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Munich: The Best of Times, The Wurst of Times

24 Jul

If this isn’t already starting to sound familiar, I am sitting on a leather couch in my hostel, thinking about the past week.  On the bright side, all these hostels have leather couches.  On the down side, I might be getting set in my ways.  I’ve spent the last week in Munich, once again getting to know a small city slightly too well.  Most people come here for a couple days only, but I’ll leave Friday and arrived last Friday.  It’s been fun.  Overall, I’ve experienced more food and beer in quantity, and the social scene has been a little more happening.  Also, the German culture is pretty different from the culture I experienced in Brussels.  Since I’ve enjoyed Munich so much, I will begin this post writing about the bad and the goofy of Munich and then proceed to reveal what I liked most about the place.  It’s only right, right?  You’ll see.

Some of the main awkward and bad things about Munich are very strange:

  • I’ve noticed an oddly high number of single-leg amputees around here, including a dog.
  • I’ve also noticed quite a few people rocking gout ankles.  They may make up the pre-amputee crowd, but I don’t know.  Just a guess.
  • Germans are allowed to walk around with open containers and serve alcohol to 13 year olds, but no one will cross the street until the little man on the traffic light turns green.  Even if a car hasn’t passed in two whole minutes.
  • Germans will run you over with their bikes, no matter how obvious it is that you don’t know they’re coming.  (I have not been run over yet, but I’m guessing there’s some kind of 9-lives style expiration on my luck, since I’ve almost been hit about six times.)

Therefore, anyone who doesn’t want a high likelihood of having a leg amputation or getting run over by a bike…or having to wait to cross the street…should not stay in Munich for a very long time.

On the other hand, there’s something about Munich that has kept me in the city for the past five days; I could have done some day trips, but I seem to have a hard time leaving.  Now, that may be because the German language makes so little sense to me that I can’t fathom looking at a map for fear of getting a headache, but I’m not sure.  Most street names appear to sound something like Flabbergabberbundergartenstrasse.  That is slightly paralyzing.  I might have stayed here, though, because it’s kind of awesome.

Overall, Munich is a busy city with a very relaxed vibe.  I made friends with an Aussie dude from my hostel, and when we went to Munich’s English Gardens to grab a beer and stick our feet in the river, we noticed there was an alarmingly large German population lounging around like they were on vacation.  Did they have jobs?  Was it a national holiday?  We weren’t sure and never figured it out.  But if they were all employed, wouldn’t we all like to move to Munich and spend most of our time in the sun with a beer in hand?

 

People straight chilling in the English Gardens.  Don't forget a bottle opener!

People straight chilling in the English Gardens. Don’t forget a bottle opener!

We weren’t sure about Munich’s workforce in general.  When we went to Hofbrauhaus one afternoon—one of the most famous biergartens in Germany—we got beers in somewhat of a timely manner, but when we decided to get food, it took about twenty-five minutes to track down a waiter.  Most of them averted their eyes and ignored us or promised they’d be right with us before heading for the hills.  One dude seemed to only be in charge of emptying ash trays but then took another table’s order right away.  Was it because those dudes were wearing lederhosen?  I bet it was.  But we couldn’t afford those sexy pants-and-suspenders-in-one.  It wasn’t our fault.

sneak shot of a dude in lederhosen with a sick feathered hat who got served before us

sneak shot of a dude in lederhosen with a sick feathered hat who got served before us

 

Conclusion?  Move to Munich and get a job as an ash tray-emptier for four hours a day and spend the rest of your time at the English Garden drinking Helles lager and floating downstream with the current.  Over time, get very out of shape and start wearing less and less clothing to the park until one day you are old and jaded and don’t care that you’re naked and drunk all the time.  That might be the Munich way, or else I have it all wrong.

I’m not kidding about the lederhosen though.  People wear those bad boys around here like it’s totally fine.  And I would love to bring that don’t-give-a-shit-ery to the US, but I don’t know if paying two hundred dollars for embroidered suede Bermuda shorts with straps is a good idea.  Instead, I got a really long feather to put in one of my fedoras.  It’s not the same, but beggars can only choose so much.

Regarding the food of Germany: it is good.  I have eaten more here than in England and Belgium combined, possibly.  Day one, I got very drunk on a beer tour with my hostel and ate a slice of pizza that easily equaled two actual slices in real life.  Day two, I drank a lot of wheat beer and survived mainly on a big hostel breakfast.  Side note: for some reason, the Germans missed the memo about not having to dye all the hard-boiled eggs.  They are all so bright.  Why.

Day three, I ate a pretzel and the sketchiest curry wurst in Munich in addition to a plate of cured meats and cheese at Hofbrauhaus.  Day four, I kind of just drank beers and ate some dry-cured sausages from a local charcuterie store.  And then had this really dank braised pork platter at the Schneider Weisse beer hall.  Yesterday, day five, I recovered from the worst hangover of my life eating kinder eggs and pizza from across the street.  And today, I tried another version of curry wurst to try to give curry wurst one more chance.

 

bad curry wurst.  did i happen to get served someone's half-finished plate?  I couldn't row a boat across that much ketchup.

bad curry wurst. did i happen to get served someone’s half-finished plate? I couldn’t row a boat across that much ketchup.

Pizza: get in my hungover belly right meowww.

Pizza: get in my hungover belly right meowww.

The highlights of this week of feasting include dry cured sausages, the braised pork dish from Schneider Weisse, and the pizza.  Why have I eaten pizza three times in Munich, like a crazy, American heathen, you ask?  Because this pizza joint up the street may serve the best goddamn pizza I’ve ever tasted.  So much so that I went back twice in one day.  The poor dude working there told me when he got out of work, not realizing I was just back for some more of that crispy, chewy crust they had going on there.  First, I had one slice covered in vegetables.  I don’t even think it had cheese on it, and I gobbled it up like a wild animal in about two seconds flat.  Second, I got this ham and mushroom calzone and ate the whole thing.  Really, I still have a ball of pizza in my stomach, and it’s been about eighteen hours since I’ve used.  I don’t know why this place isn’t on our hostel map.  Maybe because it’s two feet away.

 

The Peasant Plate: braised pork, pork sausage, bread dumpling, roasted pork.  AKA the Jewish special.

The Peasant Plate: braised pork, pork sausage, bread dumpling, roasted pork. AKA the Jewish special.

About the curry wurst situation:  it’s not what it should be.  Curry wurst could probably be a lot more than a hot dog with too much ketchup and curry powder on it.  But it’s not.  And it’s served with this ubiquitous fucking stale role.  Why!  I so wanted it to be good, but it’s overly sweet and kind of doesn’t go as well with a pint of Helles as could a sausage with mustard or a pretzel.  It almost has a gingerbread flavor altogether, and that’s slightly awkward.

 

Stupid stale-ass role.  Stupid everything with the highest glycemix index out there.  Still beats the first curry wurst.

Stupid stale-ass role. Stupid everything with the highest glycemix index out there. Still beats the first curry wurst.

When I was eating my curry wurst today, I thought, I wish I got weisswurst instead. And then some people came and sat at my table with weisswurst.  And I was like, staring at these awkwardly pale links, wondering if it’s possible for German men to eat weisswurst without getting chills.  And then I saw a dude casually knifing the shit out of a weisswurst link, and there’s our answer.  They’re too busy thanking God it’s not curry wurst to have their mind in the gutter at all.  Pardon my unabashed review of the German sausage situation.  I appreciate their encased, emulsified meats as the art they are, in all seriousness.

As for the beer situation: I have not found the majority of the beers available here mind-boggling.  But in the way that English cask ale was tame and quaffable, so is the German lager.  Even if some of it might be more mass-produced.  The major difference is no one thinks anything of grabbing a mass (a liter glass) of Helles lager to start the night.  That is like two pints of a regular strength beer.  And although my one-mass test proved that a petite woman (albeit with a high tolerance) will be fine after a mass, it also showed strong evidence that the one mass will encourage the purchase of a second beer and then possibly two rounds of cocktails.  And then drunk pizza.  So although a mass won’t kill, it really begins the slippery slope to poor health, gout, and, ultimately, becoming a single- or double-amputee in Munich.  Just saying.

 

But you can always count on Schneider Weisse Hopfen Weisse beer for a good time :)

But you can always count on Schneider Weisse Hopfen Weisse beer for a good time 🙂

I do have one more day here, and my only real goal is to load up on kinder eggs before I leave.  Today, I walked all around and ended up sitting in a church for a good hour.  I don’t know why.  It almost got depressing, thinking that people construct such crazy, huge, ornate buildings for a cause that isn’t proven.  But it was a peaceful place and very impressive nonetheless.  When you travel alone, you get to thinking too much.

 

Very impressive building.  Good place for conjuring up dark philosophical crises.

Very impressive building. Good place for conjuring up dark philosophical crises.

The moral of this story is: if you live in Munich, you should hit up the fruit stands along the main drag to attempt improved health and avoid da betes and gout.  Also, wearing lederhosen is a lifestyle.  And even though German lagers tend to be lighter than Belgian beers, you will spend more time hungover in Germany.  It’s just how it is.  Deal with it.

 

When you say 'prost,' you better look those damn people in the eye...Otherwise you're a suspicious drinking buddy.

When you say ‘prost,’ you better look those damn people in the eye…Otherwise you’re a suspicious drinking buddy.

Prost!

Blue Hill, Big Thrill.

17 Aug

For the past three years of my life, I’ve been waiting to eat at Blue Hill at Stone Barns.  Every year had its own excuse for why I couldn’t get there: once we had to cancel a reservation because my family wanted to watch the Superbowl (come on!); the next year it was not a priority in the family budget, and I didn’t have a driver’s license yet; and the next year…it just didn’t happen.  So when my mom and I visited the Stone Barns Center farmer’s market, we made a pact to go this summer.

Time went by, and I could not get my parents to settle on a date for our dinner at Blue Hill.  I kept checking Open Table and nagging them about waiting too long–up until only sketchy timings remained available.  I remember making a long distance phone call from Spain a month ago just to say “LISTEN MOM AND DAD!  WE ARE GOING TO BLUE HILL BEFORE I LEAVE FOR SCHOOL…YES WE HAVE TO MAKE A 9 PM RESERVATION!…IF WE HAD BOOKED EARLIER…”  Ultimately, citing the pact my mom and I made, I overcame the inertia that had impeded my parents’ ability to make a reservation for the past three years.  They agreed that at 9:00 on August 15th we would go to Blue Hill at Stone Barns for dinner.  Finally.

So, last Sunday, we got in the car and drove up to Pocantico Hills.  Although traffic, rain, and the Tappan Zee Bridge stood between us and our meal, we forged onward.  Although said perilous obstacles delayed us a few minutes, the Blue Hill staff received us warmly when we arrived.

Our table was not yet ready (sigh), but we sat at the bar and enjoyed a few drinks before the host brought us into the main dining room.  The bar area was beautifully decorated like the rest of the restaurant, and I enjoyed listening as the bartender poured out his “mixknowledgy,” beet infused vodka, and craft beers.  After about a half hour at the bar (a bit long if you ask me, to wait for such a late seating), the host brought us to our table and apologized for the wait, assuring us that our drinks were on the house.  While the wait was lengthy, the staff did their best to make up for it.

We started with Blue Hill’s deluge of amuse bouches, enjoying tastes of tomato water gazpacho and fried squash with sesame and pancetta; “corn dogs” (battered and fried baby corn); an array of small vegetables that tasted lightly brined; and tiny, perfect tomato burgers–small toasted buns sandwiching a sort of tomato tapenade.  All of these bursts of flavor were delicious and satisfying.  Seemingly, Blue Hill is the most generous restaurant with regards to amuse I’ve ever been to.

tomato burgers

Our first course, a gazpacho with fig leaf sorbet, was fabulous.  The velvety soup, accented with small diced vegetables, was the perfect balance between sweet, spicy, cool, and luscious.  A perfect addition, the floral, fruity fig leaf sorbet added depth as well as another dimension of temperature to the dish.  Having that gazpacho first was like seeing an amazing band open for someone I’ve never seen live: I was so impressed, yet I wondered how anything could surpass the gazpacho’s greatness.

gazpacho

And yet, at this concert of sorts, the following bands–I mean courses–rocked just as hard.  After the gazpacho, we ate amazing veal bone marrow topped with creamy, briny caviar.

veal bone marrow

Note the presentation: each bone arrived on a wooden board, secured with bolts.  I seriously doubted the plate was merely decorative–if I could ask Dan Barber one question, I would ask, “Is the bone marrow bolted to the platter because you don’t want diners to pick up that delicious bone and just suck out as much remaining marrow as possible?”  My theory makes sense, but if you doubt me, just go to the restaurant and try the bone marrow.  You’ll want to sneak the bone home in your purse just so you can try to extract every last morsel from it in a private setting.  That, I believe, is why the bone is bolted to its plate.

Next, our waitress talked to us about Blue Hill’s sustainable charcoal-making initiative, presenting to us some homemade charcoal produced with natural matter from the farm.  This lesson preceded our onion cooked in charcoal overnight.  The waitstaff brought each of us a piece of onion left to cook down in smoldering charcoal overnight.  Unseasoned and unmodified, the onion was sweet and complex.  With the four condiments–olive tapenade, beet spread, vegetable puree, and blueberries, the onion was beautiful.  Although the blueberries fell a little flat (they were subtly sweet but not juicy or tart enough), the rest of the condiments were fantastic.

onion!

After the onion, our waitress brought us an assortment of fresh nightshade plants to illustrate her educational prelude to our next course.  Explaining that eggplants, tomatoes, and potatoes are all related, she assured us our next course would put this vegetable family in the limelight.

We received mullet over a ragout of the aforementioned vegetables.  The fish was perfectly cooked and had an assertive, delicious flavor.  Over the bright tasting ragout, which was amplified with fresh herbs, the mullet was perfect.  So many times, great restaurants tend toward serving mild white fish and using it as a textural canvas for other flavors.  However, here, I was pleased to taste a fish that is proud to taste fishy (while fresh) paired with gorgeous vegetables.

mullet

Following the fish, we had the most beautiful egg ever.  Snuggling with an assortment of beans in a tangy curry sauce, the egg lay under a topping of breadcrumbs.  The yolk was cooked until just so–it was custardy enough not to melt into the sauce, but it was far from solid.  The beans were creamy and delicious, cooked to perfection.  Any chicken on the farm would be proud to say they had laid that egg.

delicious egg

And now, our last savory course.  I was very glad when I saw a plate celebrating the pig.  A few slices of pink loin and a few pieces of belly were in good company: accompanied by radicchio and sauced with pickled plum puree and mustard, they screamed “eat me!”  The loin, unlike sad, pale loin we get from enemies Hormel and others, had a nice rim of fat along one side.  The belly, a fatty delight, was a thing of beauty.  I am a fat enthusiast, so I enjoyed eating the loin in whole, scoffing at the idea that many cut off its precious fat.  Altogether, the dish was great, and tasting such great pork brightened my view of where our protein world is headed.  With restaurants and farms pushing the real stuff as Blue Hill does, there is hope.

pork

Dessert time!  We probably could have rolled away from the table satisfied at this point, but the desserts were very good.  A modern approach to the sacher torte, with a glazed apricot and blueberry sorbet, was very delicious.  Also, the corn cake with raspberry sorbet and corn ice cream was exciting and tasty.

sacher torte

corn cake and raspberry

Blue Hill’s mignardise was fresh apricots and sugared currants, a welcome step away from the mignardise norm.  While the currants were delicious, I have to admit that the apricots were a bit mealy and dry.  Oh well–normally, ending on a lower note is not so great; however, after eating such a great meal, I was not disheartened.

apricots and currants

I can’t wait to go back to Blue Hill at Stone Barns for (hopefully an earlier) dinner.  Dan Barber and his team do a wonderful job of educating their customers about the farm, its produce, and sustainability.  Furthermore, the fresh ingredients and high level of skill in the kitchen make for a knockout meal.  And in such a beautiful setting, what more could anyone ask for?

San Sebastian so Far…

16 Jun

When I arrived in San Sebastian and looked around in the Parte Viejo, I saw tons of pintxos bars with signs that said, “recommended by the Michelin guide.”  I knew San Sebastian had the highest density of Michelin stars in the world, but I guess seeing them all close together drove that concept home for me.  I was so excited to do a pintxos crawl at night!

When I went back to my hostel, I met my hostel-mates and decided to go out with them to watch the World Cup in a bar.  Luckily, after the game, one of the girls in my group was a little hungry too, so we went to A Fuego Negro, an avant-garde pintxos place around the corner.  We enjoyed three interesting pintxos:

  1. “Ros Bif”–a small, sweet cracker with beef tartare on top and some stone-ground mustard.
  2. Brandade foam with pesto and sun-dried tomato
  3. “Cafe de jamón,” a small cappucino of ham soup with deep fried sweetbreads on the side.  A fun take on capuccino with cookies.

café de jamón with sweetbreads

Afterwards, I tried a bacalao montadito at a small bar.  It was delicious; the fish was meaty and subtle, and the peppers on top were soft and delicious.

bacalao with pimientos y pan

Today, I was supposed to eat at Etxebarri in the basque country, but there was no direct way to get there besides taking a 93 euro cab.  Nope.  Instead, I did what the locals do: head for higher ground (a bar) and drink/eat.  I ordered my favorite, café con brandy to start.  It was everything I had hoped for.  Although a sign said that the bar served a taco de foie, the woman at the bar told me otherwise.  She recommended a pintxo de solomillo, and I ordered one.  I actually wasn’t sure what solomillo was, because I thought it was cured pork, but I couldn’t remember.  It turns out that solomillo is a small filet of beef.  Excellent.  At the bar, they simply seared it and sprinkled it with flaky sea salt, and it came with a roasted red pepper.

solomillo con pimiento

This is some bare bones food.  But, it’s all amazing.  It’s like you can hardly get something bad around here.  The solomillo was perfectly done, it was juicy, and it was extremely flavorful.  I thought I was full, but when I left, I bought a small, crusty baguette at a bakery and voraciously tore it apart, consuming the better part of it’s crispy exterior.

And Now–The Holiday Countdown: Reasons I am Currently Fat

27 Dec

When I said I was ready for the holidays, I must have seriously been ready. For the past week, I’ve been cooking my ass off and turning out as much food as elves turn out toys around this time of year. Not only was I busy with my own holiday “tomfoodery” as I like to call it, but I was also caught up in a storm of orders from friends for holiday baked goods. You see, I felt that sending out an e-mail to all my mom’s friends to notify them that I was coming home and was available to bake holiday treats would be a fruitless effort, but it actually warranted significant response! So, through making food for my family and food for others, I made more holiday food this year than any other and probably gained more weight. Here we go:

1. Chanukah Dinner.
The first day I was home from school, I was back in my lovely kitchen, cooking for Chanukah dinner. Since it was a last minute affair, my mom and I decided to make chicken marsala (random); latkes (traditional); green beans with almonds; and a salad of grilled zucchini, chickpeas, goat milk feta, and olives. It was all delicious, and even though I didn’t make dessert, we really didn’t need it.

2. Momofuku Bo Ssam.
One of the first nights I was home from school, I decided to make the Bo Ssam from the new Momofuku cookbook that my mom got me for Christmas (it’s a long story, but I got the book early…) I made the shoulder, roasted with salt and sugar, and then made all the sauces (although I had to use onions instead of scallions because I am an idiot and didn’t buy scallions.) Everything was great!! We are still eating that pork, though; it was a lot for our family of six, even. The pork makes a great quesadilla!

3. Gemelli pasta with a basque style cream sauce.
This dinner was actually just a last-minute thing I made for my dad and my siblings. I was too tired to make sides, but I flavored a basic béchamel sauce with a stick of cinnamon and smoked paprika, and then I woke it up with some sherry vinegar. I tossed the pasta with some roasted cauliflower and green pepper and topped it with some julienne orange pepper.

4. Christmas cookies.
What are the holidays without some fuckin cookies? My cookie monster ginerbread man says, “Nothing!”

I made vanilla kipfly cookies, chocolate-toffee bark, s’mores bars (a new invention I made by making a graham cracker crust filled with fudgy brownie, and then topping it  with meringue), lemon sandwich cookies, and date-nut bars, and my mom made french macaroons, peanut blossoms, and pecan tassies.  A pretty good spread if I do say so myself.

s'mores bar!

5.  Stollen.

One of our favorite Christmas traditions is making a holiday stolen.  I always make it earlier in the week so we can cut pieces of it at our leisure for days.  I really despise store-bought candied peel, so I make my own candied kumquats every year.  The fruit I use depends on what I have at the time I make the stollen, but this year I soaked my kumquats, raisins, and chopped dried apricots in rum before adding them to the dough.  I always use the Joy of Cooking stollen recipe, and I am always pleased with the delicious, yeasty dough, which I think is greatly improved by the addition of a few teaspoons of vanilla.  Of course, the best part of the stollen is the almond paste or marzipan center.  To make my stollen festive, I usually decorate it with a Christmas tree pattern using almonds, cherries, and candied fruit, but this year I made a stocking with dried cranberries, almonds, and toasted coconut.

this year's stollen

6.  My baking business.

Before I get into what else I made for greedy little me, why don’t I tell you about all the delightful goodies my neighbors and friends bought from me for their holidays?  My favorite holiday treat, a crazy item I created last year, is a mincemeat sticky bun with hard sauce.  Nothing can really beat this, nor should anything try to beat this.  It’s just ridiculously beautiful and glorious.  The hard sauce oozes awesomely over the puffy, rich dough–a dough that tries to delay the deluge of mincemeat filling from spilling out everywhere–and barely succeeds.  The cloak of heart-warming hard sauce is the perfect answer to icing on a regular cinnamon bun, and it’s almost unfair how sadly the latter compares.

I also made over a hundred gingerbread men, chocolate-dipped orange-cardamom biscotti, two chocolate yule logs, and pecan sticky buns.  Everything was phenomenal, and I hope my customers thoroughly enjoyed the baked goods.

rolling out sticky bun dough

7.  Christmas eve dinner.

My mom likes the idea of having a spread of hors d’oeuvres on Christmas eve, and since so much fish is available around the holidays, we went a more aquatic route.  I made braised artichokes with maple, bacon, parsely, lemon, and shrimp (really amazing) and put them on top bread pudding that I infused with a shrimp demi.  Even if the dish seems far out, it was worth trying something new.  I also made crostini with shaved bottarga, olive oil, and lemon; my mom made oysters rockefeller; and we put out some cheese, gravlax, and matjes herring.

shrimp and braised artichokes on shrimp bread puddings

8.  Meanwhile: Cassoulet.

I’ve always wanted to try my hand at cassoulet, and finally I got all the ingredients to make it.  Unfortunately, I didn’t know when I’d have the time to finish it, so we would have to be ready for it when it was ready for us.  I made the duck confit myself, and it came out great.  I used navy and cannelini beans, one and a half heads of garlic, wild boar and venison-pork sausages, pork shoulder, and fresh ham.  Ultimately, I brought it to my aunt and uncle’s abode for a Boxing Day party, and it was great.  The duck skin and pork skin I lined the casserole with were amazing, the flavor was delicious, and the meats were extremely tender.  Even the ham!  I had little faith that such a lean cut would braise well, but it did.  MMMMM.

cassoulet: browning the meat

cassoulet: simmerrr

cassoulet: simmerrr

9.  Christmas dinner.

On Christmas dinner, we kind of winged it.  The only thing I had prepared was a lobster dish from Eric Ripert’s book, On the Line. It was a lobster timbale with blached vegetables and a champagne sauce.  It was great, and my mom made a nice salad with radicchio, orange, olive, and herbs and some creamed spinach.  Sound like a mish mosh?  It was.  But it was a delicious mish-mosh.  My brother and sister asked about dessert, and since I had none and lied that I did, the best thing to whip up in a pinch was pudding-thick peppermint hot chocolate with barely-whipped cream spooned generously on top.  YEAH!  Even though I was exhausted, that Christmas was a great one, and the food was very nice.  We enjoyed a bottle of rose cava from my dad’s friend.

10.  A new cocktail.

For my mom’s Christmas gift, I decided to try infusing some vodka and making her homemade grenadine syrup from fresh pomegranates.  I ended up making her toasted cardamom and vanilla infused vodka and saffron infused grenadine.  She shook them together over ice, and the drink was very delicious.  Instead of being a light, glassy color, the reduced pomegranate, enhanced by the bright saffron, turned it a deep red, and the flavor was spicy and had the punchy strength of a good manhattan.

11.  Boxing Day

Because my aunt works in a hospital on Christmas, she and my uncle have been inviting our family over for Boxing Day on the 26th for a few years.  This year, my uncle invited me to bring some things and to come help him prepare the meal.  I brought the cassoulet, which was finally ready; a country pate with chicken livers in the middle; chopped chicken liver that I made with reduced balsamic and shallots; homemade grainy oatmeal-stout mustard, and a two-year old fruitcake I made and have brushed with liquor to improve over time.  When I got there, I helped make a salt-cod gratin in puff pastry cups, mashed rutabagas, and a kale salad, and my uncle made a mac and cheese with kale, a 20 pound ham, a lamb and lentil soup, and a cranberry trifle.  What a delicious feast!!  Perhaps the best part was when my aunt and uncle’s friend–an Englishman–complimented my fruitcake.  Only the English appreciate good fruitcake.

Now I am very fat; I never really said no to anything this holiday season, and all I can do is say, “at least I enjoyed it.”  It’s not as though I can cook with such vigor at school.