2014 was a pretty great year for me in blogging. I went on and posted about quite a few food adventures, made a lot of great food, but most important of all, I made a significant lifestyle change that will ultimately set the tone for this blog moving forward. But, before we can move on, we must look back on some of the highlights of 2014 and celebrate what was probably my best year in blogging so far.
1. Most Popular Post of 2014
Funny enough, this was one of my first posts of 2014 and it has proved to be the most popular, judging from the over 2,600 views it had over the course of the year. I guess people really love patbingsu, as it should be loved, for it is one of the most perfect dessert creations of my people. I still remember the patbingsu in the above picture very fondly and I’m so glad that I was able to have a taste of it. It was truly a foodgasmic experience and if any of you are patbingsu lovers hitting the Seoul area in the future, I highly recommend battling the crazy busy alleyway-style street of Samcheong-dong to find this little spot of heaven.
General note: Most of my “Seoul Series” posts garnered a ton of traffic in 2014, even the ones posted in 2013.
2. Most Popular Restaurant Review
Am I sensing a theme here? By views alone, my post on Korean Village got the most views of my 2014 restaurant reviews. I haven’t been back there in a while, but it would be my go-to Korean restaurant in Calgary (its close proximity to where I live certainly doesn’t hurt). Their Tteok Galbi (pictured) is still one of my favourites and it’s difficult to find this on the menu at most Korean restaurants. Ever since Mark’s parents moved back to Edmonton, they’ve been saying how lacking the Korean food is in Edmonton and how much they miss Korean Village, so the next time they pop down to Calgary, I’m fairly certain this will one of the first places they want to hit.
3. Most Popular Recipe
Yep, there’s definitely a theme. How fitting that my most popular posts are all related to my homeland. I certainly did eat my fair share of great homeland dishes and being able to share my family’s bulgogi recipe was a great experience. Every Korean family has their own version of bulgogi and my mom’s is still my favourite (I’m biased, obviously). I’ve been wrestling with making a non-sweetened marinade to satisfy my bulgogi cravings but nothing has come of that yet. This will be only of my experiments for 2015.
Now onto some of my personal favourites and highlights.
1. Best Overall Dining Experience
I have to hand it to these guys. From a quaint and completely unassuming house on the corner of Edmonton Trail, a group of dedicated and passionate chefs are cranking out delicious Japanese-influenced fusion dishes, all the while making you feel incredibly welcome and well taken care of. A restaurant doesn’t have to be slick or fancy with all the right decor and a splashy presentation; Cerezo is living proof of that. The place is super quirky and nothing quite matches, but that’s part of its aesthetic. They have an interesting and varied menu that changes with the seasons and whatever happens to inspire the chef. Our last visit to Cerezo was for dinner in the summertime and it was a truly memorable dining experience. Each item was perfectly prepared and beautifully presented. The service is quick, attentive, and friendly. It happened to be a quiet night so one of the cooks came to chat with us personally. We got to know the faces behind what makes Cerezo such a great place and it’s that kind of connection that really drives home a restaurant experience. I hope to go back there frequently in the future and see what other delights they have come up with.
2. Best Overall Dish
Oh yes, this simple little appetizer was really the best thing I ate in 2014. How so? I really think the answer lies in its sheer simplicity. It’s asparagus, a poached egg, some frizzy greens topped with a mushroom sauce. How could it be so spectacular? Mark described this as “summer in my mouth”. Truly, this was magical. My only regret is not going back to have this again and again. Since the menu at Cassis changes seasonally, this is probably no longer offered as an item. Why didn’t I go back for more? I really, really should have. This was all things a great dish should be.
3. Best Dessert
Yup, another mention for Cassis Bistro. Come to think of it, that whole meal was pretty spectacular, but the true standouts were the appetizer and this beautifully balanced, perfectly executed lemon tart. The crackling brulee top gave way to a silky smooth, tart and sweet lemon filling, all encased in the perfect crust. A simple yet elegant dessert; it didn’t need anything more than that fine dusting of icing sugar. As the theme seems to be at Cassis, they just let the food be with no need to embellish; the flavours did all the dazzling.
4. Best Sweet Item
The main reason I booked this particular food tour was the mention of cannoli. I used to be a diehard fan of cannoli and this was the best sweet item of 2014. The shell was crisp and fresh and the ricotta filling was a dream. We went back for more cannoli the day after the tour while waiting for a table at a nearby restaurant. If only I could’ve brought back some with me – these were awesome, awesome cannoli.
5. New Favourite
It took too long for us to finally visit Gruman’s Deli but when we did, we both loved it. Not only was the food great, the service was outstanding and our overall experience made us fast fans. We didn’t get a chance to go back there in 2014, but we will continue to go back for their excellent smoked meat and overall casual, friendly vibe.
That wraps up some of the highlights and bests of 2014. I’m looking forward to a new year of blogging that I hope will be filled with many more great eats and experiences. A big, giant thank you and hugs to those who visit, comment, and everyone in between.