This week's tablehopper: happy (alco-)holidays!


Holiday cocktailing at Jardinière.

Why ho ho ho hello there. How you doing? Enjoying the holiday season? Getting your fill of latkes, egg nog, and sugar cookies? Speaking of sweet treats, I gotta hand it to my father, who manages to get me into the holiday spirit with just one bite. Every year he fires up the fryer and makes traditional Calabrese treats, like honey-soaked turdilli and his cuddureddi (fried ring-shaped savory donuts), and little puffs stuffed with anchovy (hated them as a kid, and now he has to fight me for them). Was delighted to see this post from Rosetta Costantino about the desserts her Calabrese family makes for the holidays. And of course I am counting the hours to our annual fish feast (La Vigilia) at my Aunt Mary and Uncle Tony’s house on Christmas Eve. Seven fishes? Hmmm, I think we have more than that. And something like 30 guests. It’s outta hand on all fronts. And for dessert? Aunt Mary is famous for her ribbon-like scalille, which is about all I can stomach after the seafood onslaught.

Since seafood is the theme of my week, it felt only appropriate to post a review of ~BAR CRUDO~ in the regular.

Still stumped on what to get for the foodie folks in your life this holiday? One of the best things you could do is buy a friend or family member tickets to the annual Menu for Hope fundraiser, full of wonderful donated culinary prizes from food bloggers and businesses around the world. For every $10 donated, you earn one virtual ticket to bid on an item of your choice. At the end of the two-week campaign, the tickets are drawn and the results are announced on Chez Pim on Monday January 18th. So not only do you donate to an amazing cause (the UN World Food Programme), but you might even win a loved one (or yourself!) a fantastic prize or two—depends on how lucky you are, and perhaps how many tickets you bid against a prize. Have a friend in Europe, or a family member on the East Coast? There are some specific regional prizes you can bid on as well. Check it out—it’s an altruistic alternative to just buying “stuff.”

The biggest thing I’m excited about is where I’m going to be in the New Year. My sis and I are heading to South India the first week of January for some vacation, and I’ll be away for three glorious weeks! We’re going to Mumbai, the beaches of Goa, the backwaters of Kerala, and then I fly home (sniff sniff) from Bengaluru. Truly can’t wait to visit that spectacular country. Anyway, I’ll have a few “hoppers in the hopper” before I leave, so you’ll still get some mail for the next few weeks. But there will be a couple weeks when I’m going dark. Anyway, more on that next week.

Lastly, wow, a lot of you wanted to come to the tablehopper Pot de Pho and Pine Ridge supper (aka Pho La La La La)! I got so many responses that we actually are taking over the entire restaurant. Woo hoo, go team. It’s going to be quite a night, packed full of tablehopper readers! As of this morning, the number of RSVPs made it a sell-out, but a few spots have just opened up. Simply email me to nab the open seats or be placed on the waiting list; I can provide you with the password to buy tickets as seats become available.

Oh, and in the “spirit” of this week’s title, I have to recommend swinging by ~JARDINIÈRE~ for a cocktail glass or two of bartender Brian MacGregor’s holiday magic, including the “chilled holiday cider” with Sazerac rye, J. Witty chamomile liqueur, apple juice, lemon, and Angostura bitters. (There’s a reason why the picture is a little crooked.)

Happy Holidays! Buon Natale! Warmest Wishes!

Marcia Gagliardi

View tablehopper Newsletter from Tuesday, Dec 22 2009