January 1st, 2011 I introduced Best of 2011, which had a bit more of a focus than the previous year. I selected a book (The Twelve Best Foods) and a restaurant list (The 40 Best Restaurants in St. Louis) and each month we either ate at a restaurant on the list or I made two recipes from the cookbook featuring one of the twelve best foods. By the end of the year, we'd tried six (new to us) restaurants in St. Louis and eaten a recipe for each of the twelve best foods.
(For a complete link list of the 2 challenges, scroll to the bottom of the post)
I really liked last year's challenge. We had a blast picking which restaurant from the list to try every other month and it forces us to always try new places instead of sticking to our favorites. Although I only posted about six of the 40, there are several others on the list that we've tried and even more that will still plan to try. The recipe side of Best of 2011 was fun too. Although I don't know how you can truly say which twelve foods are the absolute best, it was fun to take this author's perspective and try out her recipes. The cookbook itself was pretty great and, much like the restaurant list, there are many other recipes I'd still like to try. Best of 2011 can be deemed a success!
Today, January 1st, 2012, I am once again introducing a personal challenge for the year. This year's, as named by my husband, is 2012: Eat and Repeat. The concept? We want to continue trying different restaurants in the St. Louis area and our inspiration is the 25 Best New Restaurants list put out a few months ago by St. Louis magazine. I'm hoping with only 25 restaurants instead of 40, it'll be easier to make our decision every other month!
The second half of the challenge will take place in The Sweets Life kitchen. Each month, following a new restaurant meal, I will attempt to recreate either something that Ryan or I ate at that restaurant, or something off of their menu. I love experimenting in the kitchen and basing my own meals off of what I've tried in restaurants (like the Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions, and Spinach over Creamy Goat Cheese Polenta, inspired by 1111 Mississippi). I think this will be a fun way to link the restaurant months to the cooking months while forcing me to try new things with my own cooking skills, especially since I often order more adventurously in restaurants. I can't wait to see how this year's challenge plays out!
Best of 2011
The Twelve Best Foods Recipes:
Best STL Restaurants:
Twelve in Ten
Making a Pie from Scratch (I chose peach)
Make a Yeast Bread (funny how this is no big deal anymore!)
Making Something with Shellfish (ended up being Lobster)