Friday, December 18, 2009

holidays = food and shopping

Oh, The Holidays! The one time of year that I'm operating nearly at the (ludicrous) speed of my brain. I love the season and am always somewhat relieved when it's over.

Had my office party at One Midtown Kitchen, which put together an excellent lunch for us. If you ever go there and they offer you hand-rolled gnocchi with root vegetables, you should take them up on that. (Though beware: they seem to enjoy sneaking bits of delicious meat into things that are ostensibly vegetarian. Like hand-rolled gnocchi with root vegetables. I personally enjoy charcuterie, but I wasn't expecting to find slices of it on top of my vegetarian option.) But yes, I only spilled prosecco on one person, and that person wasn't even my boss. Success!

Went back to Prohibition last night, and found the establishment to be much more -- well, established. They found a rotary dial for their phone booth (which I'm glad I didn't have to deal with after I'd had any drinks 'cause I'd nearly forgotten how those work), turned off the flat-screen, and were operating with comfortable ease. I had a tiny but satisfying bowl of gnocchi (my current obsession?) with a wonderful salty cheese crust (though I didn't detect any of the duck the menu said was in there -- perhaps it got overwhelmed by the cheese?). And Darrell poured me a Gin-Gin Mule (ginger beer and gin with a sprig of mint, warming and cooling at the same time), a whisky cocktail I didn't catch the name of involving lemon juice & peel (very smokey and grown-up), and a new thing made with Aperol and shouju and ginger beer and lemon peel (light & juicy & delicately sweet, one of my new favorites). [Oh, and I think I spied the AJC's John Kessler while I was there -- I managed to not descend upon him in a cloud of fangirl, and am hoping he'll have nice things to say about the place.]

I developed a sudden love for shouju (an airy and slightly sweet rice liquor that goes really well with citrus) at Yakitori Totto in New York City circa New Year's Eve last year. I'd never seen it on a menu before, but it sounded good and came with a variety of fruit juices. Or, more specifically as I discovered, a variety of fruit for the customer to juice. The bemused/amused waiter (who had about as much English as I have Japanese, meaning that we both did a lot of gesturing and apologizing in poor accents) looked at me looking at the fruit, and graciously whisked it away to make something drinkable out of it. (Hurrah for mutual cultural embarrassment.) If you find yourself in NYC, you should go there and order one of everything (or two of everything, as you may find yourself not wanting to share). At the very least, if they happen to have it as a special again around this time of year, try their elegant shiro-kuro goma (white & black sesame) noodle soup.

I thought I had a pretty good handle on shopping about a month ago, 'cause I had about half of it done. And so I stopped for three weeks. Oops. I'm gonna try to write up long enthusiastic things about some of my favorite online merchants later on, but for now I'll just recommend that anyone with some holiday shopping left to do hie to Sock Dreams, Think Geek, New Egg, or Jeni's Ice Cream. All have lovely products and customer service, and get things out quickly. Bless them.

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