Sunday, December 30, 2012

Highs and Lows for 2012

by Sheila Connolly

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…

So said Charles Dickens, in A Tale of Two Cities.  Substitute "food" for "times" and you have the key to this post. I thought it might be fun to take a quick look at the food highs and lows of this past year for the writer-chefs of Mystery Lovers' Kitchen—and you!

Pop quiz (no grades!):

A. What's the best thing you ate this past year? (Don't think too hard, just say what pops into your head first.) What one food or dish was completely unforgettable?

B. Or, if there are too many memorable examples to pick from, what food did you try for the first time in 2012?

C. What's the worst thing you ate this past year, the one thing you will never, ever try again and will warn all your friends and relatives to stay away from?

We at MLK would love to hear about your culinary experiences, both good and bad.

I'll start off.  Here are my examples:

A.  Yes, too many to count, so I'll skip ahead to

B.  Samphire.  Say what?  I'd never seen or heard of it until it showed up in a dish of steamed mussels I had in a pub in Dublin.  Samphire (also known as sea fennel) is an herb or vegetable that grows on muddy, sandy flats (marsh samphire) near the sea or on rocky seaside cliffs (rock samphire, which grows in such places as the White Cliffs of Dover, where Shakespeare mentioned it). It tastes a bit like asparagus but with a salty flavor, and it adds crunch to dishes.  (And I love the name.)

C. Durian.  This was something I'd heard of but never met face to face.  I came upon it at a trendy Thai restaurant called Pok Pok in Brooklyn.  It is a large thorny fruit that stinks, so why do people eat it?  Well, as one of my tablemates at the restaurant said, "it smells like **** but it tastes like heaven."  At Pok Pok it was served in a dessert, in the form of a custard on sweet sticky rice.  The **** odor was noticeable, at least at first taste; the "heaven" part might be a bit exaggerated, although it was pleasant enough, or at least, not awful.  Anyway, I'm not going back for more, but I'm happy to check durian on my bucket list.

Please share your Bests and Worsts from 2012.  Leave us a comment!







  1. I had a glazed donut this week that is coming to mind screaming "choose me!"

    But if I can push that donut aside, I'd say a slice of pizza with prosciutto topping.

    I did not enjoy the big greasy wad of fois gras that came on a recent hamburger:). My friend Lyn took it off my hands... (I know, what kind of foodie am I??)

  2. I had durian once when we were driving through Malaysia from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur. The driver stopped at a roadside fruit/vegetable stand and showed them to use. I did try some...kind of like a coconut custard. Also tried mangosteens but have no recollection of how they tasted. All the hotels in Southeast Asia had a sign with a picture of a durian with a red ban symbol through it! They DO stink. I was floored when I saw a woman buying one at our local Asian market. Had no idea they imported them.

  3. Sheila, Durian sounds like some smelly cheeses! LOL Smell like ick, taste divine.

    Happy new year to all who read our blog and our books. We certainly appreciate you.

    Daryl /Avery

  4. Best fish taco in Morro Bay :)

  5. The best was salted dark chocolate covered caramels. They fly out of the store! Simply delicious.

    I tried pea shoots for the first time. They're so good. You eat them raw in a salad or instead of lettuce on a sandwich. They taste just like peas!

    Wow. Hard to recall the worst. I know I made a few dishes that were so bad that I didn't post them here! LOL!

    ~ Krista

  6. I've been experimenting with Turkish food this year since my son and his family will be stationed there this coming new year. I love the lamb kababs I made. The Turkish grocery store where I buy the lamb sells the best!!!!! The worst food I've had is not really a food, but it goes in your mouth - Turkish chewing gum. YUK!!! It's like chewing tough rubber bands with no flavor. Nasty. But alas; I must do something about my weight so it's Weight Watchers for me at the moment. Still enjoy reading MLK and will just have to imagine how wonderful your recipes taste!!!
    Happy New Year.