Umami’s Best Stories and Recipes from 2016

Umami’s Best Stories and Recipes from 2016

The nice thing about writing wrap-up articles is it gives you an opportunity to take a look back at the past year and see what you’ve done with your time.  A lot of our work at Umami is in small bites; it’s a simple recipe here, a longer story there, and lots and lots of time trying to make and all of our social media channels interesting and informative.

All of which makes it hard to keep track of where you’ve spent your time and what you’ve gotten done.  Which is why I try to take some time at the end of each year to look back to see what we did, what people read, and what they liked enough to share with others.

Our Most Popular New Recipes

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that our most popular new recipes for 2016 came from a few of our favorite food groups, namely cheesy, BBQ, and dessert.  This included a Cheesy Hash Brown Casserole loaded with enough gooey cheese that it could keep a small dairy running and a Potato Frittata that uses mascarpone and cheddar like they’re going out of style.

People climbed right into the hot tub with our Sous Vide Brisket and lit up their smokers with our Mesquite Smoked BBQ Pork Ribs and Homemade Bacon. We even tried to make Bacon Infused BBQ Ribs a thing, but the internet let us down.

Sauce being painted on BBQ Ribs
Sauce being painted on BBQ Ribs

The thing people really loved to share was our Rhubarb Cake recipe, which makes sense if you’ve tried it.  We also wrote about a Strawberry Pie so good it’s worth scheduling time on your calendar to make at the beginning of strawberry season.

There’s Nothing Like a Good Read

We love good writing that entertains and informs. What’s even better is when we accidentally do it ourselves. There’s something renewing about writing a story like Falling for the Harriet Brasserie that is about finding a place you love. Just as it can be rewarding to spend the time learning where Umami, the flavor, comes from and be able to explain it in What is Umami – The History of the Fifth Flavor.

The mantra at the Harriet is that a dish should fall into place naturally
The mantra at the Harriet is that a dish should fall into place naturally

We do love to have fun, whether we’re exploring Canada’s long-standing and little-known fear of invading Americans in There’s Something Americans Should Know About Spending Time in Canada or trying to find a nugget of humor in the presidential election with How to Get Through the Holidays Without Talking About the Election. We try very hard not to take ourselves too seriously.

If the world was our oyster, most of us at Umami would spend our time traveling the world, writing about the interesting things we find along the way.  This year we were lucky enough to travel three thousand miles across Canada to Explore the Lived-In History of Old Quebec and head south of the equator Discovering a Shore Thing at Lake Titicaca.

We also started our At the Table interview series with chefs like Doug Flicker and Michelle Gayer and exciting food writers like Marc Matsumoto and Jason Logsdon.

Is It Really Day Drinking If It’s for Work

One of the best things about cocktails is all the great ones, and lots of the mediocre ones, come with a legend on the side. In Why the Cuba Libré Hates Being Called a Rum and Coke we wrote about how people try to tie Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders to the Cuba Libré and in The Mysterious History of the Margarita we wrote about the murky connection between the margarita and Peggy Lee.  Mythical stories shrouded in late nights are why we love to write about cocktails almost as much as we like to drink them.

Pouring the Coke into an Old Fashioned Cuba Libre
Pouring the Coke into an Old Fashioned Cuba Libre

The thing with writing about cocktails is that you need to be ok with drinking by yourself in the middle of the day.  At least if you believe, like we do, in the importance of testing recipes before publishing them and encouraging everyone to drink them.

If you don’t believe me just give our Boulevardier or Blood Orange Aperol Collins recipes a try, preferably just after lunch in a big conference room with enough booze for everyone in the office. And if you’re unfortunate enough to work somewhere that doesn’t condone day drinking, just blame it on us.

We Also Have a Serious Side  

It’s not all fun and games here at Umami. At the core of what we’re trying to do is learn as much as we can about everything happening in the world of food, whether it’s where our food comes from or how to cook it and share what we learn in an accessible and entertaining way with everyone.  One of the most interesting ways we did this last year was through Eileen’s Better Eating with Umami stories about practical ways families can eat better.

We were also very excited to have Daniel Swenson-Klatt join us as a contributor to write about what it’s like to run a neighborhood café focused on sustainability and community building. If you’ve ever thought about running your own coffee shop, are interested in sustainability, or are a fan of very good writing Daniel’s Walking the Green Path articles should be destination reading.

Thanks for Reading

I wanted to take a moment to say thank you to everyone who took the time to read one of our stories or make one of our recipes.  When you start to write all you want to do is write, once you realize how much work it is and all you want is someone to read it.  Which is why we deeply appreciate all of the notes of encouragement and social media shares.  Please keep it up and help us grow Umami.

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