Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Artistry and Candy Canes

Today's Seattle Times published this article about these candy cane trees made in Woodinville, Washington. When I lived in Seattle I used to like to visit Woodinville's Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery, but at the time I had no idea that Elegant Gourmet existed--they're one of the few hand-pulled candy makers left in the country. How I would love to buy some of these for our upcoming Christmas party!

Speaking of which, I've spent my non-work hours perusing possible recipes for next weekend's bash chez nous, and I've just about got my half of the menu solidified. I'm very excited--it includes both greatest hits and some newbies! More on all that very soon...

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanksgiving Recap

Now that I've digested my turkey and stabilized my tryptophan levels, I can share a bit about my Thanksgiving weekend in Michigan. We had near record attendance at the LaReau Turkey Trot this year, with over 35 runners and walkers and nearly 40 for the outdoor breakfast afterwards. As many of you know, this 15-year tradition was featured in a national magazine last year--perhaps the publicity pumped up this year's attendance. (More likely it was the beautiful weather that was responsible for this fabulous crowd.) We had the usual post-run fare of cranberry muffins, pumpkin bread, hot cider, hot spiced apples, and my dad's drumstick-shaped Rice Krispie Treats. It was so great to see everyone I grew up with--I think this is my favorite holiday tradition of all time.

Back in Columbus, I took a walk around our neighborhood tonight and was surprised at the number of people who have put up their Christmas trees already. Not me--I like a little transition time between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

In other news--writing news, that is--my article on hot chocolate (with two great recipes!) was recently published in Lake magazine.

Monday, November 20, 2006

A Good Pre-Holiday Read for the Thirsty

Even non-foodies like to pick up culinary glossies during the holiday season, and even if you're not a foodie-mag-reading type of guy or gal, I highly recommend perusing a copy of this month's Imbibe. I found it at Liberty Books and News, (whose periodical selection is incredible) but it's also available at Borders and Barnes & Noble. It's filled to the brim not only with guides to spirited holiday cocktails, but also with interesting roundups of products like coffees, tea infusers, even the history of the egg cream soda, a New York classic. (Which, interestingly enough, contains neither egg nor cream. Knowing this seemingly useless tidbit of information gave me the edge I needed to win an uber-competitive Trivial Pursuit game once. Perhaps this is another good reason to read Imbibe.)

Here's a few other things you'll find in the November/December issue:
-A "how-to" guide to Irish coffee
-A taste test of seven premium drinking chocolates
-A recipe for Guinness chocolate cupcakes
-Five affordable champagne alternatives

Thursday, November 16, 2006

What to Do this Weekend

Food for the body:
The Clintonville Farmers' Market is hosting a special post-season, pre-Thanksgiving market day on Saturday from 9:30am-11:30am. (Hat tip: Em) Come on out and embrace the cold, and pick up some farm-fresh eats for the week as well!

Food for the mind:
The Thurber House hosts Adam Gopnik at the CCAD on Friday night at 7:30pm. See you there!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrive!

Tomorrow is Beaujolais Nouveau day! I've written all about it in today's Dispatch, complete with a list of places offering tastings. It's the perfect pour to complement the many flavors of a Thanksgiving feast. (Or a houseful of people with different wine tastes.) I plan on sampling at Gentile's or The North Market tomorrow.

Read all about it here. A vos sante!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Giada v. Rachael Smackdown

I'm not a regular Iron Chef viewer, but I can't wait to watch Giada and Rachael duke it out on the Food Network this Sunday at 9 p.m, with Bobby Flay and Mario Batali as their respective sous-chefs. (We even have a "game watch" in the works with some friends.) This promises to be every bit as exciting as the upcoming Irish-Trojan matchup, which I'm also eagerly anticipating.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Thanksgiving Help

Whether you're attending or hosting this year, here are some links to help you with your turkey day prep:
  • Turkey butter sculptures from Keller's Creamery. (Scroll down to see.)
  • Turkey tea lights from Sur la Table. (I love these!)
  • Herbes de Provence from Williams-Sonoma. (To give your turkey that certain je ne sais quoi.)
  • Pear, pomegranate, persimmon and apple candles from Pottery Barn.
  • Cool ceramic vegetables for your table from Crate and Barrel.
  • The Dispatch's Robin Davis is hosting an online Thanksgiving chat next Wednesday from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. Ask your question ahead of time here.
  • For the kitchen-averse with disposable income, Wild Oats is offering fully-cooked Thanksgiving dinners. (How sad is that?)
  • All the holiday hotlines you could possibly need.
  • Turkey in a box decorating kit from Plum Party.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Great Wines for Your Holiday Soirees

Guess what: Boxed wines are back! (I wasn't yet born when they were happenin' in the first place, but I recently heard a segment on KCRW's Good Food about how wine producers have been introducing some really great boxed wines lately. In fact, it's the most booming sector of the American wine market right now. I know! I know! They're so much bulkier, so much more gauche and clumsy than a bottle. Perhaps it's not as romantic as popping the cork over dinner with your sweetie, but the new packaging is actually quite attractive. Boxed wines, holding three liters each, would be great for a swingin' holiday bash. Here are some of the recommended varieties:
  • Black Box sells a swanky, black-tie-looking 3-liter box that keeps for 4 weeks after opening. (Available in all 50 states.)
  • Dtour sells the incredibly cool wine tube at a price that amounts to less than $10 per bottle.
  • Three Thieves offers colorful boxes and jugs.

Ohio state law prohibits the wine purveyors from listing the stores that carry these wines, but don't worry, Columbusites, I'm going to do some research and get back to you so you'll be well stocked for feting your friends this holiday season!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Tiny Turkeys You'll Love

As Thanksgiving approaches, lots of mail-order chocolatiers are peddling tiny chocolate turkeys for placesettings. I think these cocoa-laden toms add some admittedly hokey (but fun) flair to the table and provide a modest chocolate fix during a holiday that is traditionally devoid of chocolate. If you'd like to festoon your turkey day table with these confections or bring some to your holiday hosts, here are some options:
  • Lake Champlain Chocolates sells placesetting turkeys in dark and milk chocolate, as well as centerpiece turkeys, which might be a better option if you don't know exactly how many guests you're going to have. ($3.50 and $18.00, respectively)
  • L.A. Burdick's turkeys are hand-piped with a clementine ganache and almond feathers. Their decorative gift box is really nice. ($15.50 for four)
  • Moonstruck's turkeys (my favorite) come in the form of mocha-flavored truffles decorated as Tom turkeys. ($14.00 for four)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Joy of Cooking, v. 3.0

A new, 75th-anniversary edition of the culinary classic Joy of Cooking has just been released, and the food world has been aflutter with commentary and reviews. This cookbook has a fascinating history! (Not exactly free of drama and pathos.) I had no idea, as I'd never been a Joy user until recently. (And Ethan Becker, the inheritor of the Rombauer-Becker Joy legacy, lives in Cincinnati.) A couple of weeks ago I picked up a discounted copy at The Book Loft in German Village, as my friend and colleague Tami of Woodhaven Farm fame tells me it's a cook's bible!

Some perspectives: