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  • Jennifer

...Ginger and Jasmine "Bon Appetit"

I finish this first blog year with a famous opening line – “It all started when…” And that it did. Picture it – January 2004. “It all started when” two sisters hopped in the car, on New Year’s night, and drove to little Bangkok Gardens – a quaint “Yaley” Thai restaurant located just a stone’s throw away from the storied New Haven Green.

The night was dark, frigid. They could see their breath as they fumbled for pocket-change to pay the sidewalk parking meter. But, tucked away inside, just a few minutes later – they were in culinary paradise.

It was coconut shrimp, hot and sour soup, curried chicken, and delectable bamboo chutes cooked to perfection. Ginger wafted out of the restaurant’s kitchen like jasmine permeating those ancient Babylon Gardens. They then finished with hot (very hot!) Thai tea – it sang of coziness, and centuries-old folklore touting Asian long-life. They ate, and laughed, and soaked up the night like midnight blooming flowers. You guessed it – I was one of those sisters.

It was the start of something fun – for on that night, my sister and I vowed to embark on a culinary “restaurant review” journey once a month for the entire 2004. We would be in search of the “best and brightest” cuisine – or at least “interesting.”

It was “It’s Only Natural” in Middletown (best organic sweet potato fries I’ve eaten to date). Then there was “Sandra’s” in New Haven – soul food Southern fare that melted in your mouth. I still daydream of black-eyed peas, corn muffins, and a big ol’ glass of iced tea (unsweetened!). There was also La Estancia Argentine restaurant in Stamford – a particularly memorable restaurant experience as this August 2004 outing coincided with my first trip to Argentina. I was heading there with my job that very month.

At the end of the year, I had a notebook full of restaurant reviews. For me, I wanted my reviews to be unique. They were about capturing an “experience” – a moment involving food and ambiance, of course, but also conversation, laughter, the state of the world that my sister and I were living in at that time, and the state of our sisterhood. Thus, it was a fascinatingly fun (and scrumptious!) experiment in “time-capsule" gastronomy.

I then bought a pretty indigo blue portfolio at a bustling stationery store on West 57th in Manhattan (one of the last remaining stationery stores before the “digital deluge” started replacing print publishing.) I typed up the reviews, meticulously placed them in the portfolio, and added a “culinary” graphic to the cover. Voila. I titled the book – “Bon Appetit.”

And that’s how I feel about this blog. Life can be hard – like a stale cookie left under a dusty, forgotten footstool. (Whoa! Frown much?) But, as a wise person once said, it will always be the simple pleasures, like sharing a meal with a loved one, that truly make life worthwhile. “Bon Appetit, my friends." Thank you for reading my blog this first year. And here’s to a wonderful 2017.

This post is dedicated to my sister Wendy who (unintentionally!) inspired me to launch this blog way back in 2004. Thank you for asking me for recommendations on food, films, and travel. It's been so much fun sharing all of these "arts & culture" moments with you. And here's to many more!

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