Chances are you live a stone’s throw away from a Thai restaurant in your neighborhood, and you’ve got a go-to local favorite for pad thai. These days I often find myself traveling north of Berkeley, where there’s quite a few wonderful Thai eateries clustered in Albany, El Cerrito and San Pablo locales.
Holiday egg strata is my standard stress-free meal for a decadently delicious holiday breakfast. After trying this out a few years ago, I’ve never looked back. I love that I can make this dish the night before, so the only thing I have to do on Christmas morning is stick it in the oven.
Crispy Brussels Sprout Chips, inspired by Marlowe’s signature dish. Salty, crispy, flavorful, and best of all, a healthy dose of vegetables during this cookie-laden season.
100 pounds of sugar, 390 pounds of flour, 60 pounds of eggs, and 100 pounds of candy are among the ingredients for a ten foot tall gingerbread house at The Claremont Hotel Club & Spa. Last night at the Claremont’s annual Holiday Open House, over 200 guests showed up to see the unveiling of the big gingerbread house.
My trip to Italy got me thinking about why we don’t see chestnuts as publicly available in the Bay Area. I had a minor eureka moment and remembered that years ago the Chronicle had mentioned that you could collect chestnuts somewhere in San Mateo County. Upon my return I took a quick trip down to Skyline Chestnuts and did some gathering. Apparently, the chestnut season is fairly brief. It started mid-October and ends this weekend before Thanksgiving so if you are interested in DIY chestnut collection don’t delay!
The autumn harvest is here, brilliant with salads laced with pomegranates and red Starkrimson pears, poached quinces, shredded Brussels sprouts sauteed with pancetta. And chestnuts, lovely, shiny brown chestnuts, here roasted and pureed into a rich and elegant soup, perfect for starting any holiday meal.
As it turns out, Mele Kalikimaka really is the thing to say on a bright Hawai’ian Christmas Day. So, in honor of all my friends from The Islands Big and not-so-Big, I am saying “Merry Christmas” with a big bowl of poke. Of course, since this is a Holiday piece, I felt it necessary to make this raw tuna dish look as Christmas-y as possible, under the circumstances.
Like a lot of Christmas revelers out there, I count A Christmas Carol as my favorite holiday story. Yet my reason for loving this Dickens tale is probably a little different than you might expect. Although I find Scrooge’s metamorphoses from Bah-humbug kill joy to jolly benefactor heartwarming, I adore his transition from gruel eater to Smoking Bishop drinker even more.
One of the things I love about cooking around the holidays is experimenting with all the ingredients in my refrigerator. Although I have a great time planning our Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year’s feasts, I think I enjoy the impromptu ones even more. Take Christmas breakfast this year: although I had every intention of making cinnamon rolls the night before Christmas so we could have freshly-baked ooey gooey deliciousness in the morning, an ill-timed head cold forced me to bed early. So there we were, Christmas morning with no buns. What we did have, however, was a fridge full of fresh and luxurious holiday ingredients.
It’s no surprise that with the excessive amounts of cooking, cleaning, wrapping, and holiday stress that comes from missing family and friends, Christmas movies can really sock it to your emotional core. Give yourself a night off and huddle up with some classic homey movies, some comforting local take-out, and several boxes of Kleenexes.
Let’s face it — Christmas is not about the joy of giving and receiving. It’s not about the much-disputed birth of Christ, or miracles, or even the tarting up of pagan trees while singing Songs of Cheeses.
It’s about whether you get your chocolate on odds or evens this year. It’s about whether your older sister will force you to give her your day’s haul of chocolate. That’s right my friends, this month is ALL about Advent calendar chocolate.
It’s the Holiday Season, if you haven’t noticed. Sappy music is piped into our ears if we dare venture pretty much anywhere outside. Macy’s is back to putting live kittens in their store windows. People are stressed out at the thought of having to entertain, buy presents, and spend their dwindling piles of money.
And I’m busy– I’ve got lots of parties to go to. Because I’m that popular.
I have decided that this year, in light of my own evaporating bankroll, I shall indulge in the spirit of giving by sharing with my friends and loved ones items I have made with my own little hands. Or not so little– I have more than an octave reach, in piano terms. Not that I play the piano.
This year, I am making Bourbon Balls. No jokes, please. They contain all the vitamins and minerals necessary to get me through the Season: sugar, chocolate, and alcohol. They are relatively easy to make, but look as though I’ve slaved away at them. And they’re good. Chocolaty, not too sweet, slightly salty, and just a little boozy.