A Top 5 of 2014 projects

Welcome to 2015, everybody. It's nice to see you all here. Glad you could make it.

Before we sweep the past under the rug, here are five stories that I'm most proud to have written in 2014:

1. I'll remember 2014 as the year I published my first book. Sure, it was only an e-book, so I didn't get to kill any trees. And it was only 20,000 words long, so reading it probably only takes as long as the graceful draining of a fancy bottle of wine. But I spent two years researching and writing the story of a renegade band of winemakers who defy the wine pest phylloxera by growing own-rooted grapes. And it's the best thing I've written to date. I hope you'll check it out:


2. For the second year running, I spent a month eating my way across Canada and got to choose a top ten list of "Canada's Best New Restaurants" for enRoute magazine. Whenever anybody hears about this gig and tells me I've got the best job in the world, I don't do what I'd usually do, which is to downplay it and go all aw shucks and if you only knew. No, I own it and I say, "You're right, I do have the best job." Because it's the truth:


3. My first ever piece for American Express's haute-travel magazine Departures was a short one, but one of my best calls of the year: months before it opened, I previewed what turned out to be one of the biggest phenomenons of the global year in art. Ai Weiwei's exhibition "@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz" was conceptualized and built by the provocative dissident Chinese artist in Beijing, and shipped to the site of one of America's most notorious island prisons in SF bay. The artist wasn't unable to attend his big opening, sadly – Ai Weiwei was secretly detained by his own government for 81 days in 2011 and has still not regained the ability to travel outside China:


4. I wrote about architecture and design in Mexico City for the Globe and Mail's glossy StyleAdvisor magazine. The highlight of the trip was an exquisite lunch at Eduardo Garcia's restaurant Maximo Bistrot Local – housed in a former wheelchair shop that had been transformed into a serene, minimalist white space that the chef himself described to me as "very Barragan."


5. I wrote a travel piece about the city I call home. This I accomplished by using home-grown San Francisco technology to explore some exiting new corners of the city – with old friends and new ones alike – that I might not otherwise have noticed. I called the result, "Five digital postcards from the land of the new new thing." Even if technology sometimes makes us stupider, other times it can still make the world a brave new place to experience:


Have a great 2015 and thanks for reading.