Looking Back at 2021 on the Blog

I started last year’s version of this post by saying, “I hope 2021 will not be like 2020 for too long”. This year I will not make any forward-looking statements.

We were lucky in 2021 in our household and extended family—in the US, India and Korea. Others we know were not. If 2021 didn’t mean a return to normalcy in our everyday lives—though we almost achieved it in patches—the blog kept chugging on normally. At the start of the pandemic in the US in 2020 I’d thought it unlikely I’d keep at it but in both years it’s been the routine I’ve clung to. Approaching its ninth anniversary in March, I think it’s safe to say the blog will make it to its 10 anniversary in 2023 (assuming I do as well). Readers don’t seem to be losing interest either—though it is very likely that in the last 2-3 years my old whisky readership has largely been replaced by a food readership. At least that’s what the numbers continue to suggest.

Page views went up by 18% from 2020 and the number of unique visitors went up by 11%. Where did they/you come from?

Top 10 Locations of Visitors

  1. United States
  2. India
  3. United Kingdom
  4. Canada
  5. Germany
  6. Australia
  7. France
  8. Netherlands
  9. Vietnam
  10. Switzerland

The US continues to be the home base of most of my readers by far. 82% of page views originated here. After moving up to third place last year, India moved into second place in 2021 displacing the UK to third place. Singapore and Hong Kong fell out of the top 10, replaced by France and Switzerland.

Once again, most of the referrals—by far—were from Facebook. This is once again courtesy the support of Mike McGuinness and the excellent Twin Cities East Metro Facebook food group—and also Facebook groups for Bloomington and a few other Twin Cities metro areas. Twitter continues to be a distant third for referrals (Google searches are in second place). My thanks as always to my fellow bloggers who continue to link to my posts.

What were the people who came to the blog reading?

Top 30  Posts by Viewership

  1. At the Lahore Karhai (More Poems About Food and Drink)
  2. A Guide to Ordering at Grand Szechuan (Bloomington, MN)
  3. A Highly Subjective Ranking of Indian Restaurants in the Twin Cities (2020 Edition)
  4. Dragon Star Oriental Foods (St. Paul, MN)
  5. Sour Fish Curry with Coconut Milk and Kokum
  6. Rong Market (Richfield, MN)
  7. Pandemic Takeout 44: Fasika (St. Paul, MN)
  8. On the New (and Old) Curry Denialism or We’re Here, We’re Brown, We Eat Curry, Calm Down!
  9. Chana Masala, Take 2
  10. Twin Cities South Asian Restaurant Rankings, 2021 Update
  11. “Irani Restaurant Bombay” (More Poems About Food and Drink)
  12. Pandemic Takeout 01: El Triunfo, Northfield, MN
  13. Glendronach Confusion or (What is a Single Cask?)
  14. The Real and Fictional History of Loch Lomond Whisky
  15. Pandemic Takeout 56: Firebox Barbecue (St. Paul, MN)
  16. Pandemic Takeout 54: Aroma Indian Cuisine (Bloomington, MN)
  17. How to Cook and Eat Food From a Culture That Is Not Your Own
  18. Red Bean Curry with Coconut Milk
  19. Pineapple Chutney
  20. Spice Bazaar (Woodbury, MN)
  21. Regional Indian Cookbooks, An Incomplete Guide
  22. Chana Masala, Take 3
  23. Kim’s Asian Market (St. Paul, MN)
  24. Estelle (St. Paul)
  25. Tin Tea (Northfield, MN)
  26. Chan Oriental Market (Bloomington, MN)
  27. Lobia Masala
  28. Favourite Dishes Eaten in the Twin Cities Metro: Jan 1-March 31, 2021
  29. Pandemic Takeout 58: The Deli at Asian Mart (Burnsville, MN)
  30. Black Bean Curry with Potatoes

In other words, 26 out of the top 30 most viewed posts had to do with food. Only two had to do with whisky—neither of them reviews. The other two, including the most read post of the year, had to do with…poems. I wondered last year about my piece on Imtiaz Dharker’s “At the Lahore Karhai” making it into the top 10—this year it rocketed all the way to the top. The mystery, however, was solved: the poem appears to have been/be on an examination list at a university or two in India. Presumably this also explains the movement of my piece on Arun Kolatkar’s “”Irani Cafe, Bombay” into the top 30 this year. Alas, I don’t think I will have any posts on poems this year.

Top 10 Whisky/Booze Reviews

Despite their relative unpopularity, however, I will be continuing to post three reviews of whiskies/spirits per week in 2022. Here’s what was read the most in 2021.

  1. Lagavulin Distillers Edition, 2005-2020
  2. Hector Macbeth/Glenfiddich 23, 1997 (Hepburn’s Choice for K&L)
  3. Lagavulin 10
  4. Longrow 18, 2020 Release
  5. Craigellachie 16, 2003 (Old Particular for K&L)
  6. Springbank 12 CS, Batch 19
  7. Lagavulin 12 CS, 2020 Release
  8. The Secret Islay (The Whisky Shop)
  9. Springbank 10, 2010, Local Barley
  10. Kilkerran 8, Recharred Oloroso Sherry Casks

With one exception the list comprises recent official releases and single casks bottled for K&L in 2021. Which is yet another way of saying that most of my readership is based in the US. The anomaly again this year is my review of an Edinburgh store bottling from 2018, The Secret Islay—it had cracked the top 10 booze reviews in 2019 and 2020 as well; this after only barely cracking the top 100 whisky reviews in 2018, the year in which it was actually available. Why is this so? Who can say.

Top 10 Restaurant Reviews

Returning to the subject of inexplicably highly viewed posts: after being in the top 20, if not top 5 most read posts since it went up in 2016 my review of Under Bridge Spicy Crab in Hong Kong fell out of the top 30 last year. This year the total views of that review? 0. The restaurant itself is still open, in case you’re wondering. My review has gone from being the second or third hit in a Google search for it to the second page of results. Sic transit gloria.

Which were the most read restaurant reviews of 2021?

I should note first that the second-most read post of the year, my guide to ordering at Grand Szechuan in Bloomington, MN, was effectively a restaurant review. It also rocketed to that number 2 ranking in just three days from publication. I can only hope that it resulted in more business for our favourite restaurant in the state. Speaking of guides it’s worth noting that there were almost as many write-ups of Asian markets as restaurant reviews in the top 30 most read posts of the year. I’ll probably have more of those this year (and not just Asian markets either).

Here are the top 10 formal’ish restaurant reviews:

  1. Pandemic Takeout 44: Fasika (St. Paul, MN)
  2. Pandemic Takeout 01: El Triunfo (Northfield, MN)
  3. Pandemic Takeout 56: Firebox Barbecue (St. Paul, MN)
  4. Pandemic Takeout 54: Aroma Indian Cuisine (Bloomington, MN)
  5. Estelle (St. Paul)
  6. Tin Tea (Northfield, MN)
  7. Pandemic Takeout 58: The Deli at Asian Mart (Burnsville, MN)
  8. Pandemic Takeout 70: India House (St. Paul, MN)
  9. Dim Sum at Mandarin Kitchen (Bloomington, MN)
  10. Pandemic Takeout 62: Coco’s Place (Northfield, MN)

Two Indian restaurants in the top 10 as well as three restaurants in our town. Why my review of our disastrous meal at Mandarin Kitchen in 2019 should have bubbled back up into the top 10 in 2021 I don’t know but I expect it made me more friends among Twin Citizens who cite the restaurant as evidence that the Twin Cities has dim sum as good as that available anywhere else.

I’ll be continuing my survey of the local Indian food scene in 2021 (see here for my updated rankings). This year I also hope to explore even more of the Hispanic food scene—more Mexican, yes, but also more Salvadoran (this on account of how much we enjoyed our meal at Mañana).

Top 10 Recipes

And so to recipes, which were more popular on the whole than my restaurant and whisky reviews alike.

  1. Sour Fish Curry with Coconut Milk and Kokum
  2. Chana Masala, Take 2
  3. Red Bean Curry with Coconut Milk
  4. Pineapple Chutney
  5. Chana Masala, Take 3
  6. Lobia Masala
  7. Black Bean Curry with Potatoes
  8. Double Brown Beans
  9. Masoor/Mushoor Dal Variations
  10. White Bean Curry

My perennially popular pineapple chutney recipe slipped out of the overall top 30 rankings last year. This year it was back to #19 overall and #4 among recipes. The most popular recipe—the sour fish curry—was shared widely on Twitter which probably explains its popularity. The rest of the top 10 involves Rancho Gordo beans and the interest/support of the Rancho Gordo Bean Club Facebook page (only open to Bean Club members). It probably did not hurt that I published an e-booklet of bean recipes with Rancho Gordo in September. There’s a chance that I might do more with them this year or the next. Let’s see if that does pan out.

I didn’t do much non-recipe/review food writing this past year, only posting the one round-up of writing on South Asian food—and that was last February. I should have another entry in that series out this month and I’ll try to be more regular with those the rest of the year. Worth noting that my piece from 2019 on the continuing plague of US-based food writers insisting that Indians don’t eat curry was in the overall top 10 again this year.

Alright, that’s it for 2021. On to 2022. Tomorrow I’ll post a look ahead to January that will have both the recipes poll and the long list of whisky reviews on it. If you want to weigh in on the selections for the month, come back tomorrow.


3 thoughts on “Looking Back at 2021 on the Blog

  1. Thanks for putting so much into this blog. I came here a few years ago for the whiskey reviews. Though the whiskey reviews are taking a back seat to food these days, it’s still a must read for me each morning.

    Liked by 1 person

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