Cuisine Noir — Delicious Life: Around the world libation celebrations

by wands on December 1, 2009

(Delicious Life column, Cuisine Noir magazine, December 2009 issue)

The British pour brandy over their Christmas pudding and flame it. The Swiss melt cheese in with their wine and eat it as fondue. California chef, author and owner of Oakland’s hugely popular Brown Sugar Kitchen, Tanya Holland, makes a holiday ham glaze using 1 cup bourbon, 2 cups molasses and 1 tablespoon peppercorns. “In a saucepan, bring the bourbon, molasses and peppercorns to a boil, then reduce to a simmer to cook off the alcohol,” advises Holland. Keep at a simmer until the quantity is reduced by half, and has thickened. Then spoon it over your scored ham, speared with cloves and decorated with pineapple, as is your tradition, and bake till crispy.

When it comes to friends, food and entertaining, alcohol can be a lot more than something you pour into a glass and drink. Start brainstorming beyond beer, wine, cocktails and shots, and a whole new world of exotic and delicious easy-to-execute holiday options open up.

Here are six more easy and creative spirit-filled holiday ideas

1) Break with tradition. Get inspired. Go shopping in your favorite wine, liquor and liqueur store with international travel in mind. Where would you go if you could wave a wand and be somewhere exotic for the holidays? Make alcohol choices that are country specific then prepare food to match. For example, for a Spanish–themed Christmas, pop a few bottles of cava (Spanish sparkling wine); for your red wine choice go for a Tempranillo; make sure you have a good Spanish sherry; and put a selection of tapas on the menu.

2) In the United States, holiday time is eggnog time. No time to make it from scratch? Buy it — and get creative. If you’re going to add rum, choose rum from somewhere exotic. “How about a delicious little Martinique eggnog?” Who could resist? And remember, it’s your eggnog, so do as you please. Add a slug of Godiva (for chocolate lovers) or Kahlua (to give your nog coffee flavored oomph). Put pitted cherries into the glasses and add a dash of kirsch to the nog. Top with whipped cream and grated dark chocolate. Have fun. … Click here to read the full version of “Around the world libation celebrations — using alcohol with festive season flair” — my monthly Cuisine Noir Delicious Life column.

© Wanda Hennig and Cuisine Noir magazine, 2009

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