Best of this-and-that    

31 Dec

31 December 2022.

Inevitably we are bombarded with “best of” lists and year-end compilations. If you hate these lists, just stop now because I am going to assault you with mine. I would love it, however, if you would respond with some of your favorites. They might become mine in 2023.

Best Book

Recently, I tried to recommend my favorite book of 2022 to someone and found myself perplexed: I have several I enjoyed so very much I had the devil of a time picking one.

Goodreads tells me I read only 32 books this year, 11,921 pages, ranging from travel books (5) to mysteries (12), and assorted fiction (15). Goodreads does not have a log of my cookbooks, but I know I read two new ones cover-to-cover for inspiration.

No single genre nor author shot to the top, rather my list is of entirely different specimens.

Tied for top book of 2022: Horse by Geraldine Brooks, West with Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge, and Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr. I think Gayle recommended all of these to me. I shall heed her every word on books to read.

Runners Up:  Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig, and A Gentleman in Moscow and The Lincoln Highway, both by Amor Towles.

Best Picture

We watch a lot of movies. Some are forgotten as soon as they finish. Some of my 2022 favorites are much older than 2022. We aren’t necessary current in our viewing so thank goodness for streaming.

The Fabelmans tops my list.This one will stay with me awhile and we will rewatch it soon. The acting, the script, the arc of the story, and the truth in this movie come together in a rewarding manner.

Others of merit: She Said (gripping!), The Outfit (Mark Rylance), Nobody (Bob Odenkirk), and Vice (Christian Bale as Dick Cheney is a transformation to behold).

Best TV Series

We have a real weakness for great series. While none of these will make my all-time top-10 series list, they are excellent entertainment and far better than network series. Not included are series that are ongoing that we started in years past like Vera, Shetland, Better Call Saul.

The following are in alphabetical order as I cannot pick a favorite.

Alaska Daily: Hilary Swank as an investigative reporter. Cliffhanger on season one. Will there be a season two?

For All Mankind: Alternative history drama about the space program starting in the 1960s. Particularly interesting to those of us who lived through the era. Awaiting season 4.

Gaslit: Julia Roberts as Martha Mitchell and Sean Penn as John Mitchell in another stunning transformation.

Grace: We are suckers for British detective dramas. Season 3 is due out soon.

Inside Man: Stanley Tucci and David Tennant. Too bad it was only a mini-series.

Karen Pirie: Another British detective drama but aimed at a younger market than most. Thoroughly enjoyable.

The Restaurant: This is an outlier. I have two seasons under my belt and am looking forward to the final 10 episodes. In Swedish, with subtitles, so demands attention but extremely well-done with interesting characters.

Best Meal

Ahhh, so many good ones! Sazón in Santa Fe, Recipe A Neighborhood Kitchen in Newberg, and Tina’s in Dundee. But the standout for me was in Geneva at Boccadasse: Italian food cooked by Italians in Switzerland. It was the last night of our fall trip and we feasted on octopus with potato puree, Vermentino (one of our favorite wines with seafood), seafood pasta, and semifreddo. Absolute heaven and so memorable!

Polpo con crema di patate
Semifreddo. There was no sharing.

Best New Recipe

Slow-cooker Shrimp in Purgatory. OMG is this good! New to us this year, it is on the list for frequent repetition.

Best New-to-us Hike

Rifugio Emilio Comici to Mont di Sëura in the Alpe di Siusi. This was a difficult hike for us with a 900 foot descent, beyond what we usually do, but so terribly rewarding in that we did it. We self-congratulated for hours.

Looking back over the trail we hiked.

Best Urban Walk/Hike:

Mount Tabor. I had not been up on Mount Tabor in over 10 years so revisiting with my walking buddy, Grier, was a delight in rediscovering the area. Grier and I also hiked the Alameda Ridge in spring, which is a contender for Great Urban Walks. Thanks to Laura O. Foster’s books on Portland walks we are still discovering treks even after 30+ years living here.

Best Household Improvement: Molly & Sven joined us in January and March, respectively. Such a joy to have their lively selves cavorting about the house, even if they do want breakfast waayyyy too early.

Happiest of New Years to everyone! Tell me, what were your “bests” in 2022?

11 Responses to “Best of this-and-that    ”

  1. Tammy May 18, 2023 at 13:00 #

    I’m going to connect with you on Goodreads. Tammy. Diveloonie on RS forum.
    I’m a super picky reader and don’t read much in the way of books, because like you I am either reading travel blogs or the RS forum, or a travel guidebook, or planning our next trip or scrapbooking the last trip.
    I thought Crawdads was “ok”.
    I thought All The Light You Cannot See was “ok” it was depressing I thought and also could not understand the hype. Where was the love story???
    My next book will be Notes From A Small Island and Pompeii.


    • Laurel May 18, 2023 at 21:21 #

      Hi Tammy! Nice to hear from you and I will watch for you on Goodreads. I enjoyed Bryson’s “Notes from.a Small Island” as well as “Pompeii” by Harris. Thanks for stopping by Girovaga!


  2. grier January 2, 2023 at 07:22 #

    Great post, as usual, Laurel!

    Best book: Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk was the most memorable and enjoyable fo the 156 books I read.

    Best movie: I’m wracking my brains for a recent movie I’ve seen and can’t think of one so will mention Desk Set with Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy which I watched again just before Christmas. I do plan to see Mrs Harris Goes to Paris soon as I loved the book and admire Lesley Manville.

    Best Series: Mapp and Lucia (the original) on BritBox, based on E F Benson’s novels.

    Best Meal: Howie’s in Edinburgh after a long flight: Silky cullen skink, perfectly pan roasted salmon with creamy potatoes and broccolini, a glass of house red, and vanilla ice cream to finish.

    Best new hike: Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay in Yorkshire. Sea views, breezes, cliff-top vistas, rolling hills, ending in a cute village.

    Best urban hike: Mount Tabor!

    You have the sweetest, most photogenic cats!

    Happy New Year! I’m looking forward to many more walks with you this year.


    • Laurel January 2, 2023 at 08:29 #

      I have not heard of “Mapp & Lucia,” but now I have looked it up and think we’d like it a lot! Your Edinburgh meal sounds delightful and I so hope to get Whitby one of these days. We were supposed to go in 2020. See you soon!


  3. lori5124 January 1, 2023 at 17:17 #

    Thank you for this post, Laurel. I get ideas from what other people are liking and I have made some notes from this post! As for me:
    Books: I like to read books based on where I’ve traveled to or will be going to. Local author (Spokane) Janet Newton has a series of books based in Wales. They are called the Llangynog Murders and they are a fun read!
    2nd would be a book called Sisi, Empress on her own, about the famous Empress of Austria. I enjoyed reading about her and it prompted my own investigation. Netflix also did a recent series on her, although it covered a different time in her life.
    Movies: I have to agree that Mrs. Harris goes to Paris is my favorite for 2022. Great setting, good writing and great casting/acting. Loved it! I also really enjoyed Top Gun.
    TV Series: We really like Emelie goes to Paris. We also found an older French series called A French Village which we really liked…although fiction, it is historically accurate. It is about what happened from a French point of view during German occupation WWII. Extremely well done.
    Best meal: A few days layover in Paris on our way home from our last trip we found Le ReCamier for Soufflés. It was a very special treat. A close second to that would be a meal(feast) prepared by a family in Morroco on our tour there. Highly recommend tour guide Mestapha with Roaming Camels for setting this (and others) up.
    Hike: Caminito Del Rey near Malaga Spain. They have put boardwalks through a beautiful canyon so that everyone can safely enjoy this hike. All ages. Loved it and highly recommend.
    Best Accommodation: Casa Olea in between Cordoba and Granada in rural Spain. Hikes right outside the door, birdsong, beautiful sunsets and historical villages nearby to this restored Cortijo. All run by a young British Couple who make you feel right at home. We can’t wait to go back!! Sigh….
    Hoping my tips might also inspire someone as yours have me!


    • Laurel January 2, 2023 at 08:24 #

      Wonderful list, Lori! We will be in Wales for a few days this year so I need to check out the Llangynog Murders!

      Liked by 1 person

      • lori5124 January 2, 2023 at 10:06 #

        I really liked the little bit of folk lore she brings into her stories. And there is a real place named Llangynog….you just can’t make that up!! Happy New Year!


  4. Marcia Kakiuchi December 31, 2022 at 17:24 #

    I loved your lists. And I’m quite impressed you read 32 books. I’m a reader but not that much. Whoa. I only have a few items on my Top lists for the year.

    Book: The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

    Movie: a light hearted one called Mrs. Harris goes to Paris

    TV series: Virgin River and The Crowne

    Meal: I can’t recall the name but it was at a herb farm in Sicily. OMG.

    Place: Malta. What a great and wonderful surprise!

    I love love love your kitties. They make me smile.

    Happy New Year and keep on posting.


    • Kim January 1, 2023 at 05:33 #

      Happy new year to Ric and you. As you know, per your recommendation we loved West With Giraffes. Another one is Remarkably Bright Creatures about an Octopus. A trip highlight was visiting with you two. Also, taking the train from San Diego to Chicago and then NYC.
      Completing a full year of retirement!
      Two favorite restaurants. One in San Diego called Wormwood that highlights Absinthe. Another is in Hells Kitchen in NYC called Kochi. The most amazing Korean food I’ve ever had. The owner worked at French Laundry.
      Finally, and for me, being so close and having Jim, family and loved ones in my life.


      • Laurel January 1, 2023 at 08:45 #

        The book about an octopus sounds intriguing, but will I ever be able to eat it again after watching? We had such a great time when you visited! We should come south to see you sometime. Happy New Year to you and Jim!


    • Laurel January 1, 2023 at 08:36 #

      Thanks, Marcia! “Mrs. Harris” was very cute and I did like “The Crowne” very much having started when it was released and I look forward to each season. Food in Sicily was amazing and I would love to return just to eat in Trapani! Hoping your 2023 is divine!


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