Christmas Comes But Once A Year: 7 days and counting…

It  is the week before Christmas and I am sure that I speak for everyone when I note that we will all be a little happier to be able to say, “It is the week after Christmas.”  Hope & anticipation vie with dread in occupying our time now.  Is anyone sleeping well?  Am I the only one up at 3 A.M. wondering why I’m not a better child?  A better parent?  A better person?

It’s not the gifts still to buy or the food yet uncooked, but the hodgepodge of memories, guilt, sadness, and sheer terror that accompany time to be spent with loved ones.

Thank goodness for the Internet for shopping. Gets your mind off what cannot be undone.

My favorite gifts to give are primarily food:

1.  http://www.martinspretzels.com.  Best dry pretzels on earth.  Fine, there’s salt, there’s hypertension.  Look, it’s Christmas, get a grip.  Don’t be a control freak.  That also contributes to elevated blood pressure.

2.  http://www.oregonmushrooms.com.  These guys ship spectacular, seasonal mushrooms.  Their blond morels are the best I’ve ever had.

3.  http://www.bellaviva.com.  I first discovered their products @ the Embacadero in San Francisco.  The dried pluots, apricots, and nectarines are intense and delicious.  The walnuts ought to compensate somewhat for the salt (noted above).

4.  http://www.brownetrading.com.  If you want to have the same fish and shellfish used at a few of the country’s best restaurants–Esca, Le Bernadin–give these guys a call.  Thick filets, perfect ingredients, fresh, and flavorful.  Now all you need to do is learn to cook fish.

5.  http://www.dartagnan.com.  Best poultry in the country.

6.  http://www.snakeriverfarms.com.  I first had their Kobe-style beef years ago during a lunch at The French Laundry.  Nothing is more marbled outside of Japan.  The burgers are a bargain.  The beef is so satisfying, one winds up eating less of it and feeling mildly euphoric and somewhat confused.

7. http://www.manicaretti.com.  You can find this pasta in stores.  I was introduced to it by Andrew Carmellini who is the chef at Locanda Verde.  It’s one difference between a good Italian restaurant and a great one.  Remember: cook the pasta in the sauce and place it in the bowls while still very al dente.

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