Foodie Hits and Misses of 2014

Foodie Hits and Misses of 2014
The American Skillet Company's Wisconsin Skillet represents a favorite food trend of 2014

Is it cliché to say the years just seem to go by faster and faster? Well, I’m gonna say it anyway. I can’t believe it’s already time for my annual foodie retrospective!

2014 was filled with adventures, successes and challenges that I believe will pave the way for a prosperous and fruitful new year. My family was fortunate to be able to take a vacation to , where we were wined and dined by my sister and brother-in-law, visiting gorgeous beaches, mountains and islands. Here at home, I had a blast partnering with local food folks to put together , which set the groundwork for Madison Eats’ 2015 season. On a low note, I lost a job that I enjoyed a lot, but when one door closes … Oh, and the five pounds I had gained by this time last year? This year it was eight.

The kids are growing up fast—yes, another cliché. Our twelve-year-old son now makes breakfast on the weekends without being asked, and though he still spends too much time on his device, he has used it to learn magic card tricks that entertain us all. Our seven-year-old daughter is honing her budding career as a singer on her new karaoke machine. Very loudly. On the plus side, I now know the real words to “Roar.”

There were many food adventures along the way, both amazing and, well, less than stellar. Here’s what I’ll take from this year, and what I’ll toss through that open door.

Nailed

Fruit beers I love the fruit beers that have been emerging, and unlike the fruity, sweet alcoholic drinks of my youth, these actually have distinctive flavors and bold character. My fave in 2014 was New Glarus Brewing Company’s Cran-bic.

Sea-to-table cuisine Seafood seemed to have gotten the short end of the stick in the wave of effort to bring sustainable meats to restaurant tables, or to label them as such. Though I think there is still some concern over accurate seafood labeling, the effort to include information about the source and harvesting method of the catch of the day is welcome.

Failed

Bacon beverages I like to eat my bacon, that’s all.

Kale, sort of I want to put kale on this list, because I feel like it became the landmark dark leafy green for the masses, and what about little ol’ chard? But then I popped kale leaves in my bamboo steamer to soften them before sautéing it, and voila. I love kale.

Bad quality chocolate. Because life is too short to waste on bad chocolate–and there is so much good chocolate available!

Nailed

Bamboo steamer My son berates me for my lack of lust for electronic gadgets, and in this case he’s right. Stackable layers of woven bamboo mean controlled steaming of your favorite foods all at once. Just add water and fire. Can you say “grunt”?

Anything in the shape of Wisconsin Cutting boards, skillets, bowls … Besides (or while) serving cheese, these are a great way for a foodie to show loyalty to our fair state.

Failed

Glass cutting board Does anyone really use one of these? I think the sanitation factor is greatly outweighed by the obnoxious loud clinking that you make when dicing carrots on glass, dulling your knife in seconds. I’m cringing just thinking about it.

Cheese slicer I know I have some opponents on this issue (hi, hubby!), but the triangle slicer we possess serves only two purposes: to slice cheese into too-thick pieces and to create large, uneven chunks of aged cheese. Both of those things can be accomplished with a knife, plus with a knife I can cut the thin slices I prefer.

Nailed

The chef-driven food movement Our food community has been strengthened by the network of chefs committed to fostering a sense of community and support among foodies, chefs, producers and farmers, putting Madison on the map, again, as a top-notch culinary destination.

Cooking classes Cooking is a life skill. And some nights you just want to make your own dinner. Cooking classes are a great way to learn everything from basic cooking skills to specialized culinary instruction. The world of food is your oyster!

Failed

Department/grocery store What do you call those places? Supercenters? Buying groceries at a store that is not a grocery store is convenient, yes, but convenience and food (even if labeled “organic”) should not go in the same sentence.

CAFO, or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations Not a new trend, I  know, but I still feel strongly that we don’t need mass feeding operations to feed people well. In fact, I would argue the opposite; when we produce our food in a sustainable way, we grow a healthier society.

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