Now that Christmas is all said and done, I can say it was a wonderful holiday. The party kicked off on Christmas Eve at my parents’ house and carried into Christmas Day at Cassie’s parents’ house. Our doggies were with us the whole time.
Because I never was big on eating a bunch of seafood preparations back to back, I’ve always done things a little differently for Christmas Eve dinner. Dad always brings me a small Boars Head ham, and I warm it in the oven. This year, I just packed a little brown sugar onto it before I baked it.
I’ve been building a few new traditions into the meal, thanks to some of our local purveyors, and the family has been loving those. Last year, I made some simple olive oil crostini and topped those with Maplebrook ricotta and Trader Joe’s fig butter. This year, I brought the same ingredients, but also made up a few with Dalmatia fig spread, found at Adventure in Food Trading.
I also made sure to get a big plate of greens. For this, I just tossed baby kale with good olive oil and this really amazing red wine vinegar that my dad had in his house. Yes, it was an odd addition, but I needed some kind of vegetable.
Mom did lots of frying. You can see a little of the seafood here, but my favorite are her classic Napolitana style zeppole, which have some potato in the dough. So damn good!
My brother always looks forward to the duck proscuitto that I bring from Adventures in Food, but, this year, I build on the charcuterie by bringing ‘Nduja from La Quercia that my buddy, The Cheese Traveler, carries. ‘Nduja is a Calabrian cured meat, usually made from some of the lesser desired cuts and plenty of spicy peppers. La Quercia makes theirs with proscuitto and speck, and it’s incredible. Traditionally, it’s used to spice up sauces, but I just let it sit at room temperature and spread it all over my favorite crackers; it’s like spicy, salty, meaty butter. (Unfortunately, it’s not terribly photogenic stuff, but so what.)
When dad saw the stuff on the table, he knew exactly what it was, and I shouldn’t have been so surprised considering he was born in Calabria and makes his own cured meats. I didn’t know, but he’s actually been recently making his own ‘nduja, which I can’t wait to try some time. He taught me that the pronunciation is not “en-doo-ha”, like I thought, but is “an-doo-ya”. Damn, Calabrese! I should have known, Manaya!
After dinner, we exchanged gifts.
Mom and Dad gave me a Nintendo 3DS. My brother and sister-in-law gave me The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds as well as a Mattel DDP action figure. Totally sweet!
Christmas Day was awesome too!
Cassie’s mom got me hooked on Crabbie’s alcoholic ginger beer, which she bought a case of after trying some at The Ruck.
And for dinner, she prepared a beautiful prime rib, an insane potato concoction topped with Corn Flakes unofficially known as “heart attack potatoes”, and a corn casserole that was assembled by Cassie’s aunt. Dessert was chocolate cream pie and cherry pie made from cherries from the backyard, which were carefully picked and frozen at the peak of freshness. Everything was delicious.
Cassie’s parents gave me spices (Za’tar, Sumac, and Ras el hanout) from The Spice Professors. I can’t wait to experiment with those.
After dinner, Cassie and I went home and exchanged our gifts. She really came through with some great stuff!
The rest of the night was spent relaxing.
I’m very thankful and fortunate that my holiday was able to be enjoyed so much.