Here we are at the end of another year — Jess and I couldn’t have asked for a busier, crazier, better one than this one just finished. When 2012 began, Arkansas Foodies was a small blog just finishing its first full year of existence, and Jess and I were an engaged couple trying to make gourmet food in a tiny apartment kitchen down in Saline County. Of course, small kitchens aren’t a detriment to good cooking — take a look at the Smitten Kitchen sometime and see the size of her kitchen! In addition to our cooking, we attended festivals, saw the food truck scene deal with some growing pains, and tried to bring all of you honest, informative restaurant reviews and foodie news. In March of 2012, Jess and I began working for the Arkansas Times, providing restaurant reviews and pictures for both their weekly print edition as well as becoming one of the main contributors to their Eat Arkansas blog. Suddenly, this plucky little blog began drawing all sorts of traffic, and we got to know all sorts of people in the Little Rock food scene (moving up here into the middle of things helped).
Of course, the main excitement that happened in 2012 (even more exciting than winning Runner-up for Best Blog and Best Website from the Times’ Reader’s Choice Awards) was the fact that after a long engagement, Jess and I got married. We had a small, elegant ceremony at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Hot Springs, followed by a fantastic week in Seattle for our honeymoon — something that’s old news to all of you regular readers. We also got to know a lot of our fellow food writers, first at our jamon iberico tasting at Hillcrest Artisan Meats and then through a series of lunches that saw me, my Eat Arkansas partner Dan Walker, and Kevin Shalin of The Mighty Rib eating everything from Southwest Little Rock barbecue to French bistro food in the Heights. We laughed, we scoffed, we certainly got indigestion — and I couldn’t ask for a better lunch crew, nor better dinner companions than Kevin and his wife Sara and Dan with his wife Lindsey.
So here, at the end of the year, when people tend to reflect, I must ask: did I learn anything? I learned that new friends can come sometimes when you least expect them, and that old friends are the people who never give up no matter what. I learned that my family loves me even more than I thought they did, and that they’ll do anything in their power to keep Jess and me safe and happy. I learned pimento cheese is a lot more popular in Arkansas than in Texas, that dermatologists can talk mad game about foie gras, and that a growler from Vino’s is a welcome guest at any dinner party. Lastly, I learned that there are a lot of you out there, and you teach me about food every single day. Thank you all for reading, and from Jess and me: Have a wonderful and happy New Year! Cheers.