The era of the harried home cook, working alone behind closed doors to prepare a formal dinner, has largely come to an end. The new entertaining paradigm is fun, casual, interactive. This December holiday issue celebrates that enormous change with great ideas for parties, and wonderful recipes and wines to match.
For the Christmas meal itself, we visit a potluck hosted by the owners of Baked, a nouveau-retro bakery in Brooklyn, New York, for staffers who can't travel home to their families. As it turns out, the Baked crew are as talented at making cheese fondue and potpies as they are at baking cakes and cookies.
In another unusual approach to potluck, two women in Napa Valley who call themselves the Cheesewhizzes invite their guests to both BYOB and BYOC (Bring Your Own Cheese). For the party on our pages, they focus on sparkling winean unexpectedly good partner for cheese and, of course, a super holiday choice.
Boston chef Ken Oringer has perfected another inventive type of party: He combines a trip to a Christmas-tree farm with a tailgate. His Cuban sandwiches (warmed and crisped on a portable grill) and gooey caramel-pecan bars are amazing, though I can't say I'd want to eat them with mittened hands beside the back of a truck.
A more suitable role model for me is author Eugenia Bone. She is a spirited home cook and mother of two who entertains often, always with curiosity and joy. Last year we asked her to keep a food diary for the month of December, now reproduced in this issue. Her recipe journal has me scrambling to make her awesome blueberrysour cream muffins, meatballs and peas with marinara sauce and lentil soup with smoked turkey. I'd prepare them for a potluck, a tailgate or even just a simple meal at home with my familykitchen doors wide open.
Where I'm Coming From
Notes from a Recent Trip to Europe:
Hix Oyster & Chop House
Had a magnificently simple hanger steak with superindulgent baked marrow mixed with bread crumbs.
Discovered at this swanky, fish-focused restaurant that pan-fried slip soles aren't cooked shoes but delicious baby fillets of sole.
Ate Caesar salad and salmon tartare, classics reinvented with extraordinary attention to detail, at this stylish restaurant in the fabulous Hôtel de Crillon.
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