10 best things in 2012

Although I may sometimes pretend otherwise, I am not a food critic nor a movie reviewer. And though I have traveled a lot this year, I’m not a travel writer.  So I can’t exactly compile a list of 10 best meals, or 10 favorite places.  So, instead of a single theme, I am making a list of the 10 most awesome things in 2012, in my opinion.

Best Meal: Sushiso Masa

Maybe you didn’t read the blog I wrote about this meal, but it blew my mind — forever changing my perception about sushi.  Don’t eat sushi twenty times at the crappy place down the street — eat it just once with a master. I get a giddy feeling when I eat something that is truly delicious. I had it with every bite at this restaurant.

Most Beautiful Place: Yunnan Province

Our trip to China was incredible in so many ways.  But walking through the rice fields of Yunnan province stands out.  This video — having been released around the holidays (and while we were in Sri Lanka) — hasn’t been seen as much as we’d like.  But it’s one of our favorites.  Imagine a 1,300 year old farming system that works perfectly with the enviroment, with the village, with the people… and then make it the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen.


Best New Partnership: Intrepid Travel

It’s not only the fact that we get to travel around the world that is great, it’s that we get to work with Intrepid Travel on making it happen.  They are a great company, but they are also great people.  It’s just a pleasure to have a collaboration of mutual respect.

Life Changing Material Good: My Espresso Machine

My good friend Dan from Dogwood Coffee in Minneapolis had an espresso machine lying around (totally normal).  I put it in my house and my world changed.  Sure, I don’t get out as much — and I drink way too much coffee.  But…well, no that’s it. Sometimes I try to imagine my life before the espresso machine, and I just black out.

Most Fun Cooking: Gaijinner!

To celebrate the launch of Season 3 of our series and the first of the Japan videos, I cooked with Sean Brock and Brad McDonald at Governor restaurant in NYC.  Collaboration with a bunch of talented chefs is a fun way to spend a couple days.  Sadly, 2 days after the event, Sandy happened and destroyed the restaurant.  They are still rebuilding.  Help


Favorite Book: Beyond the Beautiful Forevers

I picked this book up before heading to India last month.  It’s non-fiction, but written like a novel. And through the story of a slum in Mumbai, this book shares some insight into why the poor of India aren’t rising up in revolution.  Devastating and inspiring.


Favorite Cookbook: Faviken

It has been a long time since a cookbook really made me think about how I cook.  Mostly, I look at the pictures and learn a few techniques.  But Faviken is all philosophy of cooking and it makes you want to cook naturally and perfectly.  I highly recommend this read.

Favorite Movie: Undefeated (but that’s from last year) and Beasts of the Southern Wild

Undefeatable is a documentary from last year, but I just watched it.  The film raises the bar for documentaries.  It may be about a football team, but the ammont of time that went into crafting what is essentially a fast paced action sports movie – only real.  Is Incredilbe.  And then Beasts of the Southern Wild is like a beautiful poem about what it means to be alive.

Biggest Loss: Mirra left my red sweatshirt on a plane to Montana. She has since bought me three red sweatshirts to replace the one she lost, but none can replace the original. Im trying to find some way to forgive her. But I just cant.

Biggest Win:  Chipotle and CIW together at last.

Tomato laborers have been fighting for a long time to get living wages and decent conditions.  One of our favorite episodes this year was about their plight.  Chipotle, for some reason, had been holding out.  But finally, the burrito kings and the impressive organization have found a way to work together.  Tacos and people’s lives are a lot better because of it.