Wednesday, December 20, 2006

merry Christmas exiles

Me with Christmas crazy-eyes, 1976.

There hasn't been any mention of Christmas menu-planning here at Tiny Banquet because this year's festivities will be exceptionally low-key; we're renting a cabin in upstate New York and don't have ambitions beyond getting crunk by the fireplace and maybe doing a bit of cross-country skiing.

We'll be just two people and a little dog so our Christmas Eve roast beast and Who-pudding will have to be on the small side. I'm thinking I'll make a roast chicken with slices of black truffle under the skin. I hate that truffles are a cliché of good eating, but they are in season, and I once had chicken prepared this way and it was ridiculously good. It was years ago at Restaurant Hélène Darroze and I wish I could say more about it, but apparently I also had plenty of wine with it and my memories are hazy. Anyhow, there will be hopefully be some potatoes roasted in goose fat on the side, from this recipe or this one, and maybe some braised endive, or something else green and not-crisp. For dessert there will be something soft and light that doesn't require last-minute attention, possibly poached pears or some sort of custard. Leave recommendations in the comments if you have any; I probably won't be doing my ingredient-shopping and final-decision-making until Saturday morning.

In the meantime, I'll be doing a bit of research on how to tell whether the aforementioned thrillingly-expensive fungi is fresh. Any recommendations on truffle-buying are also welcome! Just keep in mind that my firm is being very coy about bonuses — entirely typical of a place where announcements of secretarial department mutiny go out at 5 pm the night before — so I might end up subsituting chips of cardboard or something.


  1. I walked by SOS Chefs on my way into work today and they had a HUGE sign in the window that exclaimed "WE HAVE WHITE TRUFFLES!"
    I think that means they have some truffles in stock ;-)
    I don't 100% trust them (long story) but it's in your (our) 'hood, and as long as they don't try to sell you gyromitra mushrooms, you should be okay!
    Merry Christmas and a healthy, happy New Year to you and yours!

  2. I am slightly embarassed to say that I've never been into that store despite the fact that I live about two blocks away from it. "Slightly" because (a) there is something about it that doesn't seem quite welcoming to me and (b) I came across that mushroom story, Ann, while browsing your archives and it's a-w-f-u-l! Ugh, mortality should not be a dinner-time issue! Surely their truffles aren't poisonous but eek, I don't think I want to go in there.
    I also think I'm definitely too poor for white truffles - I just looked at the Dean & Deluca website and the black ones are $155/oz. and the white ones are $340/oz. — eek again!