Food (Section) Fight! is my weekly look at The Washington Post's Food section and The New York Times' Dining section with my verdict on which section had the better content for the week.
New York Times
1) “A Regional Oddball, Resurrected for Chilliest of Days,” by Robert Simonson. It may not be official, but judging from the front cover, it’s booze week for the Dining section. This isn’t a cover story, but it was my favorite thing, since it resurrected memories of my childhood Christmases. The Tom and Jerry was always served by my father’s family at Christmas. A thick eggnog-like drink made with a spiced batter, brandy and rum, it’s not something I ever partake. I tried it once, and was pretty repulsed actually, but maybe I’d like it better as an adult. Despite that, I enjoyed this trip down memory lane, as I haven’t thought about this drink in over a decade. Interesting that Simonson says that drink has fallen out of fashion everywhere but in Wisconsin, since my Oregon-based family was pretty taken with it.
2) “Holiday Nostalgia, Served Warm,” by Rosie Schaap. Sing with me: “Here we come a wassailing among the leaves of green..” Everyone knows at least that refrain of the most popular Christmas drinking carol. She looks at the English drink’s historical heritage, lists some New York spots for sampling various versions and offers a recipe.
3) “Bubbles That Speak English,” Wines of the Times by Eric Asimov. True Champagne is expensive, at least $35 for a decent bottle, according to Asimov. So here, he samples other less expensive sparkling wines from California and New York still suitable for a holiday toast.
4) “Sweet or Savory, a Bit at a Time,” City Kitchen by David Tanis. Tanis shares how he learned to make pate à choux during his first stint as restaurant cook. It’s the basis for cream puffs and éclairs and, by following his recipe, it doesn’t sound all that complicated.
5) “Harvesting A Wintry Conucopia in Wales,” How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. Bittman shares how he tackled cooking a bag of mixed greenhouse produce from friends-of-a-friend’s farm in Wales. The Leek and Tomato Gratin sounds wholesome, healthy and delicious.
1) “Cookies,” by Food section staff. Just in time for my Cookie Week, the Food section has theirs too! And this year, they really outdid themselves, designing their 26 recipes around an international theme, including Fiola Chef Fabio Trabocchi’s Almond Cookies, Peanut Butter Chocolate Whirligigs and Nanaimo Truffle Bars (named after a little town on Vancouver Island my family has passed through a few times while on vacation). But the one I really want to make is the Oaxacan Chocolate Cookies made with Mexican cinnamon, Mexican dark chocolate and smoky mezcal.
2) “Step 1 in fixing the family gingerbread recipe: Include ginger,” by Tim Carman. This story is really quite a bit of fun. Carman writes about his family’s gingerbread cookie recipe, which has been passed down through the generations. However, apparently those doing the “passing” took some liberties that, over time, adulterated the recipe to include too much flour and, gasp, no ginger. Carman set out to get the recipe back to its original delicious roots, offering up some dish on his big sis along the way: as custodian of the family recipe, he describes as “in this regard, and in this regard only, she is more Betty Draper than Betty Crocker.” Zing!
3) “Buffalo Wing Burgers,” Dinner in Minutes by Bonnie S. Benwick. These burgers, inspired by Buffalo wings, sound really delicious. They come with hot-sauce-enlivened mayo, although I’m surprised they contain no blue cheese.
4) “Cant find a gift for a wine lover? Join the club.” Wine by Dave McIntyre. This week’s win column offers ideas for what to give the wine lover in your life. McIntyre advises against wine gadgets in favor of wine (of course) and stemware.
The Washington Post. Although I enjoyed the Times' Tom-and-Jerry trip down Christmas memory lane, the Post’s cookie coverage was, as usual, as sweet as they come.
The Washington Post: 26
The New York Times: 22