Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Best of 2008

“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” wrote Bill Bryson, one of my favourite authors.

In 2008, I was enriched by my travel to many new destinations around the world: Bangkok, Beijing, Vienna, Salzburg, New Orleans, and the Bahamas. I re-discovered Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi and Hyderabad as I continued my culinary journey through these cities. Also, I had another dream vacation in lovely Goa just before the rains came down.

This year, I dined at some excellent places in Vegas, and ate my way through San Francisco and the Silicon Valley. The highlights? Thomas Keller's Bouchon, Chez TJ, Ame, Boulevard, Mantra, Slanted Door, Archipelago, Junnoon, One Market, Bong Su and Alexander's.

During this year-end, there are fewer parties and the mood is sombre. The global economic woes and the terrible events of Mumbai just a month back have cast a pall of gloom. Hopefully, the worst is behind us, and the New Year will bring good cheer. I expect to ring in the New Year at home with family.

For Christmas, I brought home a freshly baked loaf of Stollen along with the mandatory Plum Cake. This German fruitcake, a Christmas speciality, is made of candied orange-peel, rum-soaked raisins, almonds, other dry fruits, and covered with powdered sugar.

Xmas Stollen and Plum CakeIncidentally, this cake is the centerpiece of an annual festival in Dresden, when a Stollen cake weighing between 3-4 pounds is baked and carted to the Christmas market where it is ceremonially cut into pieces and given to people. They anoint an 'Stollen Maid' who ceremonially leads the festivities and the parade before the cake is cut. Here are some pictures from this year of Dresden bakers creating the mammoth cake, the ceremonial knife and the Stollen Maid of 2008. (Pictures courtesy: Stollenfest)

Baking the Gaint Stollen in Dresden
Sttollen Maid Dresden
Stollenfest DresdenThe Stollen turned out quite amazing. I bought this fruitcake at Just Baked, located on Dhole Patil Road.

Wish you all a Very Happy Holiday Season and An Exciting 2009!

32 comments:

Radhika said...

Shantanu...Wish you a very Happy 2009 too! We do follow your reviews on Pune's restaurants all the time ( Actually,thanks for that :) ) ! And thank you for visiting our blog..

HAREKRISHNAJI said...

Shantanu,

In 2008 we too have traveled and enriched ourselves to the places you have mentioned, thru your eyes, thru your blog. We enjoyed each and every post you have written about food and travel.

Wish you a very Happy 2009 and expecting more blogs on travel more culinary adventures

Sig said...

What a fab year you've had! Here's to an even more fabulous 2009 filled with fun, travel and great food!

Aathira said...

That sounds like an amazing year that you and your family had.

Wish you all a happy new year.

Anu said...

hey shantanu wish you and your family a wonderful 2009..

a very happy new year to all :)

Shalini Gowrisankar said...

It's good to see 2008 has given you some woderful experiences in variuos parts of the world, hope you get more of them in 2009 as well..

Wishing you and your family a happy, prosperous and an exciting 2009 :)

GMG said...

Hi Shantanu! Great blog you have here! Loved to see that you had a great travelling 2008. Wish that 2009 would be much better than we can anticipate… ;)
Thanks for your comment on Blogtrotter, now visiting the Red Fort in Delhi. Hope you enjoy and have a great week!

Shantanu said...

@All: Thank you very much!

Zhu said...

You should write your own food guide, seriously!

Shantanu said...

@Zhu: Thank you! I will keep that in mind. :)

kyh said...

Oh wow, you've been to so many places in one year! I'm jealous!

Thank you for the lovely travel stories for guys like me who hardly have the chance to travel far away from home. :)

Happy 2009!

Shantanu said...

@kyh: Thank you, my friend!

Lakshmi said...

Happy New Year Shantanu..you have taken me to places far and wide and I have enjoyed every place with you including your culinary journeys..(tho veg only :)) By the way, Bill Bryson is one of my favourites as well ..

Indrani said...

Happy New Year to you too!
You travel a lot, do you eat a lot too? If yes, lucky you!

Shantanu said...

@Lakshmi: Thanks. I will try to add some veggies to my diet. :)

@Indrani: Oh yes, I do!

GMG said...

Hi Shantanu! Hope you survived the food and the champagne, and entered 2009 in great shape! ;))
Happy New Year!

Blogtrotter is posting on Delhi's Qutb Minar; lots to see… Hope you like it and wish you a great weekend!

Wendy said...

What amazing travels you had in 2008. Hope you have many more in 2009. Happy New Year!

Shantanu said...

@GMG, Wendy: Thank you very much!

Deepti said...

Happy new year shantanu .. and hope 2009 ushers in more gastronomical dlights in to your plate :)

Sandeepa said...

Wishing you a great year ahead with more travelling, food, family and fun

Vijayendra Darode said...

Hey Shantanu, I would like you to review the new oriental hotel in Kothrud/Karvenagar side called Xia.

Its located in the lane of Dixit Petrol Pump in Kothrud. The owner already has two best hotels under his belt --- Kiva (Range Hills) and Kiva Lounge (KP).

Waiting for your review.

Shantanu said...

@deepti: Thank you!

@Sandeepa: Thanks and good to see you back here after quite some time.

@Vijayendra: I will certainly add that one to my list. There aren't many good restaurants left for me to try, and given the economic situation, I am not expecting many new ones to start.

Nandan Jha said...

I was blog surfing when I found this. Haven't read much but would do, it all looks very tempting.

When you have time, please visit www.ghumakkar.com where lot of ghumakkars share their travel stories.

best wishes for New Year.

Kalyan said...

Happy New Year Shantanu. It seems last year was a real treat for you. I have started reading travel books of late and in any bookshop I enquire about such books - Bill Bryson is the name that is suggested first. I wonder when will have such a good Travel Writer in English from India. Do you know any?

Chris said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Shantanu said...

@Nandan: Thank you for pointing me to this site. Some of the posts are very interesting!

@Kalyan: Hmm...Pico Iyer?

beaverboosh said...

Hope your 2009 is as profilic as your 2008, if not more! Thank you for the time and dedication to sharing your wold with us!

HAREKRISHNAJI said...

No take off for 2009 ?

Shantanu said...

@beaverboosh: Thank you my friend! Your posts have always brought a smile in 2008, and I look forward to your updates eagerly this year too.

Shantanu said...

@harekrishnaji: You wrote in just as I was getting ready to post! Thank you for your constant support.

indicaspecies said...

That's a neat list of the places you were in 2008. My best wishes for a great 2009 and looking forward to see the world through your blog too.:)

Shantanu said...

@indicaspecies: Thank you for the wishes!