I give in. It’s the fifth day of leftovers and the umpteenth day of cake. It must surely be time to write that end-of-year blog post, if only to keep my hands busy with something other than the TV remote. So here, without further ado or fanfare, I give you 2012, the spuds-eye view.
If there is one event above all others that marks 2012, it’s the loss of my irrepressible, irreplaceable Da. I miss him every day and presume fondly that heavenly consumption of both spuds and Guinness has skyrocketed since he got there. I also presume that he would have been pleased about the many notable things that have happened during the past Daily Spud year, most of which I didn’t get to tell him about in person, and here’s hoping that 2013 will bring even more things for him to be pleased about, wherever he is.
2012 saw me writing features on food for the Irish edition of the Sunday Times. Predictably enough, my first article was about spuds (though bread, cheese and coffee have since, among others, been fair game). It’s been quite an experience so far.
Of course, I wasn’t the only one writing about the potato in the national press. It was, to my mind, a hot topic this year – the Irish Times went all out on the subject for St. Patrick’s Day – and yes, they did ask me for my opinion while they were at it.
It was (and is) a huge honour to have, this year, become a contributing editor for John and Sally McKennas’ legendary Irish Food Guide. This has meant eating – for the benefit of those who read the guide, naturally – at places from The Eastern Seaboard in Louth to The Cottage in Leitrim. Cue an extremely satisfied sigh.
Working with the McKennas during 2012 also meant a trip to the Laois village of Stradbally at the end of the summer to assist with the judging of the Electric Picnic Food Awards. That, I would have to say, is very nice work indeed.
Speaking of the Electric Picnic, it was my very great pleasure to present an E.P. food award to Kaethe Burt O’Dea of SPUDS.ie. SPUDS (Sustainable Potatoes United Development Study) was founded in response to the decision by Teagasc to conduct field trials on potatoes genetically modified to enhance blight resistance, a move which was, by far and away, the spud story of the year (I certainly talked about it here, here, here and a few other places as well). SPUDS aim is to conduct community-based research into the viability of naturally blight resistant potato varieties and potatoes that might otherwise have been rejected because of shape or size were used to create “Crisps with a Conscience” which, in turn, help to fund their work. A fine example of feelgood food.
It may be cold outside now but Food and Wine Magazine thought I was hot stuff this year. They included The Daily Spud in their Hot 100 list, while Woman & Home Magazine listed la Spud among their 100 best food blogs. Nice and nicer.
This year did, at times, feel like the year of the cookbook – at least judging by the number of new Irish cookbooks that came my way – and it was more than lovely to have a recipe of mine appear in the Goodall’s curated Modern Irish Cookbook, which featured a collection of recipes from Irish bloggers.
There was, you may have noticed, a fair amount of blog-related gallivanting in 2012 – including, among others, a whirlwind couple of days in Italy to see what goes into those jars of pesto, a trip to remotest West Cork and the Firehouse Bread School on Heir Island for a most memorable day of bread making and a visit to Con Traas and his wonderful apple farm in Tipperary. Lucky, lucky me.
Of course, it wouldn’t be the Daily Spud if there weren’t at least a few potato recipes knocking about. Among them, this chocolate potato cake was a keeper and pasta alla Genovese proved both that potatoes and pasta can co-exist and that it’s a classic for a reason. The most unusual recipe award, meanwhile, would have to go to Heston Blumenthal’s potato milk jam. It had to be made, once at least.
And last, but not least for 2012, were the spudly creations of others – memorable were shamrock crisps made by the innovative Keogh’s crew; some more than pleasantly surprising potato and white chocolate macarons in The Greenhouse on Dublin’s Dawson St.; and the bliss of simply jacketed spuds at Moloughney’s of Clontarf. My Da would have especially liked those.