The idea: With Food Network star Guy Fieri and comedian Judy Gold as my guides, find the best spots for Super Bowl-style grub in Manhattan.
The reality: Fire up “When Harry Met Sally” and loop it on the diner scene (yes, the moaning). Now blast a laugh track, then add a profanity-spewing rabbi, enough X-rated commentary to render much of the evening’s dialogue unquotable, and such gluttonous portions of high-fat food that by the end at least one of us would be vomiting.
You have a sense of the evening. Which is to say, pairing up with Fieri and Gold was more amusing, but less helpful, than hoped.
In keeping with what’s considered a good-luck tradition in northern Europe, Kim Wall will toast the new year with pickled herring, marinated either in wine sauce or with sour cream and chives. Wall owns Baensch Food Products Co. in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood, which has produced Ma Baensch’s Marinated Herring since 1932.
The tradition has its roots in the Baltic Sea region. Herring is an abundant food source in the region, and it’s thought to bring abundance in the upcoming year for people who consume it on New Year’s Eve. The silvery color of the fish resembles coins, which adds to its aura as a harbinger of riches.
When the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31, you will probably be toasting friends and loved ones with a flute of Champagne in honor of another year survived and the prospects that lay ahead.
To make the experience especially memorable, augment your bubbly with some stylish cocktails.
Let’s all stop being coy and fess up, shall we? The truth is, even those of us who work with cookbooks, write about cookbooks, collect cookbooks — heck, even write cookbooks ourselves — don’t actually cook from cookbooks. At least not nearly as frequently as we tell others we do.
As food has morphed ever more into a pop culture fixture, cookbooks — with their lush photos, their provocative prose, their tempting, come-hither recipes — have become the porn of the food set.
You’re throwing a holiday gathering for a few friends. You want the vibe to be upbeat and upscale, but you don’t want to break the bank with beverage costs. What do you serve?
Why, wine, of course. You are well past the kegger days, and stocking the liquor cabinet for everyone’s cocktail preferences is too varied and expensive. The right wines can lend elegance and sophistication to your affair. Wine pairs well with food and can help you keep costs in line. Your friends may even make some exciting wine discoveries among the glasses you pour.
But there’s the rub. How do you choose from among the literally thousands of wines available today? How do you serve them properly? And is that $100 Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon you covet really 50 times better than the Two Buck Chuck that has become your everyday plonk?
Here are some ideas to help you better navigate the thickets and vineyards of Wine Service 101.
Decide on a theme. Yes, it’s the holiday season, but everyone will be taking the same old winter-wonderland approach. You can, too, of course, but by adding a creative or thematic spin to the event, the décor or the menu you can make your gathering memorable.
If you’re looking for a gift that’s almost certain to please everyone on your gift list, look no further than your favorite local restaurant.
According to the National Restaurant Association survey, 60 percent of those polled said they’d like to receive a restaurant gift card as a gift. Of those, 29 percent said they’d like to get one from a restaurant they haven’t been to before.
There are plenty of restaurants to choose from. The association counts more than 980,000 restaurants in the United States, and Wisconsin has more than its fair share of interesting eateries of all kinds and price ranges.
Here are four reasons the association recommends giving restaurant gift cards for the holidays this year:
Drive south from downtown Milwaukee into the Walker’s Point neighborhood, where you can enjoy some of the best farm-to-table food in a city that prides itself on being the heart of America’s Dairyland.
Your first stop should be La Merenda, a tapas bar where farmers and artisanal food producers vie to get on the menu. With so many restaurants naming their suppliers these days, serving local food seems unremarkable and increasingly faddish. But Peter Sandroni and a growing group of like-minded chefs have demonstrated the power of buying locally.
When Sandroni opened La Merenda in an old woodworking shop seven years ago, Walker’s Point had only one truly notable restaurant, Peggy Magister’s Crazy Water, a pricey-by-Milwaukee-standards bistro with a quietly loyal clientele.
Move over, microbreweries! Back off, boutique wineries! Wisconsin’s craft distillers are emerging with locally sourced products for drinkers who want to imbibe some Badger State spirits.
Like their beer- and wine-producing counterparts, craft distillers produce small-batch spirits tailored to their own tastes and designed to appeal to the liquid locavore. Some of these businesses are small one-distiller operations, others are offshoots of successful wineries — and all offer a unique signature spin.
Many produce vodka, the starter spirit for most craft distillers because it’s the quickest route to profitability. Others specialize in unusual concoctions, including the once-banned absinthe, “white” whiskey and “crancello,” a local version of the popular limoncello that features cranberries, one of the state’s top crops.
The only limits on new products, it seems, are distillers’ imaginations.
Potato latkes may be the best-known variety of this crispy staple of Hanukkah meals, but don’t feel you need to limit yourself to them.
Though potatoes have their own symbolism for this Jewish holiday, it’s the oil used in the frying that is particularly significant. It symbolizes the long-lasting oil burned in the temple lamps in the Hanukkah story. There are many latke variations, including sweet potato, onion and carrot.
Since the first day of Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving this year, we drew on a staple of that all-American holiday to make a delicious variation — pumpkin latkes. We top ours with a cranberry-spiked sour cream, but applesauce would be just as delicious.
New York City has a zillion charms, but it may not be the ideal place to celebrate Halloween. Here’s the problem — where do you display your jack-o’-lantern if you live in an apartment building with no porch?
Then again, my family and I are New Yorkers, and a little defect like this was not going to keep us from carving scary faces into pumpkins. As a kid, I loved this kind of project, even though — or because? — it was so messy. It also was kind of dangerous, given the sharp knives required.
For four days beginning Oct. 17, more than 9,000 visitors, a multitude of celebrity chefs and food vendors will descend upon the normally sleepy town of Kohler.
In fact, the Kohler Food & Wine Experience, entering its 13th year at The American Club, has such strong advance sales that organizers expect record-breaking crowds. Big draws this year include: Food Network star Cat Cora (the first female contestant on “Iron Chef” and co-host of “Around the World in 80 Plates” on the Bravo Channel); Fabio Viviani, owner and executive chef of two noted California restaurants and Siena Tavern in Chicago; and the Beekman Boys, stars of a reality TV show on the Cooking Channel in which they are transplanted from New York City to Beekman Farm in upstate New York.