The Twelve Drinks of Winter No. 7: Mimosa vs. Buck’s Fizz

It’s a dull gray and thoroughly depressing afternoon in New York City, and just looking at this photo, which I snapped before breakfast on Christmas morning, cheers me up. I’m not suggesting that one should attempt to banish depression with booze, but a little booze, a little vitamin C, and maybe a little Blossom Dearie might be worth looking into. Continue reading …

The Twelve Drinks of Winter No. 6: Kir Royale

The Kir Royale might be the most romantic drink ever (she writes after drinking one). There are few things more joyous than champagne, and champagne tinged garnet with blackcurrant liquer has la vie en rose written all over it. It’s named after the once-mayor of Dijon, but don’t worry about it. Pour 1 part crème de cassis into a flute, top up gently with 5 parts champagne, fall in love.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Oranges and Lemons

Food often gets me thinking about literature, or history, and vice versa. This happened one afternoon recently as I trotted happily back to my office with a slice of sunny citrus-spiked loaf cake from the staff café at the Met Museum. I found myself humming the nursery song “Oranges and Lemons” and wondering what it was all about. Continue reading …

The Twelve Drinks of Winter No. 5: Hot Chocolate

There are lots of great places to sip a cup of posh hot chocolate in New York City, such as the sleek Chocolate Bar, the jewel-box-like Mariebelle, or one of Jacques Torres’ wonderlands, to name just a few. But to this chocolatarian, City Bakery and its velvety elixir reign supreme.

This year City Bakery celebrates its 17th annual hot chocolate festival for the entire month of February, and features more than twenty flavors in rotation. A few–like vanilla bean (2/10), cinnamon (2/25), and malted milk (2/26)–easily sound like hot chocolate marriages made in heaven, and they are. But my favorites tend to be owner/genius Maury Rubin’s quirkier, more adventurous concoctions. On opening night, I sampled a cup of ginger (very good) and drank much of my companion’s banana peel (brilliant) while he wasn’t looking. And I’ll be returning for a few flavors I’ve never tried before: passion fruit cream (2/11), Arabian Nights (I don’t know what it means, but I hope it’s spicy; 2/12), and bourbon (2/27). Bourbon + chocolate = Thank you, Mr. Rubin.

Check out the full calendar of flavors.

If you can’t get to the festival, you can always make your own.

Update (2/14): City Bakery has changed its calendar of flavors a bit since I wrote this post. Rascals. I swear I didn’t make up the passion fruit cream.

Venus in the Kitchen*


This afternoon, I prowled the food section of my local bookstore looking for a laugh. More specifically, I had in mind those books that creep from the miscellaneous cooking shelf to show up on seasonal display tables every Valentine’s Day. I mean the sexy cookbooks.

I do this every year, mostly because I love to make fun of them. They have absurd titles like Fork Me, Spoon Me: The Sensual Cookbook, [take a deep breath] Booty Food: A Date By Date, Nibble by Nibble, Course by Course Guide to Cultivating Love and Passion Through Food, and InterCourses: An Aphrodisiac Cookbook, which is apparently such a classic in the field that it was given a 10th anniversary edition in 2007. And the covers, oh the covers. The Seduction Cookbook: Culinary Creations For Lovers by Diane Brown depicts a spoonful of honey being drizzled onto a disturbingly sculpted abdomen of ambiguous gender. But the aforementioned Fork Me, Spoon Me takes the prize in the cover art category: a nude woman (is that the author, Amy Reiley, Master of Gastronomy herself?) sits on the floor before an open fridge, making come-hither eyes at the viewer while nibbling a strawberry. With one leg provocatively raised, she is like a foodie Danaë, waiting to be ravished by Zeus in the form of a golden rain of bubbly. Continue reading …

The Twelve Drinks of Christmas Winter No. 4: Hot Buttered Rum


I learned about hot buttered rum from watching the film White Christmas as a small child. In one scene, Bing Crosby waxes poetic on the joys of a winter in Vermont, listing “hot buttered rum, light on the butter” as one of them. I was certain even then that when I was old enough to drink one, my rum would be thickly buttered. The following may be as light or as heavy on the butter as you wish. Continue reading …

The Twelve Drinks of Christmas Winter No. 3: Egg Nog

The quintessential Christmas tipple, egg nog is worth a second mention. For the recipe, see Egg Nog For the Neurotic from December ‘06.

The Twelve Drinks of Christmas Winter No. 2: Moscow Mule

The Moscow Mule is a zingy combination of vodka, lime, and ginger beer (gingerale’s spicier, sassier big sister who, like a mule, knows how to kick). It was born in 1941 when three friends–Jack Morgan, a ginger beer producer, John G. Martin, a liquor distributor, and Rudolph Kunett, president of the vodka division of Martin’s company–put their heads together in the bar of New York’s Chatham Hotel. Though it wasn’t conceived as a seasonal drink, I think it’s a nice choice for warm-weather Christmases and the occasionally sultry December day–like the one just passed–here in New York.
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The Twelve Drinks of Christmas Winter No. 1: Frosty Morning Drink

The Frosty Morning Drink is for making with one eye open and taking back to bed with you on a winter morning when coffee isn’t appropriate because you have every intention of falling back to sleep.
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Pain Relief

In times of stress and heartache I turn up the heat in my cooking. I hadn’t really faced this until recently, when on my third consecutive day of fiery red curry I paused to consider as I rubbed an ice cube over my chile-scorched fingers. Stress and spicy food seem to have a long-term relationship in my life: in high school I carried a tiny bottle of Tabasco sauce in the breast pocket of my coat at all times, as an antidote to angst-ridden lunchtimes. Years later, in the throes of romantic despair, I became a prolific baker of very, very hot pepper-spiked cheddar muffins.
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