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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  Cocktail Name Winner “Major Award,” from Stefan Was, of Cleveland, OH This was chosen from many, many wonderful names, by Paulius and Claudia, and I whole-heartedly embrace this great and elegant name, in its saying Cleveland without using Cleveland, its nuanced suggestion of Christmas and fun without saying either. Poetry! “Major Award” is a reference, of course, to one of my favorite movies, “A Christmas Story,” which opens in Cleveland’s Public Square. Donna and I never see a box with “Fragile” written on it without saying aloud, “Fra-GEE-lay.” Darren McGavin’s major award was of course, the famous leg lamp. Stop by Paulius’s Velvet Tango Room, and you’ll see the lamp in an upstairs window. Stefan, Paulius says come on in and you’ll have a Major Award on the house. I’ll get a copy of 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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Yep, the good folks at Sous Vide Supreme are doing a promotional giveaway of one of their superb sous vide appliances—and a vacuum sealer! (Details below.) About ten years ago, sous vide cooking (cooking food at low precise temperatures) entered the professional kitchen in America. It’s now solidly in the home kitchen with various devices for sale. For the best price/quality ratio, Sous Vide Supreme has, since its arrival in 2009, been my favorite tool. It’s fabulous for home use. I slow-cook beef ribs for 48 hours for tender and juicy ribs. You can transform eggs in ways no other method can. I love putting a soft-boiled egg into soups, as in the above ramen dish. I use it monthly to make a big batch of yogurt. It’s a great water bath for cooking custards, meatloaf, Read On »

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