Every morning growing up, I’d listen to various Boston radio stations and a.m. talkshows. And I distinctly remember hearing the restaurant Clio name-dropped on more than several occasions. Mostly by foodie co-hosts who thought they were cooler than they are. Whether I was aware of it or not, Clio really was my first impression of Boston’s high-caliber dining scene, even though at the time Fire & Ice was my idea of fancy food. Now here I am, feeling all sappy over the restaurant’s imminent closure marking the end of its impressive 19-year run. To celebrate that momentous milestone, chef/owner Ken Oringer is hosting a miscellany of esteemed alumni for a reflective dinner of standout dishes from the past two decades.
The dinner takes place December 15, featuring the likes of Rick Billings from Jose Andres Restaurant Group, Doron Wong from New York City’s Yunnan Kitchen, JP Carmona from Manresa in San Francisco, Alex Stupak from New York City’s Empellón, Monica Glass from Starr Catering Group, Tony Maws from Craigie on Main in Cambridge, Chris Chung from AKA Bistro in Lincoln, Massachusetts, Chris Gould from Central Provisions in Portland, Maine, Kenji Lopez-Alt from Serious Eats, Phillip Kirschen-Clark from Café Cluny in New York, Jason Hua from The Dutch in New York City, Zach Watkins from Boston’s Toro, Brandon Rice from Rich Table in San Francisco, and others.
Dishes to be served should be a veritable time capsule of edible Clio goodness, like whole roasted suckling pig with housemade fermented hot sauce and lettuce wraps; smoked veal breast tortellini with white truffles; giant clam with ricotta, celeriac, and whey dashi; and kimchi-brined fried chicken sliders with Korean buffalo sauce.
Dinner kicks off at 6:30 p.m. and costs $250 per person. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 617-536-7200.
Holiday Lunch at Yvonne’s
A holiday tradition lives on at Yvonne’s, the restaurant that took the place of legendary Locke-Ober. Over the course of its mighty run, the previous restaurant became renowned as a Christmastime destination with its decadent lunch traditions. Tipping its cap to said traditions, Yvonne’s pays homage to the past with a holiday-exclusive lunch menu served on set days throughout December. The menu is just as opulent as you might remember, tugging on nostalgic heartstrings with dishes like oysters Rockefeller, Caesar salad, steak tartare, baked lobster Savannah, chateaubriand, and baked Alaska. Lunch is served December 11, 17, 18, and 24, with seatings at noon, 12:30 p.m., 1:00 p.m., and 1:30 p.m. Reservations are required and can be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
IN NEW YORK CITY:
Egg Nog at ’21’ Club
One of the best parts about the holidays is getting drunk off potable eggs, am I right? At the very least, boozy egg nog is a good way to numb your senses and make the shopping melee that much more bearable. An apt destination this season is ’21’ Club. The famed speakeasy is serving up boozy nog this season, infused with rum, bourbon, and brandy. Drink it by the fireplace and feel happy.
If you’d rather make it at home, the folks at ’21’ were kind enough to spread the holiday joy and share a recipe:
Yield: Approximately 20 servings
12 Eggs (separated)
1 lb. Confectioner’s Sugar
2 qt. Heavy (Whipping) Cream
2 1⁄2 c. Myers's Rum
1 c. Larceny Bourbon
1⁄2 c. Bardinet Napoleon V.S.O.P. Brandy
Combine rum, bourbon and brandy, and hold to the side. Whip egg yolks with confectioner’s sugar and 2 cups of the liquor blend. Cover and let sit for 1 hour. Then, whip in the cream and remaining 2 cups of liquor into the mixture. Refrigerate for 4 hours. Next, whip egg whites and fold into the mixture. Garnish with fresh gratings of nutmeg or a cinnamon stick. Note, this recipe may be halved or doubled. It may also be frozen.
Star Wars Ice Cream at Ample Hills Creamery
For ice cream, I scream. I am admittedly not a huge Star Wars fan, but I assume that’s how Yoda would talk about ice cream. And I’m assuming that’s how he would feel about the special Star Wars ice cream flavors currently being doled out at Ample Hills Creamery. The ice cream shop has two flavors this month, The Dark Side and The Light Side, made in collaboration with Disney Consumer Products. The former features chocolate ice cream with espresso fudge brownies, cocoa crispies, and white chocolate pearls (and, you know, pure evil). The Light Side contains marshmallow ice cream, housemade crispie clusters, and some of those cocoa crispies. The flavors are sold in four-packs of collectible containers, each one bedecked with original Star Wars artwork.
Holiday markets aren’t exactly a rare breed this time of year, but the HoliDose market put on by Dose Market is uncommonly fantastic. The 5th annual December event put on by Chicago’s preeminent artisan market takes place this Sunday, December 13, at Morgan Manufacturing, featuring more than 100 vendors that run the gamut from food and beverage to art, fashion, and housewares. It makes the North Pole look like a Walgreens. And not one of those fancy Walgreens either. Founder April Francis curates some of the best and coolest indie vendors around, including first-time Dose vendors like Scone City, Thank You Chinese, Snaggletooth, Article One, and Skin & Bones. Other options this go-round include Dough Bird Baking Company, By M Desserts, Wixter Market, Stock MFG Co, FELT, Sauce and Bread Kitchen, City Tree Delivery, and plenty more. HoliDose runs from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and the cost to attend is $10. Tickets are sold online-only and can be purchased here.
Lunch Plates at Bar Takito
I feel about tacos the way Cookie Monster feels about cookies. So I’m about to go NUTZ at Bar Takito, because not only do they make some of my favorite tacos in Chicago (hand-pressed to-order tortillas!), but the restaurant is now featuring a killer weekday lunch deal that offers three tacos and two sides for just $12. Oh hi. Taco options include pork shoulder on a beer tortilla with chile-mezcal sauce, avocado, pickles, cilantro, and pepitas; coffee-braised beef on beer tortilla with queso Oaxaca, jicama, red onion, jalapeño, cilantro, and peanuts; fish on a pepita tortilla with chile-yuzu aioli, cabbage slaw, basil, and crispy rice; and Brunkow cheese with pepita tortilla, aji peanut sauce, pickled jicama, avocado, baby lettuce, and peanuts. Carolina Gold rice, fresh tortillas, and pickled vegetables are available for sides.
Christmas Breads at Easy Tiger
Man, I love Christmas bread. I like a good loaf of stollen more than I like most holiday desserts. And the version being sold at Easy Tiger sounds right up my alley. Along with another peculiar holiday bread I’ve never heard of before; one whose name looks like Voldemort but sounds a lot more delicious. Starting this weekend, Easy Tiger starts selling its version of the popular German Christmas bread, made with a butter- and fruit-packed yeasted dough. The loaves are studded with candied orange and grapefruit, along with local pecans and rum-soaked raisins. Once baked, the loaves are brushed with clarified butter and rolled in sugar. As for that other bread, vörtbröd, it’s a darker bread rooted in Swedish lore. It’s made with wort, the malt and hop mixture brewed in porters, which helps explain its dark, heady hue. Along with cloves, ginger, and Seville orange peels. Advanced ordering of these breads is advised and can be done by calling 512-614-4972 or emailing email@example.com.
(chilled beet and lemongrass soup; photo by Carly Diaz)
Aviary’s Vegetarian Tasting Menu
When I was a vegetarian in high school, I remember my options seeming woefully inadequate. Although my meat-free days are long since behind me, I still can’t help but bemoan the lack of creative, thoughtful vegetarian fare at restaurants that aren’t vegetarian-exclusive. Which is why I appreciate places like Aviary spotlighting vegetables the way they deserve to be spotlighted. Courtesy of chef Sarah Pliner, herself a former vegetarian, and inspired by the ravenous success of the quarterly vegetarian dinner series, the restaurant now offers a nightly four-course vegetarian tasting menu. Also available as a la carte dishes, examples from the tasting menus include chestnut soup with Brussels sprouts, salted duck egg, and maple syrup; slow-roasted onion flan with winter squash, quinoa, Asian pear tapenade, and parsley-olive jus; and chilled beet and lemongrass soup.
Hot Cakes Wilderness Collection
Whenever I’m tearing into a plate of dessert, I often find myself yearning for altruism. When cake goes to a good cause, it at least mitigates my guilt about clogging my arteries and my skinny jeans. Seattle’s venerable Hot Cakes to the rescue! The bakery’s new Wilderness Collection affords sweets with a side of good will, wherein sales from select items benefit a variety of organizations that work to protect wildlife. Items in the collection include the new line of innovative caramel sauces and the smoked chocolate chips and s’mores kit. Sauce flavors include the Campfire Caramel Sauce made with mesquite and hickory-smoked sugar and alder-smokes sea salt; the White Sage Caramel Sauce with wild sage grown in the deserts of southern California; and Juniper Caramel Sauce made with juniper seed cones. A portion of proceeds from the sales of these items benefit different wilderness charities each quarter, with the first ones being Forterra, Washington Trails Association, and the Sierra Club in the first quarter of 2016.