When it comes to eating and drinking, December really is the most wonderful time of the year. We emerge (finally) from our Thanksgiving-related food comas to find a whole new level of culinary cheer: holiday cookies and sparkling wine, latkes and festive-flavored lattes. And still, the flavors of December do more than just ignite our taste buds; they spark the fuses of our memories.
A bite of gingerbread brings us back to that time we stood on a stool beside our grandmother and cut Christmasy shapes into dough; a sip of eggnog, to that night we drank just enough to be brave enough to kiss our crush beneath the mistletoe.
It’s not always what you eat and drink, but who you eat and drink it with. So this month, our hope for you is that you enjoy every item on this list with a big heaping side dish of love—whatever holidays you celebrate (or don’t); whether your holiday habits align more with Buddy the Elf or the Grinch Who Stole Christmas himself.
Here are 11 things you need to eat and drink this month.
December can be an overwhelming month—for you, your family, and your credit card statement. Don’t forget to step away from it all (namely, the mall) for a minute to stop and smell the biscuits. This month, we’re especially obsessed with the biscuits at Main Road Biscuit Co. in Jamesport. Read Su-Jit Lin-DeSimone’s story on the new East End eatery and then buckle your seatbelt; within minutes, you’ll be on the LIE heading straight to the North Fork. (Ed Note: no judgement; I would do the same thing.)
Who wants gelt when you can have golden fried latkes? Whatever your religion, take one bite of these bad boys and you’ll be singing “Oy to the World.”
Back in 2014, our sister-mag Edible East End shared 8 Days of Latke recipes that were delicious-looking then and remain delicious-looking now. We’re especially drooling over these sweet potato latkes with smoked fish and these healthier, gluten-free latkes made with veggies. Not into the idea of making them yourself? Head to Kosher Thyme Marketplace in Plainview for latkes at least as good as your Jewish mother’s (just don’t tell her that).
According to a recent report*, the true story behind the classic Christmas song “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth” is that the song’s original singer wanted his two front teeth not to wish you Merry Christmas!, but to eat a thick slice of stollen with butter instead. Luckily for him, Santa is in the business of granting wishes—and we’re in business of giving you great recipes like this one so you yourself can bake the Christmas bread.
“I prepare two loaves of Aunt Greta’s stollen—one for my mom, and one for our family’s Christmas Day celebration,” wrote T.W. Barritt back in 2013. “I can still picture Aunt Greta unwrapping the colorful, yeasty loaf, and instructing us to enjoy it with ‘just a dab of sweet butter.'”
* We’re kidding. To our knowledge there has been no recent report on the true story of that song. Our wish for 2017 is that this changes.
Is one of your resolutions for 2017 to try new things? Start a little early by trying some quark. Made in New York by Misha Dairy, quark is less tangy than yogurt and softer than cottage cheese. It makes a really delicious smoothie.
“Quark is milk that is allowed to rest until it is soured (not spoiled! Think sour cream),” wrote Natalia de Cuba last month. “Misha Dairy does not acidify the milk (which would make it more tart), so that process alone takes 13 hours. It is cultured and strained to a thick creaminess, then heated to the right pH. The result is rich and smooth and packs an amazing 17 grams of protein per cup.”
Sign us up.
With December comes a spectacular number of reasons to celebrate. There’s Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, and New Year’s—and plenty of holiday parties in between. So throw on an ugly sweater and pop open up a bottle of bubbly. Extra points if your bottle’s from out East.
Many of the East End wineries—Lenz, Lieb Cellars, Shinn Estate, Martha Clara, Paumanok, Bedell Cellars, and, of course, Sparkling Pointe (and more)—are producing really gorgeous sparkling wine. Don’t believe us? Just read Eileen M. Duffy’s deep-dive into the effervescent subject in our 2015 holiday issue.
How do we love Peconic Bay Scallops? Let us count the ways. Whether raw, sautéed, or fried with figs, these local scallops are so good we wait for them all year. That’s why we celebrate every first Monday of November; it means Peconic Bay Scallop season is here!
Don’t let December end without eating some.
7. Gingerbread (Preferably in house form—piece by sneaky, little piece)
Run, run, as fast as you can;
You can’t catch us,
We’re eating your gingerbread man.
Just kidding; we’d never do that. We’d just go to Gingerbread University in Riverhead and decorate our own! Why?
“All the gingerbread is made at the University using old-world recipes consisting of dark molasses, brown sugar, all-purpose flour, baking soda and four spices,” wrote Kerriann Flanagan Brosky in our 2016 holiday issue. “The dough is dark and rich unlike the lighter gingerbread dough coming out of China and Canada, where honey and eggs are used and where there is little quality control.”
Want to bake your own? We really like this recipe.
One of the Great Mysteries of the World for us is how anyone could hate brussels sprouts. So, of course, we’re on a little mission. If you hate brussels sprouts, we suggest you try this recipe for Brussels Sprouts Gratin. If anything could make you a brussels believer, it’s this.
Last month, we shared the news that we partnered with Montauk Brewing Company to brew a beer made entirely with ingredients from New York. Our boozy, locavore hearts are still aflutter. So, this month, we think you should try it. Edible Rye Pale Ale is available on tap at Hoptron Brewtique in Patchogue, Verde Kitchen & Cocktails in Bay Shore, Townline BBQ in Sagaponack, Almond in Bridgehampton, and Harvest on Fort Pond in Montauk.
“The Edible Rye Pale Ale is unique and limited thus experiencing this beer at the source is what makes the process so much fun,” wrote Vaughan Cutillo, co-founder of Montauk Brewing Company for Edible East End last month. “Edible and Montauk Brewing Company focus on quality and story, and this collaboration beer is a tribute to the individuals who helped brew this beer every step of the way.”
Cheers. Consider us sold.
10. Hot Chocolate
Step one: cut-your-own Christmas tree.
Step two: warm your cold hands by the fire with a tall mug of hot chocolate.*
*Bonus points if the hot chocolate in your mug is this one—spiked with Brooklyn Stout.
And finally, no list of December must-eats would be complete without holiday cookies! So, head to your favorite local bakery for a box full of your favorites or throw on an apron and get bakin’ yourself. You can’t go wrong with this Almond Linzer Cookie recipe from our archives.
What else are you looking forward to eating and drinking this month? Let us know in the comments!