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Holiday Food & Drink

Secret Jardin

So here’s how you want to spend your New Year’s Eve. You want to go to Paris, and you want friends of yours to coincidentally be there at the same time. You want these very glamorous friends to be close friends, in turn, with Traci des Jardins ( jardiniè

Hot Stuff

I recently returned from Paris, and I want to share with you a very European and delicious way to warm up your winter. As you know, we Americans love coffee: tumbler-size containers of espresso and steamed milk, carried with us nearly everywhere we go. The French aren’t like that. When you order a coffee, you get a little cup that looks like it belongs in a tea party. Even when you specify “café crème”—i.e. add some milk please—you barely get six ounces of liquid.

Christmas Recap

As everyone who had the bad luck to be in our office right before Christmas already knows—thanks to mass emails begging for a pudding mold, an instant-read thermometer and/or a food processor—this year I decided to make a plum pudding. (I can’t help it. I grew up in New England.)

Here’s a tip for other recovering East Coasters: Dried citron is damned hard to find, at least if you try the usual “gourmet” suspects, like Sur La Table, Williams-Sonoma, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. Whole Foods did have some very nice candied lemon, but who really came through? Good old Safeway.

Hard Living

Every Christmas my mom bakes. A lot. This year, because we’re going to be in Mexico for the holiday, she “only” made a few things: makowiec, an Eastern European bread aswirl with raisins, almonds and poppy seeds; limpa, a Swedish molasses-based bread with anise; sweet potato refrigerator rolls (her new favorite thing; see for a recipe) and my personal favorite—persimmon pudding with hard (bourbon) sauce.

Let Them Eat...Cupcakes

One of the perks of being a food writer is getting free samples. Recently we got to try a few cupcakes that had just been photographed for Elizabeth Falkner’s upcoming cookbook, Demolition Desserts: Recipes from Citizen Cake (to be published in September 2007 by Ten Speed Press). The book will include an entire chapter on cupcakes.

The two we tried, pictured below, were decadent and delicious. My favorite part? The filling, which reminds me of eating Hostess cupcakes, only these are obviously much more refined.

Fruit and Cake

How many foods these days can truthfully claim to be traditional “Christmas” foods? Turkey—no. Turkey is Thanksgiving food re-used by unimaginative Americans a month later. Ham is very Easter, but more generally just a holiday food. Pumpkin pie, cookies, yams—all the things we eat at Christmas have associations with other holidays.
Face it: The one food that says “Christmas” and only “Christmas” is fruitcake. Which we all agree sucks. But not the lighter, airier, less sweet and less fruity Italian version of fruitcake: panettone.

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