Bye bye 2011!

As 2011 comes to a close, I find myself with Neil and his mum, Rosemary, sitting on Lummi Island looking out on this:

We’re staying at the Nettles Farm Cabin (there are many chickens right outside the window!) at the Willows Inn and are excited for our five-course tasting menu tonight (which I will battle through even though I am not well, the things you do for the blog, right?) and whilst it’s not as far flung as some of us would like to be for New Years (Neil, I am looking at you!), it’s a very nice way to spend the holidays.  The past week or so has been an opportunity for me to really slow down and take stock on what has been a jam packed year.  I’ve never done a “looking back” post for my blog in its short life and I am sure many of you are sick of reading everyone’s recaps, but it’s been a great year for me in many ways and I wanted to do this for me.

It’s been a wonderful year for Les Petits Chefs.  Week after week, the boys have chopped, cooked, stirred and laughed their way into many of your hearts and I think you all know by now that Mondays are just that much better because I have cooking club to look forward to after school.

I know one of the high points of Les Petits Chefs’ year was being featured on Jamie Oliver’s website.  We were all SO excited (especially those of us who recognised our hands in the photos accompanying the article!) and I was so proud. I can’t wait to see what 2012 holds for the club!

Regular readers will have followed along our Charcutepalooza journey this year.

I learned a lot along this meaty journey but I think the most important thing is that (with a lot of help from Neil), I can pretty much achieve anything.  With most of the Charcutepalooza challenges, I stuck to the recipes provided in the book, not wishing to veer too far off track with items I had never made in my life.  I should have had more faith in our abilities.  Charcutapalooza has taught me that I can pretty much conquer anything I put my mind to – in 2012, I hope to put some of these lessons to use and create some original recipes for some of the items we enjoyed the most.

In 2011 I had my first article published in a Canada-wide magazine called Ensemble Vacations.

Seeing my name in print (and my words and photos) has made me realise that yes, this is what I want to do. Write. About food. Because, remember, this is the year I took an extended leave from my PhD studies as well. THAT sort of writing wasn’t doing it for me right now. Food writing does. Let’s see where I can go with that in 2012.  And yes, once I can share the complete article with you all, I absolutely will!

I am sure it was no surprise to you that my first published article was about macarons….

For this has, indeed, been the year of the macaron for me.  I finally (with a lot of help from my friends!) cracked the code to the fail-proof macaron (well, as much as macarons can be). I took a few (more) classes in Paris and I began teaching macaron classes in Toronto.  I know the macs probably have a limited shelf life so I am taking advantage of the interest whilst it’s there.

Apart from my determination to conquer all things macaron, I am also stunned to realise that I have not missed one, single French Fridays with Dorie post since it began, 62 weeks ago. Wow. That takes some determination and organisation too.

Working my way though this book has led me to meet a lovely bunch of fellow “Doristas” and learn a whole lot of techniques I never thought I would be able to master.  Dorie makes French food so “do-able”.  I was also fortunate enough to meet Dorie when I was in France this summer – a definite highlight of my year!

Ah yes, summer in France – (Paris, Burgundy and Alsace with a few days in London tossed in for good measure).

I ate my first Michelin starred meal at L’Auberge de l’Ill in the delightful company of Neil and our friend Cathy as well as the lovely Cathy Barrow and her husband Dennis.  Such an experience that there are no photos. It was a place you needed to live in the moment and I am very glad I chose to do so.  I am back in France this coming summer too – Paris, Champagne and the Rhône and I am excited for the possibilities such a trip might bring!

2011 hasn’t been all rose-coloured though, I was the most unwell I have ever been in my life, suffering from a severe inner ear viral infection resulting in ongoing vertigo. It’s been a challenge dealing with this for sure, but 10 months on, I am finally getting some treatment for the vertigo that everyone told me would just “go away”. Well it hasn’t and I am ready to have my old life back, so here’s to 2012 being the year I get myself back on track health-wise.  I am sure Nurse Cleo will be devastated there’s no more reason to crawl under the covers to “help”.

(this is what I woke up to many days when I couldn’t get out of bed!)

To end on a happy note, 2011 also saw the birth of Food Bloggers of Canada.

Only 3 months old but already successful beyond what Melissa, Ethan or I ever imagined, FBC has big plans in 2012. Watch this space!

So there you have it, it’s been a wonderful year of success and I’m even trying to draw some positive out of the more challenging parts. I am a true believer that everything happens for a reason.

Wishing you and your families health and happiness in 2012. Because nothing much else matters, right?

52 thoughts on “Bye bye 2011!”

  1. Such an amazing year! I am very proud of all you have done and wish you all the best. Perhaps our paths will cross again in 2012 (I hope!)
    Happy New Year!

  2. Congratulations on such a wonderfully productive and rewarding year, both for you personally and for It has been such a pleasure following along with you through your posts and your tweets.
    Much continued success with everything in 2012 Mardi, both professionally and personally. You are making an immeasurable difference in the lives of your Les Petit Chefs that will last them long after they leave your lab/kitchen for the final time.
    May 2012 bring you, Neil and Cleo all the best of everything and most especially, good and lasting health.

  3. Wishing you healing and happiness for 2012 as well, Mardi!
    If it’s half as exciting as 2011 was, you’re in for a fun ride. Nice to ‘meet’ you this year and I look forward to it actually being in person this year. xo

  4. Mardi – I am so happy to read this list of accomplishments for you in 2011! Remember our conversation over dinner a couple years ago? Cream always rises to the top! Wishing you much love and success in the new year.

  5. Great post, Mardi. But, for me, the clear pinnacle of the year (notwithstanding the undoubted difficulties of making the perfect macaron) is the involvement of the boys. Perhaps, just perhaps it’s the non-involvement (or, indeed, requirement) of technology which makes the boys so receptive to a task which involves thinking, doing and achieving. Surely so much more rewarding than clicking a keyboard.
    Great year, well done – to you and Master Neil.

  6. I don’t know what your issue is with your ear, but I was reading another blog where she said she had an ear problem and then she went gluten free and she no longer has a problem. I don’t mean to be presumptuous, but I thought I would send you the link. I myself have developed a soy sensitivity that has caused me to change my eating habits. My daughter suggested I start cooking so I knew exactly what I was eating, and no more processed food. I can’t believe how it has changed my life. May you have a healthy 2012.

  7. i love this post and am so glad you did do a retrospective – it’s fantastic seeing how much you’ve accomplished this year in your kitchen and on your blog! you have so much of which to be proud, my friend!! hoping 2012 brings you even more exciting opportunities – along with improved health of course!


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