best of 2009: trips & food

I'm participating in the Best of 2009 Challenge in order to reflect on the past year. It's easy to get so caught up in the bus(y)iness of holidays and all of a sudden it's a new year and I'm sitting on the couch wondering what the hell 2009 was about and where it went.

I am a few days behind many of the participants but I'm starting at the beginning anyway and following Kelly Rae Roberts' example and combining 2 of the entries. The topic for the first two best ofs are: What was your best trip in 2009? and Share the best restaurant experience you had this year. Who was there? What made it amazing? What taste stands out in your mind?

Fittingly, my best trip and my best restaurant moment coincide. Although let me preface this by saying that I had many great trips in 2009. I visited my parents in PCB for almost a month and though it was difficult being away for that long; I really enjoyed connecting with my mother in ways I hadn't before. I've never spent so much time with either of my parents in my adult life and it was an interesting and challenging time. It was challenging because I pushed myself and my mother to go out and do things, to experience life together. To connect with her on that level really changed me. And I just want to say thanks to M for understanding that I needed to take that journey. I also loved the trip we took to Chicago with both the moms. It was a fantastic way for the 4 of us to spend some time together. On that trip, we had a great dining experience at Roy's Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine . The food was amazing: edamame as an appetizer just sitting on the table, you got it! We all ordered something different and tasted from one another's plate but mostly we all stuck with our orders. The food was delicious and the company, wonderful.

However, my favorite trip this year was our foodie road trip where we ate at Ariane Duarte's restaurant CulinAriane and I'm still talking about the amuse-bouche and halibut I ate there. Oh and the duck confit that was underneath the salad, my god. It was absolutely the best meal I've ever eaten. The experience itself was fantastic in that Ariane was so gracious as we gushed about how much we loved her on Top Chef and then we took badly lit, cheesy cell phone pictures with her. It totally lived up to and exceeded our expectations. The trip as a whole was one of those unforgettable series of moments. What I loved most was just hanging out with M; she makes all of the stuff I do more memorable, important and meaningful. I told her recently that everything I do is made better if I do it with her and I believe that.

On a side note, one of my favorite academic(y) trips was the brief trip to FemRhet in East Lansing this year where once again, we had amazing food, this time at the hotel restaurant. They dip their dessert forks in chocolate! Seriously! We also had at this Mexican restaurant which tasted almost exactly like our favorite Mexican place in Champaign.

Ultimately what I'm realizing is how many of my fond memories from trips revolve around food. Who is not surprised about that?

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