7 Delicious Holiday Season Treats from Around the World
OFF MENU IS SPONSORED BY BENDER’S BECAUSE THEY ARE BADASS. DROP BY AND MAKE SOME BAD DECISIONS WITH SOME GOOD PEOPLE!
Wintertime holiday season is arguably the best holiday season (excluding Halloween and with a nod to how awful your family can be).
But perhaps what makes it so magical is all the intense deliciousness served up to keep you warm and jolly, otherwise known as complacently stuffed.
Here’s a list of the best of the best, and where you can find them.
Disclaimer: I have never been invited to Eid at the end of Ramadan so I can’t speak to the many delicious things eaten at this holiday. I have also never been to a Kwanzaa meal or Tet meal or any number of cultural holiday celebrations other than white people Christmas, Chinese Christmas/New Years and Hanukkahs. I want to though, so please invite me next time.
Look, you can’t just boil red wine with a stick of cinnamon and call it mulled wine. There are any number of recipes out there but the key ingredients are citrus peel, cinnamon, another variant of “winter spice” like cloves or allspice, a decently drinkable dark red wine, and copious amounts of either sugar or apple cider. A heavy swig of bourbon or sherry or some shit doesn’t hurt either. If you want to go pro-level, take your mulled wine in a thermos to go wassailing, which is just caroling but with alcoholism added.
Where to get it: any number of places will serve you mulled wine, including your friends’ homes, but I like to get mine at Blush!, a wine bar in the Castro.
A stollen (pronounced sh-tOhlen) is a German fruit cake. Yes, I know fruit cake is disgusting. That’s why the Germans made stollen, which is more like a panettone, an Italian fruit bread. Haven’t had either? You are not living. The key aspect of a stollen is that it’s usually covered in sugar, buttery soft and usually comes with a distinct flavor of rum.
Where to get it: basically any fancy foods store or specialty bakery, like Fillmore Bakeshop in Pac Heights.
I dare you to explain why latkes are not good. They are pan-fried potato cakes. There are toppings involved and delicious variants involving other root vegetables and squashes. Even vegans can enjoy them and we all know vegans don’t really enjoy anything in life. Plus, with each bite, you can really taste the suffering of the Jews in ancient Egypt. So, no, you don’t exactly have to wait for Hanukkah to eat latkes but if you had any decency, you would.
Where to get it: Go to Wise Sons on 24th St if you want that classic flavor and style.
Do you like sticky rice balls in sweet soup? You will now. If you are up on this boba/bubble tea trend, it’s time to take it to the next level. Like all Eastern Asian desserts, this comes in a variety of styles and levels of sweetness: your rice balls can be filled with black sesame paste, red bean paste, custard, peanut sauce or nothing at all. Your soup could literally just be sugar water just shy of being called simple syrup, coconut milk, red bean soup or a delightful melange of other ingredients like lotus seeds, tapioca pearls, and the menacing sounding but tutu-like white tree fungus. Whatever, just eat it.
Where to get it: Your best bet are the HK or Taiwanese dessert cafes that populate the Inner Richmond like Kowloon Tong on 7th Ave.
Bûche de Noël
Honestly, it’s just a cake. But look at it! OMG! It’s so cute! There’s like…chocolate frosting and little meringue mushrooms and other French ridiculousness that makes you almost not want to eat it. Except you totally want to eat it. Because it’s a chocolate cake covered in chocolate icing. Don’t be absurd.
Where to get it: most bakeries will carry this around Christmas, including Whole Foods. If you want to be really real though, go to B. Patisserie on California.
While I’m not sure if this is solely reserved for the holiday season, what you’re looking at is pasta baked in breadcrumbs and served like a cake. If I weren’t sure this is a Sicilian thing, I’d be convinced this is some Pizza Hut promotion like the pasta in a bread bowl nonsense. What else is there to say? It’s a pasta cake.
Where to get it: Supposedly Credo on Pine serves some form of timpano but it might be easier to become friends with someone’s Italian grandmother or just make it yourself.
Your Loved Ones’ Disappointment
Oh, was Thanksgiving hard? Was that one day of trying desperately not to fight while everyone is distracted with trying to overeat a difficult feat? Gird thy fucking loins then because Christmas is upon us. It is in your best interest to start savoring the piquant flavor of your grandmother’s disappointment at your lack of offspring, your father’s disappointment at your permissive political stance, your mother’s disappointment at your failed relationships, your cousin’s disappointment in your lack of cool, the list goes on and on. Gorge yourself on their emotional vitriol until you can get desperately drunk and kiss a stranger on New Year’s Eve.
Where to get it: Sometime in between the second conversation about Trump and the fourth helping of truly disgusting eggnog.