Highlights from today's newspaper food coverage:
Today, the New York Times visits the soon-to-be dismantled and sold Tavern on the Green, the legendary and legendarily overpriced restaurant in New York's Central Park best-known for its topiaries and passion for Christmas lights. For a time the country's most lucrative restaurant, the Tavern's failure is one of the most high-profile restaurant closures in recent years, and Kay LeRoy, one of the owners, ex-wife of the Tavern's founder and former TWA "air hostess," gives a thoroughly entertaining tour of the restaurant's many knickknacks and artifacts -- including a chandelier from 1790, a 3-foot German carved monkey, and a topiary of King Kong (which was, of course, debuted by Fay Wray). The article's accompanying slide show is an oddly moving tribute to a very different, more luxurious time (i.e., 2007).
The Globe and Mail writes about the growing profile of food swaps -- becoming increasingly popular among "epicures and busy parents looking for convenience without compromising on nutrition." Wency Leung talks to various swap attendees, who get together every month to exchange heaps of food (one group's hard-to-believe guideline: making your meal shouldn't cost more than a loaf of bread). In a recession, after all, it makes sense to cook more, and spend less -- but, really, less than a load of bread?
As a scary/exciting reminder that the holiday cookie-baking season is already almost upon us, the Washington Post has an extensive cookie recipe roundup today with a mouth-watering slide show. Among the more noteworthy suggestions, blue cheese walnut cookies ("a refined cookie that goes well with port"), homemade graham crackers, and "winter rainbows," which come out looking like a 1970s gay pride sweater.
The L.A. Times reports on the growing American supply of the intriguing once-banned Mexican fruit, tejocote. The small orange crabapple-like fruits are unappetizing raw, but when cooked have a "sweet-tart apple-like flavor" that makes them a crucial ingredient for ponche, the Mexican holiday punch. Tejocote can't be imported because it harbors pests, but it wasn't until five years ago that a Californian farmer began producing them domestically. (Mexico has recently filed to have the ban removed.) The small fruits can also be preserved peeled in syrup, used in jams or Christmas piñatas, or candied.
The Boston Globe takes a look at the traditions -- and recipes -- that make up Polish Christmas. Lila Pronczuk, a Polish-American whose parents had been confined to labor camps during WWII, explains that Christmas Eve is far more important in Poland than Christmas Day, and whips up a fragrant mushroom soup called zupa grzybowa (made with dried forest mushrooms sent by her 98-year-old Polish father-in-law). It also includes carrots, parsnips, leeks and celery roots, and, as Jane Dornbusch writes, tastes "refined, with a delicate mushroom essence."