tapas and a chance at Ferran, or even Heston in London, or Thomas in the Napa Valley.  Regardless of the place, I strongly hope to make a culinary pilgrimage of some kind this year.  The holy grail would be France or Italy, but I’d need more time than I have vacation days at the moment, so that dream will have to wait a little longer.  I wonder if I could convince the Everyman to do one of those staycations at a farmhouse in Europe… hmm…

So, those are the lofty goals for ’09.  We’ll have to wait another 364 days to find out how many of them I’m able to stick with, but it’ll be fun trying nonetheless.  Look for a summary of books I loved in 2008 to appear in the next week or so.

Until next time…

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