Sobremesa In Spain: Looking Back on 2012

"No matter what we have come through, or how many perils we have safely passed, or how imperfect and jagged - in some places perhaps irreparably -- our life has been, we cannot in our heart of hearts imagine how it could have been different. As we look back on it, it slips in behind us in orderly array, and, with all its mistakes, acquires a sort of eternal fitness, and even, at times, of poetic glamour."
-Randolph Silliman Bourne

It sometimes may seem from the pages and photos of this site that life is full of shiny-happy-people, unicorns and gourmet food experiences. And yet, like any mortal, I also suffer from bad days, poor food choices and horrendous restaurant experiences, trials of my self-confidence, pimples and an every day less perky culo. However, as the above quote embodies, at the end of the day, or the end of the year in today's case, I wouldn't have changed the occurrences in my life at all in 2012 or any other for that matter, some days even blessed me with a particular poetic glamour.

We still haven't made it to the Gulf of Thailand, and maybe we won't on this trip through Southeast Asia, therefore Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain remains our preferred island. We revisited the Teguise municipality, our destination for budget accommodation, partook in local activities and immensely enjoyed the Lanzarote wine scene.

A layover in Hong Kong (after 16 hours of travel) turned out to be one of the best happy accidents of 2012. Our 6 hours on Hong Kongian (yes, I'm not sure if it's Hong Kongese or what) soil led us to Tim Ho Wan Dim Sum restaurant, and hands down the most deliciously cheap meal of the year, as well as solidifying a crucial travel memory.

French cheese straight from the source. 
This may seem like a bizarre thing to add to a "Best of the Year" post, but the truth is, I still think about these cheeses. I can still taste the nutty-sweet yet slightly sour components of the Compte. Or perhaps I'm simply waxing poetic because I haven't had a single slice of cheese in over two months?? Let's hope I'm not lactose intolerant by the time I return to Europe or the States.

Discovering real tastes.
I remember traveling to Spain for the first time in 2003 with my best friend Rosie. She couldn't wait to get her hands on a café con leche; I wasn't a big coffee drinker at the time, but trusted her perception that American coffee was watered down attempts of the storied European espresso traditions. When I moved to Spain and started ordering coffees on my own -- finding solace amongst the hard metal seats and espresso machine steam --  I still leaned towards the omnipresent cafe standard, café con leche. But it wasn't until I found good, great coffee in Madrid, that I actually started to appreciate origins, decipher between coffee shop offerings and really savor a good cup of joe.

The home cooking of Thailand and incredibly "fresh salads" that didn't contain a speck of lettuce, were also highlights.

Meeting the folks that make our food.
Perhaps this is one of my proudest accomplishments of the year, and also one that I cherish dearly, because it has confirmed my future. Meeting artisans such as, Juan Luis of La Cabezuela, Ruben of Cantagrullas, Julio and Alfonso of Crica dairy farm, with their passion so rigorous and their pretension non-existent, has made me a believer in the human power of sustainable food systems, of reversal processes and community.

Best meal of the year. 
In 2011, I pronounced Asador Etxebarri as the best meal of the year. This year I'd like to pass the torch to Aponiente in Cadiz, Andalusia, Spain. While in terms of excess, this year was certainly more frugal than others and less restaurants were visited, Aponiente is still very deserving of this mention. Chef Angel Leon is not simply creating amazing plates and tasteful food, he is reinventing the restaurant experience and diners' perception of sustainable sourcing and consumption, whilst educating numerous folks in and out of the food industry.

Here's to a happy, healthy and delicious 2013. May you all follow your dreams, live your lives with purpose and never fail at continuously seeking out and finding that purpose. 

Related links:

We Say Goodbye to 2011


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