Friday, January 1, 2010

2009 Year in Review

I'll admit, it's not exactly correct to write a Year in Review post when this blog hasn't even be active for that long, but neither did it seem right to simply let 2009 end without a word. It's been a busy year for me, one that included some significant changes, and I wanted to share some of my favorite discoveries from the past 12 months. In a sense, this is my "Year's Best" list, though I'll say up front that not everything on this list was new in 2009 - simply new to me.

So here they are, in strange and random categories. The Year's Best...

Chocolate. This one is actually a tie. Back in July, I visited Laughing Moon chocolates in Stowe, and was soon introduced to the delights of Chipotle and Cinnamon dark chocolate. Not to be outdone, a friend of mine gifted me with Vosges Japanese Matcha Green Tea deep milk chocolate. Both are amazing, though Laughing Moon earns points for being Vermont based (while Vosges is based out of Chicago).

Wine Event. Hands down, this goes to the Wednesday Wine Down, every Wednesday from 4:30-8:00 at Drink (hosted by The Burlington Wine Shop). For $10, you get four tastings paired with artisan cheeses and chocolates (from Laughing Moon, in fact). It's a fantastic deal, and hardly a week goes by that I don't find some new wine to love and take home.

Concert. The Decemberists concert at the Flynn was absolutely mind-blowing. The Neko Case concert (also at the Flynn) was a close second.

This year also went a long way toward confirming my dislike of Higher Ground as a venue. While I did go to one really fantastic seated show (Myra Flynn and Gregory Douglass), I think what sums HG up best is something a friend of mine said: "The shows you see in the main auditorium have to be so energetic or so mind-blowing that you can forget that you're standing on a concrete floor for two-plus hours". I would also add that straining to hear the music over the endless chatter of other ticket-holders doesn't improve the experience. (On a personal note, having a knee-cap with two screws holding it together does make the two-hours standing on concrete a bit more difficult to ignore.)

Local Music. This is a tough one. I saw a lot of great local acts this year, quite a bit more than in previous years. I guess there are two events that stand out for me: the first was an Inauguration Party show at Half Lounge way back in January. It was my first introduction to Andrew Parker-Renga (who I wrote about in my last post) and Zach duPont - and inspired me to catch many of their performances since. The second event that really comes to mind was Myra Flynn's release party for her CD Crooked Measures, held at the FlynnSpace back in June, and featuring some great performances by Myra herself, Justin Levinson, and Julia Brown.

Food Experience. This one goes to Bluebird Tavern. Whether you love or hate their eclectic style of food, it will certainly leave an impression on you.

Charity Event. The Red Ribbon Rally in September. I joined a crowed of people in red t-shirts that formed a giant red ribbon (see photos here). All proceeds to Vermont CARES.

Haunted Something. The Haunted Trail in Grand Isle. It's $5 and it's amazing. Also, you should read the story behind its inception. This is actually my second year going, but I felt it deserved this award anyway.

Place to Escape Vermont in Winter. Tuscon, Arizona. I went in March and, barring the black widow spider bite, it was actually a phenomenal and inexpensive trip. (Incidentally, the "Worst of 2009" award definitely goes to black widow spiders...)

Sporting Events That Don't Get Much Press. As a hockey fan, I ought to be priveleged to live in Vermont and see the UVM team play...except the tickets are expensive and difficult to get, not to mention that the traffic associated with parking at Gutterson is a nightmare. So this year, I paid a mere $5 per ticket to go see the St. Michael's College men's team play at Cairn's Arena on Dorset Street in South Burlington. For a fraction of the UVM ticket cost, I was able to happily sip hot chocolate and watch one of my favorite sports.

Hopefully 2010 will bring even more new experiences for me around the Burlington area, and my New Year's resolution is to be more diligent about sharing those experiences here!