Kaszeta's 2012 in Review

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2012/12/18 14:39:55 (permalink)

Kaszeta's 2012 in Review

Like the last two years, I figure it was good to do a year in review thread.
This year started out slowly: for a variety of reasons I did almost no travel the first three months of the year, and originally thought 2012 might be a mild year for me.  That said, as I'm sitting here now, I've visited and written up 112 places this year (see the full list here), and the year's not even over yet (I'm slated to visit Buffalo, Detroit, and Cleveland in the next 10 days)!.  Here's a nice Google Maps breakdown:

What started as a slow year turned into quite a few trips (9 US states and four foreign countries):
  1. A trip to Quebec City for the Winter Carnival
  2. A trip to Chicago for this year's Death March (read the full trip report here)
  3. A repeat trip to Austin, TX for more BBQ and food carts
  4. Several day trips to NYC and Montreal courtesy of Dartmouth College's After Hours employee program
  5. Accompanying my partner to a conference in San Antonio
  6. A work trip to the Arizona dessert to test things for work in hot climates
  7. The Iceland Trip (an entire thread of its own)
  8. A trip to Frankfurt, Germany, hitting London again on the way home
  9. A trip to Minnesota to give an invited talk, and visit some old haunts.
That, and a lot of local exploration made for a very busy year (and uncountably many calories!).
So, let me start off with the local attractions.  2012 was a rather good year for our local area (the Upper Valley region of VT/NH).  In late 2011 or 2012, we had several new places open up, including Cantore's Pizza (West Lebanon, NH), The Lebanon Diner (Lebanon, NH), Worthy Burger (South Royalton, VT), and 3 Guys Basement BBQ (Hanover, NH).  For our area, that's a lot of new restaurants, and the results varied:
Cantore's Pizza (if the name sounds familiar, it's owned by the brother of the Weather Channel's meteorologist Jim Cantore) opened up in late 2011 (review here, and they've been a very good addition to the local pizza scene.  While pizza slices don't always photograph well, the slices I've had there all have the basic qualities I look for in a good New York style slice: A fairly thin crust (I do think they go a little thin) with a really good amount of toasting from the oven, a sauce that’s primarily tasting of tomatoes and not salt or sugar (not overwhelming the crust), decent mozzarella cheese amply applied, and a good selection of quality cold cuts and veggies for toppings:

The Lebanon Diner (review here) added to downtown Lebanon something that's been lacking for decades: a decent breakfast spot.  While they were off to a bit of a rough start, after a bit they caught their stride, and both the CBH and the Biscuits and Gravy are made in-house, and are both quite good.  Here's a pic of their very flavorful biscuits and gravy:

Worthy Burger (review here) was one of the most-anticipated local restaurants we've had in years, and opened up a combination beer and burger bar featuring regional beers and good burgers.  The beer list was a phenomenal success from the start, as were their tallow-cooked fries.  The burgers started off a bit rougher (they grill them over wood, which is a bit of a challenge to get right), but my latest kimchi and Vermont cheddar burger was one of the best burgers of the year (although later in the thread I'll talk about some even better burgers...):

3 Guys Basement BBQ (review here) was also a highly-anticipated restaurant, and has generally been well received, like the vast majority of "New England BBQ" places, I was skeptical... and somewhat rightly so.  Their brisket was decent.  The pulled pork wasn't, resembling some sort of ill-conceived spaghetti dish.  But their smoked bacon was quite enjoyable.  So while my primary approach to getting BBQ will be to head to a part of the country where they have some inkling of what BBQ should actually beer, 3 Guy's Brisket and Bacon will serve as some decent methadone for my BBQ addictions:

That's it for now, I'll cover a few other local places next, and then start with the highlights of the various trips.

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