2019 was an interesting year in the food department, introducing baby B to solid food for the first time and learning to navigate our food exploration journey as a family of three. The first half of the year had a pretty high delivery bill, but by the end of the year, we were back to meal planning. I'm even considering going back to (a selective version of) the 52 week cooking challenge next year. Anyway, here's our year in review, since it was largely undocumented on this blog.
The first restaurant meal we ate in 2019: We didn't go out to restaurants that much until the spring since baby B was so small and it was still flu season, but the first restaurant meal out was at Blaze Pizza in mid-January. First delivery was a delicious Turkish dinner from Istanbul Bay with lots of dips, spreads, and adana.
The first home-cooked meal we ate in 2019: Technically, the first thing we cooked was an egg and salsa scramble with some Trader Joe's hash browns, but that's not a very exciting answer. As I wrote in an end of February post about a new gnocchi recipe, we hadn't done much beyond basic cooking or familiar recipes until that dish. We largely prioritized convenience until the late summer and fall, which coincided with when we started to cook dinners for all three of us, which are hopefully more nutritious and less processed. It also takes a little more thought now not just about nutrition, but because we can't rely on easy egg-based dinners.
The last restaurant meal we ate in 2019: Family lunch at Qdoba. They have a quesadilla kids meal that is perfect for baby B, and we got our usual bowls, piled high with rice, chicken, veggies, and guacamole. Last takeout/delivery of the year was a sandwich and lunch bowl from the Family Store in Bay Ridge, one of our favorite spots.
The last home-cooked meal we ate in 2019: Chinese home cooking! A made his family's scallion pancakes along with some homestyle chicken with peppers and onions. We haven't been able to explore much Chinese food with baby B (more on allergies below), but he loved his dinner, so it looks like we'll be doing more Chinese home cooking in the new year!
# of different restaurants we tried in 2019 (together and separate): 107 spots in-person, 45 takeout and delivery places.
Places explored (outside the NYC metro area): Philadelphia, PA. We mostly stayed local this year.
Tofu salad from Rangoon in Philadelphia
Most frequented restaurant of 2019 (together): The most times we ate at any given restaurant this year was three, and that was four different places - two Chinese restaurants for family dinners (Affable Eatery and Mang Tang Hung), Qdoba, and Tairyo Japanese Fusion. As far as takeout and delivery go, two spots local to us - Pier 69 Market and Grand Sichuan House - led the pack.
Salmon teriyaki lunch special from Tairyo
Progress on WorldEats challenge: We didn't write any more posts for WorldEats this year, but continued to explore when we could. So the count is still 58/196, but we've been to more. Next year, hopefully, will bring at least some new posts on this front.
Favorite overall meal of 2019: Our first visit to Saravanaa Bhavan in Murray Hill with baby B in the fall. We were just going out for dinner and planning to give him some cereal and puffs, but while there, we thought that maybe we'd try giving him some uthappam since it's fairly soft, even though the one we ordered was covered in tons of onions and peas. He absolutely loved it and kept wanting more, so we've been back several times since then, each time amazed by his love for all the new foods (and also his tolerance for spice at such a young age). It helped that it's a restaurant that doesn't have any eggs in the kitchen, since baby B is allergic. It's hard dining out, especially at small spots, when you have no idea how a kitchen is set up, whether anyone really understands how to handle food allergies (we've learned from many family dinners out at Chinese restaurants that there really are some significant barriers with that), and how much of a risk cross-contamination is. We're thankful that we've been able to find places to go that let us still explore as a family but also keep B safe.
As A put it when we were discussing our favorite meal of the year for this year, "We've had so many amazing eating experiences, and everything is new for him. For him, everything is brand new, and seeing that excitement and that joy for him makes this all worth it, because we've done most of these things already on our own. Food is such an important part of our lives before him. For him to love and appreciate it as much as we do, it's a beautiful thing." That's definitely what we found as we dined out at Saravanaa that first time and every time after, and that's what made this meal so special for us as a family.
Can't believe it's the eve of a new decade. Hoping 2020 brings everyone health, happiness, and delicious food!