Check out these 5 restaurants from around the world and their holiday surprises to the diner, via WSJ.

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Holiday punch was out of fashion even in Charles Dickens’ day, but he loved the old recipes for it. And as described in this NPR story with David Wondrich on his book Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl, punch was created by 17th-century British-empire-building sailors whose beer spoiled in tropical heat. They would have used rum and brandy and lots of it for punch with serious punch. Today for me it has a whiff of the 1950s, and does bring to mind sherbet for some reason, but as Wondrich points out in the NPR piece, punch is not a cocktail or pedestrian glass of generic Chardonnay—that is, an individual and isolating libation strategy. It is, rather, a communal and group drink, a social drink, a shared drink. I talk a lot about the Read On »

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“You’re not going to be happy,” Bill said. Bill was the editor of Ruhlman’s Twenty, the guy who more or less line-drived it into play. I was meeting him at Chronicle’s offices for the first time. “Why not?” “Twenty‘s going to be sold out.” “I thought you printed a lot of copies.” “Not enough.” “It’s December 1st, Bill—this is, like, the biggest book-buying month of the year.” “I know.” Which is why he said I was going to be unhappy. It wasn’t even on Kindle yet (which is how I usually read my copy today, because of the search function). And which is why I’m printing one of my favorite recipes from the book below. And re-promoting it as a Superlative and Timeless Work of Culinary Artistry, as fun to read in bed as it Read On »

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I can already feel Donna rolling her eyes. I’m like that, um, ham, who runs out onto a Broadway stage and flings out his arms … and then silence. Well, it is my theater here, and I don’t exactly sell tickets, and at least it’s not a political ad! Brian Polcyn and I are very proud of our new book, Salumi: The Italian Craft of Dry Curing, about how to make your own pancetta, guanciale, coppa, and other dry-cured wonders in the grand and ancient tradition of Italy. There’s a reason one of the oldest examples of early civilization still exists. Because everyone can do it, and because it’s delicious. Granted, not everyone wants a piece of meat hanging from the chandelier for three weeks, but for those demented and wonderful souls who do, this book is Read On »

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  I get sent so many cookbooks we had to build more shelves. So while I don’t get deluged the way the NYTBR does, I do see a good deal of what’s being published. The stuff I get seems to be what publishers are most hopeful about (and therefore worth the price of the book and postage). I will note below the books that I actually purchased (because I already have more cookbooks than I need or even want, that’s saying something), as well as my pick for favorite book of the season (it’s not my own, btw). I was sent the above Modernist Cuisine at Home by Nathan Myhrvold with chef Maxime Bilet, a pared-down version of the incredible multi-volume version published last year. Myhrvold was peeved by my 90% positive and awe-struck review in the NYTimes (that’s an Read On »

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