The Compass & Fork Year in Review
The 2015 Retrospective. I always find it a useful exercise to review the year in some detail and have a think about the New Year. When I was younger this happened twice a year, once before the start of the school year and then at the end of the calendar year. I must admit it is a rhythm that continues to this day despite the fact I have been out of school for a long, long time. I use the changing of the seasons, to have a bit of a check in and think about if things are still on course, where I’ve been and where I am going.
I have always been a planner, always have written goals, and always kept a journal. So in a way I find it rather ironic that now, as I begin what many would call about my 5th or 6th career, to find myself running a food and travel website.
But enough of idle chatter, the point of this post is to have a bit of a review of Compass & Fork for 2015. A look at where we’ve been, what worked and what we should do more of, and what perhaps we should leave behind in 2015 rather than drag it kicking and screaming into 2016.
Where We Have Been: Milestones
June 1, we launched Compass & Fork, so as I write we have 6 months under our belt, and are starting month seven. Wow time flies.
We kicked off Compass & Fork in Turkey. We just loved Turkey. We don’t often return to the same country, but I feel as though I have lots more I could see and do in Turkey, so we may be back some day. The highlights were the people and the food. The surprises, well even though we learned it many moons ago in school, it was fascinating to see the culture, the history. For a long time Constantinople was the center of the world. It was one of the largest and most advanced cities. It was the center of the Christian Church, the Ottoman Empire and as we shared in many of our posts a lot of food, customs and expressions all come from this ancient culture. Highlights were seeing Gallipoli, Ephesus, the Lycian Coast and Istanbul.
Some of our most popular posts about Turkey’s culture and cuisine:
The Grand Bazaar, The Blue Mosque and Turkish Ceramics
Oh! To be a Kid Again in Cappadocia
Turkish Stuffed Eggplant Recipe
Sultan’s Delight Recipe from the Imperial Kitchen at Topkapi Palace
And if you have some entertaining to do, don’t miss the Turkish Dinner Party post complete with recipes and wine pairings. A great way to share Turkish cuisine with you family and friends.
July, Northern Italy
We had been to Italy before and even been to a couple of the places we went to this time (there you go, an exception to the never visit twice!) Part of our timing was to go to the Milan Expo, also known as the World’s Fair, which had a food theme. We had a great time and enjoyed our couple of days there. I think our timing was good as later in the summer there reports of huge crowds resulting in long lines at many of the Pavilions.
We also went to Bologna, Modena, Parma, Venice, Treviso and a chance to hike in the Dolomites. The food and wine were excellent as expected in Italy. And we very much enjoyed our trips to the local producers, learning about the wine, cheeses and shopping at the local markets. Sharing it on the Compass & Fork added another dimension to our travels.
Some of our most popular posts from Italy include:
Modena Market Porcini Mushroom Risotto with Truffle Oil
Baked Stuffed Zucchini Flowers or Squash Blossoms
Traveling in Italy: What you Need to Know
Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena: more expensive than fine wine?
Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese: the Whole Delicious Story
From Italy we went to Patagonia. Patagonia is one of the most beautiful and remote places we have traveled to. Part of the timing of sharing Patagonia in September is that now; December, is the start of the peak tourist season as it is summer there. If you want to go to Patagonia you need to plan in advance as during the busy months demand is high. Hiking in Torres del Paine National Park requires permits which need to be organized months in advance.
Even in the internet age, Patagonia is an area with surprisingly little information available. We criss-crossed Argentina and Chile to visit Bariloche, Puerto Varas, Perito Moreno Glacier, Torres Del Paine National Park, El Chalten and finished with a cruise around the bottom of Patagonia from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas. If you are into hiking Patagonia will not disappoint you.
Hopefully sharing what we learned will help some of you in the future and It was a fantastic opportunity to share some great food and wine with you as well.
Patagonia was one of our most popular destinations. Some of your favorite Patagonia posts:
Patagonian Scallop and Leek Empanadas
Dulce de Leche Creme Caramel Dessert
Chiloe and Patagonia Roast Lamb with Chimichurri Sauce
Torres Del Paine National Park: Hiking the “W
Patagonia Seven Fascinating Facts of Interest
El Chalten and Mount Fitz Roy: Argentina’s Hiking Capital
Vietnam was a fantastic trip for us. We spent over 7 weeks traveling from South to North Vietnam. The history, the culture and the cuisine are all fascinating.
We have long been fans of Vietnamese food and it was great to eat it in Vietnam. Some of our highlights were the Mekong Delta, Hoi An (who knew what a great place that was!) Ninh Binh, Mai Chau, Halong Bay and the Sapa Town.
This also was a great reason to create our second Guide with Latitude: Asian Cooking Essentials. If you subscribe to the Monthly Coordinates and receive our regular updates it is our free gift to you.
Some of the your popular posts from Vietnam were:
Introducing Vibrant Vietnam: What You Need to Know
Easy Hoi An Inspired Fresh Spring Rolls
Banh Mi French Legacy Vietnamese Classic
Greetings from Hanoi: Wish You were Here!
How to Easily Make Genuine Vietnamese Coffee
How to Save Money on Your Trip To Vietnam
November, Melbourne (Australia)
We explored Melbourne in November. Australia is a huge country with lots to see, do and explore. The food scene there is fantastic and it is a food, wine and coffee lover’s paradise. We will share more about Australia in the future. It was just too much to cover in one month!
It was Good Food Month in Melbourne for the entire month of November. This is the largest food festival in the world! It features local and international food “celebrities” in a number of events, courses and restaurant specials. Cuisines from all over the world are featured. Our focus for the month of November was on the food scene in Melbourne. Helping you to make the most of your eating pleasure while you are there.
We shared some of our favorites including Australian cheese and wine, shops and cooking schools and a guide to what to do and where to stay to explore Melbourne’s inner city.
Some of your most popular Melbourne posts include:
Insider Tips to Make the Most of your Melbourne Visit
A Guide to the Fabulous Melbourne Markets
Healthy Avocado Smash for Breakfast
Comfort Butternut Squash Quinoa Soup with Crunch
Spotlight on Marvelous Melbourne world best for sport?
So that is where we visited on Compass & Fork. Our readership, traffic and social media engagement has been growing steadily so thanks to all of you for following on our journey. We hope you continue along in 2016. For a peak at what might be coming in 2016, read our 2016 Wish List: An Optimist Look at the New Year.
We have had a chance to look at what is working and what we would like to change for next year. We are struggling to make it through some of our larger destinations in only 4 weeks, that’s only 12 posts if we post three times a week which we have been doing Monday, Wednesday and Friday. So we think we are going to try moving some destinations to 6 weeks, doing 2 destinations over the course of 3 months. In addition we will add in some more tips and tricks we have learned through our travels to help you plan yours. We have added a few trip planning resources as well so you will be able to plan more of your trip directly from the Compass & Fork site. We will continue to add these in the future. We also have other improvements in the works but are not ready to reveal them yet. (There have to be some surprises).
We are going to keep the shopping lists, the shop of hand-picked and curated items from around the world, and the dinner party menus. Our monthly Coordinates will continue as well. If you do not already subscribe to Coordinates, now is the time as many items, including shopping lists, only go to subscribers.
If you have anything you would like to see in 2016, please leave us a comment below or email us.
As our gift to all of you for the New Year, enjoy a free Knife Skills course from Craftsy.
All the best to you and your families for the 2016!
If you have any suggestions for us, please leave a comment below! We love to hear from you.
Kudos to you for such an awesome year.
I, too, always conclue the year with a summary post. Its a great way to look back and feel good.
Wish you a great 2016.
Himanshu, Yes it is a good way to remember why we travel. You do see some amazing things and meet some really wonderful people. Hope you have a great 2016!
Looks like it was a great travelling year! I love the fact that you seem to stay quite a while in each destination, slow travel is the best of travels I think! Food plays such an important part in travelling, doesn’ it? My favourite cuisine is definitely Italian: so simple, yet so tasty!
We love the slow travel method as you can get the feel of the culture, the people and the food. I know you don’t always have a choice but “cramming” too many activities and tours into a short timeframe is just exhausting. Thanks for your comment
Wow you really did travel the globe this year! I visited Vietnam in 2011 and loved it and I also visited Italy this year! One of my favorite countries…so much so I visit a new part every year! 🙂 Congrats on having a fabulous year and may your continued health, happiness and traveling experience be carried through to 2016! 🙂
Italy and Vietnam, both great places that’s for sure. I hope you have a great year of travels too in 2016! Thanks for your comment.
Looks like a great year of travel. We visited Patagonia recently and it was a great experience, and we just got in before peak season started so it was pretty laid back. I wore really uncomfortable shoes on the W Trek and it was tough, can’t argue with those views though!
Jon, Yes Patagonia was amazing, the scenery is so beautiful! My feet hurt in my good hiking boots so I can only imagine. It is a very rocky trail in parts.
You had a lovely year visiting some of my most favorite places (Turkey and Vietnam). Turkey is definitely a country I know I would like to return to and the food is one of the big reasons. I loved the food in Turkey and though part of that can be attributed to my weakness for Middle Eastern cuisine, it’s also true that there’s so much to discover food-wise in the smaller towns in the country.
Natasha, I agree about Turkey between the people and the food, we are hoping we make it back some day. Vietnam I think I liked the country and smaller towns better than the big cities- HCMC was a bit overwhelming.