The HOLIDAY TABLE
The HOLIDAY TABLE is an annual celebration for people all over the world.
This holiday season we’ve decided to talk about some of the most popular ethnic cuisines from the U.S., Europe and the Middle East, with an emphasis on French, Spanish, Scandinavian and Jewish/Kosher dishes that are a favorite for the holidays.
Master Chef Marc Bauer of the International Culinary Institute in New York leads us into this special ethnic group.His particular niche, though, is Gallic; fancy pastries that are served in a number of regions in France. His masterful hand, and early memories from his boyhood in France, was a wonderful journey for us.
Alice Loubaton, Senior Trade Relations and Communication Manager for SOPEXA, the industry standard for foods and wines from France added her favorite dishes to Marc Bauer’s selection, including the popular Bouche de Noel, a bombe of cream, fruit, nuts, chocolate, vanilla and more. Escargot, Fois Gras, Ratatouille, together with some of the finest cheeses including Camembert and Chevre, that are served on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and on a number of religious and social holidays throughout the year was her added touch.Enjoyed on these end-of year dates, or whenever Francophiles get together to celebrate an occasion.
Alice has spent more than 30 years with SOPEXA and has lived in France
for a number of years learning everything about French cuisine, French cooking, and the customs and traditions of the French.
Jigi Mathew, Director of Operations for ABIGAEL’S Restaurant in NYC knows more about favorite Kosher dishes than most. His favorite fare
includes Potato-Onion Latkes, served with fresh gated apple sauce, and Jelly-Roll Donuts, called Sufganiyot, powdered with confectionery sugar. On his menu on the holidays of Hanukkah, which begins on Dec. 7 this year, is Brisket, Salmon, a variety of non-shelled seafood dishes, and the traditional fresh baked Challah bread that is served with anything Kosher.This 8-day festival commemorates the rededication of the holy temple of Jerusalem following the victory of the Maccabees in 165 B.C.E. over the Syrian-Greek invaders.
Paco Cid from the office of the Wines of Spain talks about his favorite holiday dishes from his native country. First up for him is
“La Noche Buena,” or Christmas Eve, celebrated throughout the regions of Spain. A festival of dishes is traditionally eaten before or aft of the Midnight Mass in churches throughout the country. So too on the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6, which in Latin-American countries is celebrated as the Feast of the Three Kings, when the Wise Men or Magi from the East supposedly presented the Christ-child with gifts of Frankincense, Gold and Myrrh. Paco goes on to tell us that some of his special dishes include Cordero Asado, or Roast Lamb, a variety of Tapas, Jamon, Chorizo, Manteca cheese, Potatas Fritas, and some of the most delicious confections served on the holidays such as Torron, Polvornes, and Mantecades. His list of wines includes Cava, one of the best known in Spain along with the Rioja wines, Ribera del Duero, and Cardenal Mendoza Sherry. Langostinos, Sopa de Pescado y Marisco, along with Esparragos Blancos are also favorites served on the Eve of Christmas holding to the tradition of seafood instead of meat.
Scandinavia boasts some of the most tantalizing dishes for the holidays asserts Frederic Sunds, one of the managers of SMORGAS CHEF
restaurants in New York City, an amalgam of four. Frederic, who is Swedish by birth, describes the holiday festivities as one of family reunions, an annual tradition prevalent in all of the countries in Scandinavia, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, even in far-away Greenland and Iceland.
His favorite choices include Glogg, the fabled sweet mulled wine that is served on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s day. He adds Pepparkabor, the Swedish version of gingerbread cookies, and Saffronse, or saffron baked buns, after a full plate of tasty Swedish meatballs, Jansson Temptation, named after the 19thcentury Swedish operatic tenor, Pelle Jansson, this a potage of potatoes in cream with anchovies, and Raggmonk, a potato pancake with fried pork and logonberries. He also includes Gravlox and Toasted Skagen, a saddle of prawns, in dill, butter and lemon. He suggests we try end-of-meal small cookies such as Snapps and Gobbroda, with Acquavit, the popular holiday liquor. Note, you might have seen some of these dishes in Ingmar Bergman’s film, “Fanny and Alexander.” The Swedish Institute and the Swedish Tourist Board in New York can offer more info on these dishes. Or try your hand at one of the four restaurants of SMORGAS CHEF.
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The HOLIDAY TABLE show airs Dec.1-30, 2015