We didn’t have the TAWAs this year, but lots of awesomeness still took place. Here’s a very self-indulgent look at what I particularly loved and didn’t – hopefully other Wellingtonistas will add their own posts too.

The single best meal I have had this year: the Ambeli takes this one out. Simply stunning food and sublime service. I only wish I was rich enough to go here more than once a year.

The single worst service of the year was at Monsoon Poon.

The place I would be photographed at if I was going to be in the Dominion Post’s “My Favourite Table” column: Monterey. Especially now they have a pulled pork burger on their menu. Always a lovely place to loiter in, except on $10 Tuesdays when it is crazy busy.

Where everybody knows your name and what you drink: Oh Mighty Mighty, I love you so. I love Sally in the tequila shack, and the bartenders who tell me that they haven’t seen me in ages, making me feel virtuous. I love the Wednesday quiz with its ridiculous prizes, I love the toasted sandwiches and the extra olives in my dirty dirty martinis, and I love that the staff don’t judge you for any indiscretions. I love the random conversations you will have with random strangers, and the friends you make in the toilets. My Xmas wish for you is that you get some air conditioning.

Where everyone ats your name: It should come as no surprise, given that Dom is down with the internets and all, but it seems like everyone you ever meet at Hashigozake has an @ in front of their name. Don’t let that distract you from the delicious beers and lovely service.

The best place for product launches and celebrations: Oh Bettys, you make me [sic] but you’re still so purty with all your great screens. And your punch is delish. And that Wellington on a Plate meal was one of delicious things I’ve eaten this year. 

Things that surprised me: I suppose it really shouldn’t have surprised me given how popular they are, but the Ruth Pretty catering for the Wellington on a Plate launch was so good. Her columns in the Dom Post annoy me, so I wasn’t anticipating that.

Also surprising after a lack of service so bad we walked out after going in for drinks once: the really great service at a dinner at Ancestral. Not only were they lovely with their food and wine recommendations, they also phoned the bar we said we were off to afterwards when they found I’d left my coat and goodie bag behind. Which brings me to…

So many great goodie bags! It’s a hard life editing the Wellingtonista, I tells ya. Forced to find a home for gunpowder rum, Whittaker’s Chocolate, delicious Bee’s Blessing cordials – not to mention an ever-growing collection of commemorative tea towels!

Party of the year: FishHead magainze’s one year anniversary. Any party where you can go swimming after a glass or two of wine and look down on Cuba Street while you’re doing it is just something super special.

Thing that makes good events great: Photobooths! And my pick, based on the loveliness of Dion, is the Amazing Traveling Photobooth.

Asian food galore! Obviously I went to a buttload of Malaysian restaurants, but this year (I think) has also seen Wellington finally getting some more Vietnamese food as well, with Nam in the Willis Street Village offering three courses for $25 (do it!), and also Saigon Taste on Marjoribanks Street having an extensive menu. In addition to those, I’d like to throw mad props at Asia Kitchen on Victoria Street – as well as super tasty mains and a nice atmosphere, they also offer CHOCOLATE WONTONS.

Sad thing: the closure of the retail side of Cultured Petone makes me sad. I know Wendy will continue to do amazing cheese-related things (like private fondue parties? YES PLEASE!), but I will miss being able to pop in and chat and sample and buy. Petone is still totally worth a foodie day trip though, with Ontrays, and La Bella Italia, and the Dutch Shop, and the Indian place where you can load up on Limca and vegetarian packet curries to put in your survival kit.

Other sad things? I’m pretty sure that most of the Wellingtonista wear their bleeding liberal hearts on their sleeves, so November 27 was a pretty sad day. Can we get another fuck you, Churton Park? On the bright side, there was a great result for the Greens, and former TAWA presenter Grant Robertson is now deputy Labour leader, so there’s that. And our questions for candidates did make for some lols, like Paul Foster-Bell’s solution of BUILD MOAR ROADS to improve Wellington’s environment.

The personal is political: the Queer the Night march environment was lovely made me feel all warm inside. Slutwalk was important but really hard.

Snow! Not so much fun if you live on an insanely steep street as many of us do, but it sure was pretty in this video.

A Wellington memory: On December 3, most of my friends were at the TSB Arena for roller derby but I didn’t go because it angries up my blood too much. After the earthquake, everyone was a bit shaken (ha!) so they all piled into my lounge for dumplings and wine, like they had piled into my lounge to hide from #RWC (or as it was properly titled #winteriscoming). It was a big Wellington hug after a horrible scare. Yay.

Things that others may touch on which were not for me: the film festival, all the new beer bars, sport, that sign, Basin Reserve & roading issues.

And finally, in the spirit of giving:

My current charity to support: Wellington SPCA. Also, someone should adopt these cats please.

For 2012, I hope that noone falls down the stairs at Hooch (again), and that we get a donut shop. Please can we get a donut shop?