2020 – Year In Review

Wow, I can’t believe it’s December 32nd, 2020 already!

Wow, that’s not funny…but it sure feels like it. 🥴 I’m yearning for the times of B.C.: Before COVID. Remember friends and physical interactions? Yeah. Me too…barely…

This year has been one of incredible hardship. Being immunocompromised AND working full-time in infection control in NYC has caused me to view this pandemic through an incredibly unique lens. While staying inside, working on a LOT of data (both COVID and non-COVID-related) and attempting to stay sane, the desire blossomed inside of me to return to my – admittedly – neglected blog.

Starting to write again was good for my mind, if anything. It helped me think things through, it helped me pivot, and it helped me feel a creative spark that was momentarily lost.

Let’s take a looksie here…

Seek Satiation’s Accomplishments in 2020

  • I’ve had a total of eight paid collaborations this year. They consisted of either alcohol or bread, which just seems par of course for 2020: people wanted drinks and comfort carbs!
My #UnquestionablyGoodPairings campaign with Bud Light Seltzer. Don’t sleep on that cranberry flavor!
  • I made a comfortable four-figures in additional income from paid collaborations, recipe development, and creating content for other brands. In 2019, I made about $800 between sponsored posts and recipe development for others, which isn’t bad, but it’s good to strive for more. This year proved that putting in the work is worth it. Look for a in-depth blog post later this month on how I’ve accomplished this! I have a few additional token thoughts regarding this:
    • I create and make additional income off of things that you – the viewer – do not explicitly see on my Instagram or this blog. You have seen my photography in other places that you probably have not realized off the bat! Contracts allow me to say – and not say! – certain things I’ve done, so I’ll leave an air of mystery. 👻
    • Remember: Having “x” amount of followers on Instagram should not = an inability to make an income off of your content creation. As of the moment I type this, I have ~3.7k followers on Instagram. Yet, I have created content for an Anheuser-Busch brand and Walmart this year. Why? I have relatively high organic social media engagement from my COMMUNITY – not just followers! -, a dedicated following on this blog, I produce appealing content, and inject my authentic voice into my copy.
  • Working from home has been stressful, but it got me back into my groove of paying attention to the blog. I fell back on Instagram a lot in late 2018 – 2019 because of ease of use. Come April, when I was a home working but was trying to find an outlet to channel my restlessness through, I remembered, “Oh! Right. I’ve got this website.” I broke out of my comfort zone: I originally only posted recipes on Seek Satiation, but I branched out to post about other things in the wider content creation universe that I love, such as speaking on my personal blogger experience & advice + showing support for local food & drink businesses I adore. This opened up conversations, new connections, and – importantly – increased blog traffic. (Ha! I had to say it.)
  • I learned that “NO” is not a bad word. Saying “YES” to everything is weak, and I used to be that person. I used to take on too many opportunities; namely, I took on too many free opportunities thinking, “This exposure will be good for me!” I realized my worth, but I also realized that you can’t pour from an empty glass. Due to my job and its higher demands during this pandemic, I did not accept any paid collaborations between June and October, and that was a wise decision on my end. I regret nothing!
Me, relaxing and not caring about your collaboration offers. I’ve got a smoothie to finish, circa June 2020.
  • My work with Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen took on extra importance & urgency this year. As many of you know, I’ve been a media volunteer for them since 2018, helping get out the word and raise funds for their annual Farm To Tray charity gala; that pivoted to me becoming a Holy Apostles Hunger Ambassador. This year – in an incredible pivot – the event was fully virtual and a success, despite this pandemic. I joined in on this year’s Fast – A – Thon and fasted in solidarity with all of those affected by food insecurity; many of HASK’s guests eat one meal a day, and I did as they did. Through social media postings and cold calling – or, perhaps, cold DMing – I was able to raise more than $1,500 in 2020 between the two fundraisers, and I was able to make a few contributions of my own. Combating food insecurity is of great importance to me, and I am glad to be in the fight against it. I look forward to working with HASK for a long time to come.
Fighting food insecurity, one finger point at a time, circa October 2020.

Who knows what 2021 will bring? One, I know I’ll be typing “20201” for a while because typing “2021” is something I have to think about now due my my muscle memory. Ha!

This pandemic will not be over until closer to the end of 2021, surely, so I still plan to the usual: Not eating out, not traveling, keeping myself as safe as possible through proper hand and respiratory hygiene, supporting restaurants and food businesses through direct ordering, supporting & promoting my favorite BIPOC-owned businesses, supporting my fellow creatives and especially BIPOC creatives to make sure their voices are heard loud & clear in this oft-crowded social media space, and getting as much socially-distanced fresh air as I can.

Oh, and I’ll continue to grow Seek Satiation. Eh, why not?

Mask up, stay home, stay safe, y’all.

Walking into 2020 like, “Give me the Pfizer vaccine OR the Moderna vaccine, I am not picky!”, circa December 2020.

Italian Cheese Pairings – Review

Italian Cheese Pairings with AOP Agriform

Excuse me for being cheesy, but I enjoy a good Italian cheese!

Well, I love ANY cheese, but Italian cheeses absolutely have a special place in my heart.

A pivot that has come with this pandemic has been virtual food and drink tastings, leaving us food lovers the opportunity to explore and be educated while staying safely at home.

I’ve heard of many Italian cheeses before, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano and Asiago, but I was unaware that there were levels to Asiago, such as Stagionato and Fresco. Not only did I try Montasio and Piave for the first time, I had not even known of their existence prior to this tasting!

A few important points, according to AOP Agriform:

  • All cheeses are PDO (protected designations of origin). According to AOP Agriform: PDO “is a trademark given by the European Union to products whose quality or characteristics depend essentially or exclusively on the territory in which they were produced and therefore cannot be imitated outside a determined production zone.”
  • All cheeses in this tasting are from Northern Italy. For example, “The production area for Grana Padano PDO extends throughout Northern Italy and generally coincides with the territories of the Po Valley region north of the Po river. It covers 5 regions from Piedmont to Veneto and down part of Emilia Romagna.”
  • Each cheese has its own specific timeline for aging. “Asiago Fresco must be aged for at least 20 days at a temperature of around 50-59° F with humidity level of 80-85%” within its region. Asiago Stagionato, on the other hand, can be aged for as few as two months and over 15 months, the aging process broken down into specific levels such as Asiago Stagionato mezzano (4 – 6 months of aging), Asiago Stagionato vecchio (10 – 15 months), and Asiago Stagionato stravecchio (over 15 months).

Chef Carlo Bigi – currently the Executive Chef as Sleepy Hollow Country Club while previously working at The Bowery Hotel, Casa Levar, and Sant Ambroeus – crafted a master at-home tasting experience that’s rather unparalleled to any at-home tasting I’ve had during this past year. His knowledge of the cheese coupled with his mastery of how to match flavors created something special.

His pairings came as follows:

  • Grana Padano with Pumpkin Mostarda & Toasted Seeds
  • Piave with Red Onion Ginger Chutney & Marcona Almonds
  • Montasio with Port Wine Cranberry Compote & Crispy Kale
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano with Aged Modena Balsamic & Asian Pear
  • Asiago Fresco with Spicy Green Grapes & Shiso Leaves
  • Asiago Stagionato with Chestnut Honey & Roasted Hazelnuts

It’s hard to pick a favorite pairing, but if I had to, I’d give it to the Asiago Fresco with Spicy Green Grapes & Shiso Leaves the top prize. I love shiso leaves, often ordering shiso & plum rolls from my local Japanese I find them to be tangy and crisp yet cleansing; pairing it this cheese, which was relatively robust in flavor, was on point. This is a pairing I’d make for myself at home! It’d be a much needed upgrade from simple cheese and crackers. Ha!

Plus, this tasting came with a Negroni that damn near knocked my socks off! She was potent, but that is definitely not a complaint. 🥃😉

Thank you to Chef Bigi for crafting this masterful cheese pairing experience, as well as providing me with some new education about the creation of this PDO Italian cheeses.


Note: This cheese was complementary for tasting and review purposes. Thank you to the team behind Made With Amore + AOP Agriform Team for this opportunity! As always, all opinions are my own.

Jasmine Tea Hot Toddy with Empress 1908 Gin is the winter drink of your dreams!

Well, if you like tea, herbaceous gin, lemon, honey, and hot alcoholic beverages, the above statement is a true statement. Ha! But even if that sounds off to you, I bet I can change your mind.

I’ve long been a tea drinker, ever since I was a little kid. My tastes have changed. I used to be a peppermint tea with four sugars type of gal – thanks, Dad, for making me a sugar junkie as a kid! – but nowadays, I leave my teas sugarless but focus on dynamic flavors. Jasmine, tusli, a variety of mints, matcha, rooibos, you name it. Coming back to jasmine, I find it to be a a tea that’s both invigorating yet relaxing; I can drink a cup to perk myself up in the morning or drink a cup to wind myself down in the evening.

Anything herbal or botanical in my drinks makes me happy, so I was immediately drawn to Empress 1908 Gin. This vibrant gin is the love child of Victoria Distillers and Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia. It is micro-distilled in copper pots and colored vibrantly indigo with the addition of butterfly pea flower. It is an absolute delight in its mix of herbal and tea notes, unlike any gin you’ve had before, surely!

This recipe was all on a whim – as are way too many things I create – but the combination of this botanical gin and the jasmine tea were a matched made in heaven! I knew I wanted to create something hot and soothing, and the stars aligned for me the afternoon this all came together. Honest to goodness, I nailed this recipe on the first try and have not improved upon it since, because I think it’s divine just the way it is!

This is a drink that will warm you down to your bones, and it’s great anytime of the day! But, if you are working from home, perhaps drink it during non-working hours only. (But…I can’t stop you, can I?)

Jasmine Tea Hot Toddy with Empress 1908 Gin
Jasmine Tea Hot Toddy with Empress 1908 Gin

Jasmine Tea Hot Toddy

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. water
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 bag of jasmine tea of choice
  • 2 oz. Empress 1908 Gin (or botanical gin of choice)
  • Juice of 1/4 lemon (medium to large-sized)

Directions:

1.) In a small saucepan, bring 12 oz. of water to a simmer. Stir in honey until dissolved. Remove saucepan from heat and add teabag; allow tea to steep for 2 – 3 minutes and discard teabag when finished.

2.) In a mug or glass that has at least a 15 oz. capacity, add tea mixture. Top with gin, squeeze in fresh lemon juice, stir, and enjoy!


Note: This original recipe comes as a part of a sponsored Instagram post I created for Empress 1908 Gin in November 2020. As always, all opinions are my own.

I’m preaching to the choir here: this is going to be a unique holiday season to navigate in the face of this coronavirus pandemic. Best practice indicates to largely stay away from people outside of our own households, so there should ideally be no gathering around the Christmas tree or lighting the menorah with our loved ones out of town, or even across town.

In my opinion, the best gift we can give to the ones we love this holiday season is the gift of literal physical space as COVID cases continue to climb, to know we love each other and are willing to not put anyone in harm’s way by potentially spreading this coronavirus. I’ve already told my parents I likely will not be staying home for Christmas, and they understand – thank you, Mom & Dad, for being logical science-understanders! – because even if I stay inside all day from now until a few days before Christmas, get swabbed, and quarantine until I get a negative result back, I live with people that work outside of our apartment, one of whom is patient-facing. I’m definitely not in a hermetically-sealed bubble and am always at risk of catching it even if I’m being careful, ya know? (Unless I can get a toilet, sink, mini-fridge, and hot plate in my bedroom and live college dorm-style for the next twenty-four days…) There is no point in putting my parents in a position to catch it from me just for the sake of having a “normal Christmas” in Connecticut for a few days, oy!

If all goes well, the holiday seasons of 2021 and beyond will be much more “normal”, and I have great faith that we can hold on until then.

In this same vein of seeing how the pandemic has affected us all, it has affected businesses, from ones in large cities down to ones in bucolic small towns. Wouldn’t it be nice to support them while finding a wonderful gift or two to send a loved one we cannot see in person this year? Let us continue to support local businesses, Black-owned businesses, minority-owned businesses, and women-owned businesses this holiday season and beyond, no matter where you live.

There are so many wonderful NYC-based food & drink brands that I have connected with over the years – and a few of them that I’ve included may be slightly be outside of the immediate confines of the five boroughs, but I had to include them! – and I am excited to share this list. Some goods are available only locally, while others can ship their goods nationwide! Please support them, whether it’s purchasing from them or simply sharing this post with others. ❤️

(And yes, the dessert list is the longest. No need to mention it. Ha!)

NOTE: All food and drink items below have been personally vetted by me; i.e.: I have consumed from every business mentioned below! This list could – of course – be greatly extended, but I am posting regarding brand I have tried, enjoyed, and purchase from.

AND ALSO: Certain business may not ship to all states, and some businesses only deliver within the NYC Metro Area; I’ve noted this where necessary, but *please inquire with businesses directly* if you have further questions about pick-up, delivery, or shipping.

NYC Food & Drink Brands – A 2020 Holiday Guide!

NYC Alcohol Brands

NYC Beverage Brands

NYC Dessert Brands

NYC Condiment Brands