Friday, 30 December 2011

2011 in review

To eat, or not to eat: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the belly to suffer
The aches and pains of outrageous excess,
Or to take pause amongst a sea of temptations,
And by abstaining defeat them?

2011 was a big year for me. As a food writer I notched up quite a few achievements.

First off were some online recipe development jobs. I had an absolute blast creating and testing recipes – and getting paid for it!

I also started freelance magazine pieces, in particular some on again off again writing for the fabulous new SBS magazine: Feast. I love the multicultural Australia ethos of the magazine – real food, real people – and found it so rewarding to interview average, passionate Aussies, watching them transform raw ingredients into a dish that embodies special meaning for them. A true pleasure.

But best of all, my first book was published.

Seeing my name on the cover, in book store displays, on billboards and the side of a bus . . . what a feeling!

Pride? Hells yeah!

The Losers of 2011

My time.

Since I started this beauty in 2006, this year marks the least number of blog posts I’ve written in a year.

In 2011, freelance writing (and a restructure and subsequent promotion in my day job) has lead to a distinct lack of personal time that would have otherwise been dedicated to this blog.

This lack of time is evident in my failed 2011 food challenges, where I only completed 18 out of 34 and didn’t even get a chance to blog a chunk of the ones I actually ticked off.

I hope I can get back on track in 2012.

The Winners of 2011

2011 saw a lot of winners.

I met/worked/bonded with some lovely new and interesting people this year. Through conversation and inspiration, I really feel like I’ve grown.

With my new found skills, I feel the quality of the blog improved.

M&M went through a redesign, thanks to my talented friend Suzy, although I still need to create some buttons and other bits and pieces to finish it off. Nonetheless I feel like the new black and white site looks much cleaner. Overall I’m pretty happy.

It seems Americana won out overall, for me and for Sydney, as evidenced by the explosion of dude food venues, burger joints, hot dog bars, fry-ups, taquerias and other old-school US culinary salutes that sprouted up in parallel to hipster fashion trends.

As my taste buds continue to evolve, quite a few hated food items suddenly scored top points:

Almond: amaretto and marzipan had made me gag since I was a kid, but now I could drink a gallon and even found myself making marzipan truffles!

Caramel: I had always considered it to be ho-hum but it’s now a soft, fudgy favourite (especially salted caramel).

Fresh mint: I add it to all my drinks these days but previously had detested it in both food and drinks. I could never order a mojito for all the terrible mint but now it’s a preferred summer option.

Brussels sprouts: one of the world’s most hated veggies moved from my “pinch my nose in disgust” list to my “gee whiz mom, can we have brussels sprouts for dinner?”.

Vanilla: These little black pods had seemed like the most overrated and dull of all the spices. It’s strange, but this year I realised how much I enjoyed it in almost everything.

Custard: I suppose the new-found-love of vanilla helped fan this flame, but custard transformed from boring to luscious in 2011. Chocolate custard is a particular favourite.

Rhubarb: I see a pattern here. What better to go with vanilla, custard and almonds than the tangy sweet-sour flavours of rhubarb.

Things I always enjoyed but in 2011 become a passion:

Chardonnay & Shiraz: the bold, punch-in-the-face flavours of these two varietals charmed me into submission

Bacon: Jonas has taken to saying “everything tastes better with bacon” and although I’m not sure I agree with this challenge that seems to be taken literally in many food circles, bacon is still pretty darn tasty.

Bourbon: this sweet, golden, corn-based, oak-barrel-aged nectar coming from the counties of Kentucky has found a special little place in my heart and has opened the doors to other kinds of whiskeys and whiskies from around the world.

Favourite M&M recipes of 2011

Achiote & Tequila Cured Beef w Pozole Rojo

Bacon Jam

Braised Purple Heirloom Carrots

Caramelised Fig Baked Custards

Cherry, Feta & Oregano Salad

Argentina's chorizo hot dog

Christmas Trifle w Cinnamon Cherries,
Eggnog Custard, Port Jelly & Clove Pound Cake

Crispy Brussels Sprouts & Bacon

Earl Grey & Rhubarb Jam

Grilled Avocado w Melted Cheese & Hot Sauce

Passionfruit Ganache Truffles

Persian Orange Cakes w Quince, Rose & Pistachio

Polish Pickle Soup

Smoky Pulled Pork

Wholemeal Blueberry Bundt Cake

Stay tuned for my traditional 1st of January post where I outline my annual food challenges!


  1. Congrats on an exciting year, and yes seeing our names on the cover of a book is pretty spesh! lol. I think we all seem to be running out of time these days, but I wouldn't be too hard on yourself. You've achieved so much more than you expected at the start of this year, I bet, and I reckon 2012 will be even bigger! Happy New Year, Anna :)

  2. helen - thanks so much for putting me forward for the guide. it all started there. happy new year to you too!

  3. It's been a great year for you! I had fun reading your list of previously hated foods, I've had similar experiences lately. And ditto on the bacon! Happy new year Anna!

  4. lateral - it's awesome when more food opens up to you, isn't it :) happy new year to you!


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