Anniversary, Part 2
I don’t like to beat a dead horse, but there’s still actually quite a bit that we’re excited about, now that we’ve turned 1 whole year old. We covered some of the highlights already, but before we depart from the subject, I would love to touch on a few more.
I would love to, mind you, except for two problems:
1. When I came to open up the notes I had taken on what they were, they have been obliterated totally. All week, I have been staring at the little icon on my Mac activity taskbar thinger-doo, occasionally even clicking on it to make sure everything was still there. And what did I find today? A carefully preserved, well-maintained and entirely blank document.
SWEET. Yes, yes, you bloggers who come and read the site. I know: Save everything, and then save it again, and then back it up just to be safe. But you’d think that you could trust your generally-untouched home computer not to lose the contents of a basic text document for four days, right? Wrong-o!
2. Tina has a steel trap of a memory. Aside from some really basic scrawling in a ring-bound book I gave her, she basically conjures her entries entirely based on memory of things that I’m not sure she even learned personally — she recalls so much about random things that I am convinced her memory is so good, she remembers things other people know. One day I’m certain that she’s going to be called upon to land a 747, do it effortlessly, and then impeccably command a cavalry charge against the airline for good measure.
As a consequence, she endures my bumbling, foggy efforts with a sort of gentle charity. To wit:
“Hey babe, I’m going to the liquor store, did you want something?”
“No thanks, but on your way home could you pick up some plastic wrap?”
(fast forward to an hour later)
“Holy wow, Tina, did you know that they have wine coolers now? I bought a hundred.”
“Did you remember the plastic wrap, maybe?”
“… I’m sorry.”
So if she were here with me now, I could count on her to look at me blankly and not only produce the other five items we wanted to cover, but possibly recreate our entire brainstorming session verbatim… while landing a jet aircraft and making sure the warhorses were ready to go.
However! She is out galavanting around, “enjoying life”, which leaves it to me to pathetically scrape around the corners of my brain. To that end, it might be wise to consider these our second top five with a little star next to them, thus:
Five More Great Things About Our First Year*
*as far as Mike can remember, cut the guy a break
6. The Print Button
Yeah, I know, not exactly the most sexy thing you can think of to get worked up over. “Hey Mike, what else gets you all misty-eyed? Italic font?”
Still, when I found the nifty little plug-in that let me stick a little “Print This” option on our articles, I felt a wee bit proud of myself. As a site that desperately wants other people to love food as much as we do, and to share the adventures that we have in discovering the gems (and occasional disasters… and cocktails), it felt good to give people an easy way to take our recipes with them.
And, let’s face it, and thrilled us all to bits when we saw people actually using it. The day that I figured out how we could watch to see what people were printing was a glorious one in Tina’s life, and to this day whenever I go pull up the information, she makes me read every single one of them to her. Sometimes the recipes you choose surprise us, sometime they validate us, and sometimes they just puzzle the hell out of us.
For example, in 2009 alone the most printed articles were:
- Baked Jalapeno Poppers
- Garlic and Halloumi Pull-Aparts
- Cuban Sweet Potato Salad
- Brewsday: Wychwood Bah Humbug Guest-Starring Ebeneezer Scrooge
- Mediterranean Salad with Israeli Couscous
Anyone notice something weird in there? Perhaps one of those things doing the wrong thing? One that doesn’t belong?
Yeah, I think it’s kind of weird too — but literally dozens of people have printed off my generally insane article where I consulted with Ebeneezer Scrooge to review a beer based on him. There were guest appearances by Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer and the Abominable Snowman too, but I gotta say that cannot be enough to justify this seeing print so many times.
Yukon Cornelius? Okay, fair enough. That guy is kickass.
I can pretend that our vacation to Europe was about getting away and spending some time together, exploring an entirely different place with only each other as company, discovering just how well we worked together when our only companionship was each other. Sometimes, I close my eyes and pretend that was what it was really about.
But who are we kidding, really? It was about the food.
In every city we visited, down every street we walked, and even in every train station we sat and waited, there was never a missed opportunity to try the food. Nary a cheese counter, a fresh market, a supermarket, a cafe or a cart was missed on our strolls through Paris, Lyon, Marseille (shudder) or Dijon — ever a fearless experimenter, Tina would find cheeses that were imbued with liquor, grown in ungodly places, crafted of terrifying textures, and find a way to get me to try them all.
Over the course of our lives, I’m certain that I’ll meet many people who’ve been to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa, or who went up the Eiffel Tower, or who saw the rolling hills in Provence. But the gastronomic tour that Tina took me on brought me to places I would never have tried, experiences I would never have attempted, and let us put it all together to share with you.
Without that spirit, we’d have never sat at the little cafe on Pont Wilson.
Without it, we’d have never gotten to utter the delicious promise, “I’ll meet you in Paris for dinner.”
8. THIS SNACK SUCKS
Sometimes it’s a war cry.
Sometimes it’s a public service announcement.
Sometimes, it’s even a pleasant surprise.
But even though they’re not always the most enjoyable to experience, I have to say that they’re the most fun to write. And nothing brings food-lovers together like something that so cruelly betrays our bad faith as a bad, awful snack. Terrible snacks are like punching Christmas itself in the stomach, and then putting Baby New Year in woolen diaper. They are an abomination.
Together we can stop them, and man did we ever get off to a good start.
9. Garlic and Halloumi Pull-Aparts
Yes sir, say hello to the most popular article that we have ever published.
The only thing more fun to write about a snack that sucks is one that totally rules, and even that hard-rocking statement doesn’t pay proper tribute to these little balls of bready-cheesy goodness. Borne of Tina’s appreciation of the Dough Therapy method of stress relief (summed up simply: “The more you knead, the less you want to kill”), and carried through with the perfect application of a cheese so salty that even I have a hard time with it, this rocketed to the kind of success we simply didn’t think was available to our ilk.
Let’s put it another way: I have only been taken off the internet one other time, and that was more the result of a letter from a lawyer than anything else. But these little babies knocked us clear off the map, so many of you loved them, and it remains one of the most popular articles to this day.
Which is appropriate, I think. This little recipe embodies everything I think we want to accomplish: trying something new and different (stringy Arab cheese), combining it with something basic and inexpensive (baking your own buns), and coming out with a result you can be proud to serve anyone. It makes us both so proud to know how many people have tried and enjoyed them, and gives us a boost every time we think about it.
We’re not entirely sure what we set out to do when we first thought of writing an article about this particularly weak-assed, sad example of a pre-mixed cocktail. It might have been an easy target, in our minds; perhaps we just figured people ought to know that if they had twenty bucks to spend at the liquor store, there was a world of options that were preferable to this one (except for Cloud 9 — Christ, don’t get me started on that).
What we didn’t intend to do, however, was totally hijack the entire internet. Back in the first part of this article, I mentioned how proud I was of grabbing ahold of the term “Jennifer Aniston’s Nipples” on Google and not letting go for a surprising amount of time. Then it was Laura Calder, thanks to a dedicated following of guys who clearly are not watching Food Network for the recipes.
But with Smirnoff Tuscan Lemonade (flavored with real limoncello, for no reason I can think of!), we have captured not only the top spot on Google for the product’s name, but also for five or six other searches that describe it. It’s not that we’re the only ones who’ve written about the product, it’s just that for whatever reason we’ve done it in such a search-engine friendly way that it’s probably ruining the career of someone in Smirnoff’s new media marketing division right this instant.
Hubris, you say? Perhaps, but then behold the hilariously contrived comment we received within a day of posting:
well guys and girls, i see all your chritism of smirnoff and this product and really couldnt dissagree more. i think your taking this way overboard.. if you guys would take the time to do your 15 minutes of research you would realize that these prducts are for the home consumer not for the “cocktail” snob. they are a product to make life a little easier when you have company and personally i think they are a great idea and can tell you the they are all doing very well with the average consumers and have actually expanded consumer tastes when out in a fine cockatail estblishment. thus improving the cocktail culure.. so why dont you guys just cool out and pick on all the other shit products out there like like grey goose and belevedere.. talk about a travisty.. you guys probably think grey goose is amazing..lol joke
Hmmm, can’t spell words like “cocktail” or “criticism” or “disagree.” Can offer insights into how product positioning is faring with the “average consumer” and how key items like Tuscan Lemonade have “expanded consumer tastes when out in a fine cocktail establishment”, eh?
Insanely, this article is consistently the second-most visited item on our site on a daily basis right now, following whatever new article we might happen to have published. I cannot imagine what influence we might have had over potential customers of the product — considering our review is written by a fictional region of geography, I’m going to guess not a whole bunch — but it absolutely never fails to blow our minds, and (honestly) crack us up.
First Runner-Up: The Villian
Damn, man — how large a set of triceps must a man possess before he can get a popular article! Sweet Mary!
If it isn’t obvious by now, the most important thing we’d like to say is how much we’ve loved doing this so far — the recipes, the adventures, the totally baffling weirdness, and the chance to entertain all of you. Thanks for these first twelve months, and we can’t wait to bring you more this coming year!