Entertainment,  Food & Drink

Best & Worst of 2015

Another year has come and gone. I don’t know about you, but 2015 was a crazy year for V for Vetrano. I spent most of it enjoying Nashville’s blossoming metropolis, continuing my fight to find balance between professional and personal and adding new faces to the growing LIV community. I learned a lot about myself this year [cue Ozzy Osbourne‘s “Changes”]. I started new jobs and ended old ones. Made new friends, while saying goodbye to others. And made life changing decisions that impact my future.

While most of 2015 left me unsettled, hopping from one thing to another, the year’s final hours have turned out to be the best few weeks of the entire year and have prepared me for an exciting 2016. But before we jump off the deep end into 2016, let’s look back at what made the last year so epic.

What made 2015 rock and what am I more than happy to leave in ’15? I’ve compiled my annual picks for the best & worst of 2015 below. After you check out my list, share your thoughts, feedback and your picks in the comments below.


Best New Artist: Maren Morris
I first saw Maren Morris dazzle at a songwriter’s round in Nashville, where she belted out “Second Wind,” a track she wrote for Kelly Clarkson’s latest record. When her self-titled EP dropped exclusively on Spotify a few months later, I was instantly drawn to her clever songwriting and powerhouse voice. It won’t surprise me if, in 2016, Morris has everyone wishing they were a “90’s baby in an 80’s Mercedes.”

Album of the Year: Piece By Piece, Kelly Clarkson 
It’s no secret that Taylor Swift and Adele delivered major releases that topped the charts most of the year, but America’s original Idol Kelly Clarkson failed to impress on the charts with her latest release Piece By Piece. As far as pop records go though, Clarkson delivered on all levels with this year’s release. A more mature and softer record for the vocalist. It’s just a shame it didn’t perform the way it should have. Read my full review of Piece By Piece here.

Song of the Year: “Hello,” Adele 
If you didn’t hear this (or any of the songs from Adele’s 25) this year, you should come out of hiding and get your hearing checked. In the final months of the year, Adele went from starring vocalist to living legend. Her powerful return to music was ushered effortlessly in with the lead single “Hello.” There’s nothing more to say that everyone else isn’t already saying about Adele this year, so just listen to the song and let it speak for itself. And let’s be honest, since its release, answering the phone will never be the same.

Biggest Disappointment: Purpose, Justin Bieber
One of the most hyped returns to music this year was Justin Bieber. And after the successful lead singles “What Do You Mean?” and “Sorry” were released, it seemed the album would live up to the hype. Unfortunately though, when the album dropped, I asked less “What Do You Mean?” and more “what was he thinking?.” The album — other than the radio-friendly singles — is boring and sounds like a compilation of demos passed on by Chris Brown. Next!

Movie of the Year: Trainwreck 
If I was to choose an Entertainer of the Year for my list, it would be definitely be Amy Schumer. A fan since her early Comedy Central days, I’ve followed her career as it’s started to blossom in 2014. In 2015 though, Schumer’s comedy exploded from all angles. Her wildly successful first film Trainwreck put the actress comedian on another stratosphere of fame. Not to mention, the film made me laugh (obvs), cry (it’s true, don’t judge) and blush. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, get it on DVD, BluRay or iTunes now.

Biggest Waste of Time: Fifty Shades of Grey 
Never read the books and don’t plan to, but decided to watch the film to see what all the over-sexed hype was about. Boring! The chemistry between the two leads and the spotty storyline made me embarrassed to admit I even sat through the whole thing. To the upcoming sequel, I say: ‘Mr. Vetrano will not see you now.’

Guiltiest Pleasure on TV: Scream Queens
When Ryan Murphy delivers fresh new shows to TV, I typically tune in to see what it’s about. His ability to create an instant cult classic is unmatched. That continues with Murphy’s Fall Fox series Scream Queens. Emma Roberts shines in her role as Chanel Oberlin, who will likely provide quotable insults, quips and complaints for years to come. Though the series may have made a better movie, I anxiously awaited to see what Chanel and her posse of Chanel’s got into each week. If you haven’t seen the first season yet, what are you idiot hookers waiting for?

Best Series: Inside Amy Schumer 
Amy Schumer is a comedic genius and did everything right this year. See “Movie of the Year” above. That’s all I need to say about this.

Best New Show: UnReal 
I got a chance to preview Lifetime’s new series UnReal before it premiered early this year and, while I expected very little, ended up becoming mildly obsessed with the series. Having come from a background on reality TV, I found the show well-written and relatable, although exaggerated for drama. A “realistic” wakeup call at how unreal reality TV really is, this show is a welcomed new series in my weekly lineup. I’m already anticipating Season 2.

Worst New Series: Dash Dolls 
As if we weren’t already tired of seeing the constant reruns of Keeping Up With The Kardashians on E!, the channel debuted Dash Dolls this year. A disgusting series following the “slores” who “work” at the famous sisters’ Dash stores, while living in the same house. The show was an embarrassing and horrifying view at what girls aspiring to be a Kardashian grow up to be. After seeing just a few minutes of one episode, I now officially hope I never have daughters… like them.

Best Transformation: Demi Lovato  
This year, Demi Lovato flawlessly transformed from troubled teen-Queen to sexy pop starlet. Her album Confident kicked off a more mature and sexy Lovato that was more effortless than Bruce’s transition to Caitlyn. Her lead single “Cool For The Summer” provided the anthem of the warmer months and her vocal talent got a chance to shine beyond her Disney roots. Well done, Demi!

Music Video of the Year: “I Am Invincible,” Cassadee Pope 
Just watch it and be inspired. You’ll understand why I named People’s Choice nominee for Best Female Vocalist Cassadee Pope’s new single as my pick for the Music Video of the Year.


Best Dish: House Made Belly Ham Pizza, City House
Since my arrival in Nashville, City House has been consistent in their delicious offerings. While Music City fills in with exciting new restaurants and tasty fare, City House’s house made pork belly pizza remains one of my go to dishes. Ordered with the egg on top adds the perfect accompaniment to take this dish from yum-o to wowza!

Favorite New Restaurant: Avo 
“Vegan” and “raw” have never been regular vocabulary in my world, but with the arrival of Jess Rice’s menu at Nashville’s first raw restaurant Avo, I became a believer. Inventive and delicious takes on some of my favorite dishes (Pad Thai, pasta with pesto sauce), this raw restaurant has found a way to make them all. Avo is a welcomed new addition to Nashville’s food scene and a staple in my restaurant rotation. Read more about Avo here.

Best Dive Bar: Jack Brown’s Burger Joint
Alright, you caught me! This burger joint just opened this year and offers the best Wagyu burgers this city has to offer, but it’s simple decor is inspired by a hole-in-the-wall gem where everyone knows your name.  And after spending most of my late summer nights sitting on their sprawling back patio, everyone does know mine. Jack Brown’s Burger Joint is more than Nashville’s best dive bar, it’s also the best new burger in Music City.

Favorite New Recipe: Cauliflower Mash
When trying to pick my favorite new recipe of the year, I found it quite easy to choose. When Joe and I were playing around with some ideas for his ‘Feys Lift’ feature on starch alternatives, we stumbled across this idea that cauliflower could stand-in for your favorite potato side dishes. After this mash was born, it accompanied most of my meals in the last year. See it, and other starch alternative recipes, here.

Drink of the Year: Kayne Prime, Autumn Rye  
When the 5 o’clock hour rolled around in 2015, it was hard to resist the urge to find a seat at Kayne Prime’s premiere bar top for a sip of their signature cocktail, the Autumn Rye. Bartender, David Norrbom, delivers perfection with this inventive whiskey cocktail.

Best Happy Hour: Silo 
My neighborhood got a little more lush when Silo opened it’s doors to a daily Happy Hour that includes $5 cocktails, $4 wine and $3 beer selections. The perfect place to meet before dinner, or after work, Silo became my go-t0 for the happiest hours of the year.

Worst Overall Experience: 5th & Taylor
A new Nashville restaurant that over promises and under delivers. I was excited about this new location after much hype about the team involved and the close proximity to my house. After several trips to this beautifully decorated space, I continued to be underwhelmed by the flavorless offerings and terrible service. I hope this location has a long list of resolutions to clean up their act this new year.

Trend Most Likely to Succeed: Brunch
When I moved to Nashville, a regular Sunday brunch goer, I was excited to dive into a whole new city’s options for brunch. Unfortunately, Music City’s offerings were slim to none. As the city expanded this year though, so did a lot of the city’s best restaurants’ hours. Brunch is now a service at many fine places and I am happy to have tried most. With lines out the door for most of these weekend-only hours, I don’t see this trend going away anytime soon.

Fashion / Shopping

Best Dressed Celebrity: Jennifer Lawrence  
It’s no surprise that the leading female actress of the year, who had two blockbuster films during the holiday season, is my pick for best dressed of the year. Her comfortable style choices always stuns, whether strolling down the street or turning heads down a red carpet.

Fashion Disaster of the Year: Miley Cyrus
Though her aim may have been to land titles like the one I’ve given her, Miley Cyrus’ bizarre and often inappropriate style choices this year make her a shoe in for Worst Dressed. The host of this year’s VMA’s took risks that failed to make any real impact and her fashion choices seemed to cost as much as her last album, which she gave away online for free.

Most In Need of a Makeover: Harry Styles 
As One Direction prepares for their final farewell, the boybander with the most potential for successfully launching a solo effort has some work to do with his look. Fashionably on point (at times), the hair has got to go. Greasy, untamed locks make Harry Styles look like he’s got none of what his last name suggests. Styles.

Must Have Looks: Trumaker
Made to measure is often overpriced and unattainable. That changed for men this year with the arrival of Trumaker. Made to measure suits, blazers and casual and business shirts, this new fashion brand is taking style of guys everywhere up a couple notches. For more information about Trumaker, or to get your made-to-measure looks, click here.


Best Dining Experience: Vue on 30a
When I vacationed in Destin with my family this summer, I wanted to find an offering that would satisfy both my stomach and my desire to eat ocean-side. Vue on 30A was the answer for both. Serving up some of the freshest and most delicious fare, this place would be a must-try no matter where it was located. But the natural ocean backdrop lives up to the restaurant’s name.

Biggest Disappointment: Taco Mac
When I was in Atlanta early in 2015 to see Ariana Grande during her stop through the ATL, I needed to find a quick, but delicious bite near the venue where she’d be performing. Taco Mac seemed to have what I was looking for, but when I discovered that this place offered neither Tacos nor Mac of any variety, I couldn’t help but be disappointed. Instead, it offers the most disgusting food and drink menu I’ve had. Taco Bell would have been more appropriate — at least you know what you’re getting there.

Easiest Transportation Tool: Lyft
The easiest, most friendly ride sharing tool available in 2015 is Lyft. After several poor experiences with Uber and their drivers, I became exclusively loyal to the pink mustaches on the road. And with the addition of Lyft Line in most major cities, it’s a great way to meet new people on the road, too.

Favorite City to Explore: Atlanta 
I didn’t get out of Nashville much this year, but when I did I took in as much of the cities I was in. Atlanta is a spot that I’ve visited regularly and even lived in for a couple months, but never got the chance to explore all it had to offer. When I visited earlier in the year, I finally got a chance to see all it had to offer, including a trip to its wonderful Aquarium.

Well, that does it for 2015. I can’t wait to see what we get up to in the new year. Let’s get wild, shall we?

Until then, have a safe New Year’s Day and I’ll see you all more in 2016!

V for Vetrano