December 31, 2012

Best of 2012

It's that time of year...the Best of Lists for 2012. I thought I'd reflect and look back on the past 12 months of traveling, cooking, eating, and cupcaking.

Chung's Best of 2012:

Favorite City: Most of 2012 was spent in Houston, and then Buffalo, Sarasota and Chicago. Even though I spent only three days in Seattle, I still can say it was my favorite spot to explore and eat. And it is home to my all-time favorite cupcake (more on that later).
Best Restaurant Experience: Highlights over the year are Owen's Fish Camp in Sarasota and Publican Quality Meats in Chicago but I still can't get over the amazing meal I had at Uchi in Houston last August. Unique and oh-so-delicious. 
Best New Food Adventure: This year I was introduced to Chinese Hot Pot, a savory cupcake, pig's ears and crawfish. The one that sticks out in my mind for a second try is crawfish. They were pokey, sharp lil suckers but were doused in a very tasty but potent garlicky sauce. Come prepared to eat slowly and to get really messy. Crawfish, I hope we meet again. 
Best Food Truck: I went to a handful of food trucks around Houston but my favorite dish was the Fried Chicken Sandwich at The Waffle Bus in Houston. The chicken is sandwiched inside a folded up waffle bun and topped with a spicy and sweet ancho chili honey sauce. Yum. 
Best Bundt: It's been a GREAT year for me + bundts in the kitchen. Seriously, all were so tasty and it's hard to pick just one but if you twist my arm, I'd choose the Tunnel of Fudge Bundt Cake. Rich, decadent and incredibly tasty. It was worth every minute of the very labor-intensive recipe and the kitchen blunder I encountered while making this epic cake.
Don't forget these other gems: Summer Berry Bundt Cake and Apple Cider Doughnut Cake.

Best New Kitchen Gadget: I received two new toys for the kitchen this year, both on my birthday. While I love both my immersion blender and mini donut pan, I'm going to have to give a slight edge to the donut pan because I can't get over how cute my first batch of donuts turned out.
Best New Vegetable: This year I introduced myself to some new veggies in the kitchen: kale, beets, butternut squash, leeks, parsnips and eggplant. I can honestly say I like them all but I'm going to give the award to butternut squash since this veggie provided many tasty meals this fall. 
Best New Baked Recipe: I found the recipe for these ginger bars way back in January, while trapped inside on a very stormy day. Little did I know that I would bake them THREE more times this month for the holidays and even inspired some others to bake them as well. I know one of my brothers in-law is very thankful I found this little gem. Fluffy, just the right amount of spice, not too sweet and the perfect holiday treat. 
Best Cupcake: It's a no-brainer: Pancakes n' Bacon from The Yellow Leaf cupcake co. in Seattle. I was just describing it to my brother in-law the other day and it made me wanna hop on a plane to Seattle and go back for more, ASAP. Who knew that pancakes, maple syrup, and bacon all together in a cupcake would create the most delicious concoction?

Happy New Year! Looking forward to more adventures in 2013.

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