Happy Holidays! It’s no secret that I’ve expressed my dismay on the holiday season lurking further and further into fall, but, blame it on Hurricane Sandy raining on that (Halloween) parade, but this year, Walter and I are full of holiday cheer.
We’ll, of course, be baking Christmas cookies, displaying a (living) tree for the first time, making decorations and hosting a holiday cocktail party. While our opinions of Christmas music still greatly differ, here’s a list of things I’m (we’re?) excited for this season:
The Nutcracker– For all the years I’ve lived in or near New York, and danced ballet myself, I’ve never attended a ballet at Lincoln Center. The Nutcracker is one of the most famous and iconic ballets (second, perhaps to Swan Lake) and has been staged by the NYC Ballet for almost 60 years. I can’t wait to see the glittery costumes, difficult choreography and the reprisal of my role as the naughty child who assists in breaking the Clara’s precious gift (shout out to Dance Place Plus!). Bûche de Noël from Payard– A few years ago, I was asked to film an episode of Throwdown! with Bobby Flay. When I arrived on set, I had no idea what I would be sampling, except that it would be something sweet. We were filming at Payard Patisserie on the Upper East Side and, despite it being in early October, we were given their signature holiday treat, Bûche de Noël. I’ve tasted yule logs in the past, but no dessert has ever compared to this cake. Quite frankly, I don’t like cake, but with layers of chocolate mousse topped with a hazelnut wafer, this stands as the best dessert I’ve ever had, and it was no surprise that Francois Payard was the victor of the challenge.
- Soul Kitchen – If you’re from New Jersey, I don’t have to tell you that anyone raised in the Garden State has an unequivocal love for 3 b’s: bagels, Bruce, and Bon Jovi. While seeing The Boss and Bon Jovi in concert (together!) still remains high on my bucket list, this weekend I will get a chance to see another side of JBJ, and how much he gives back to his home state with his new project, Soul Kitchen, a community restaurant located in Red Bank. The concept is simple – you enjoy nutritious 3 course meal and pay the suggested donation amount ($10 or more), or, if you’re unable to afford it, you can volunteer in the kitchen. Soul Kitchen welcomes anyone at their table, and all of the ingredients used are fresh, local and organic. With the recent devastation the Jersey Shore has endured from Hurricane Sandy, I’m happier than ever to support this cause.
Harry & David pears– I’ve had a long love affair with these pears since my publishing days when vendors would send them as office gifts during December. The holidays are certainly a time to indulge (see: bûche de noël), but these pears are so juicy and decadent that despite being a guilt-free dessert, you won’t miss out on flavor. And who doesn’t love saving the gold wrapped pear for last? Samaritan’s Purse– It’s important to remember, especially during the holidays, how lucky many of us are to have a place to live, food to eat and loving friends and family. Many people all around the world aren’t as fortunate, and being apart of Operation Christmas Child is my small way of giving back and brightening someone’s day. Participating is really simple. Choose an age range and gender, fill a shoebox with treats and toys and bring it to a drop off location near you. OCC will send the box to a special child somewhere in the world, and you’ll feel good knowing you impacted a child’s life. The Polar Express– Another Christmas classic I have yet to see. It’s playing on the IMAX at the aquarium, and Walter and I plan on wearing our tacky Christmas best and bringing along some spiked hot chocolate.
- Mistletoe – How fun that a tiny little plant can spice up an otherwise dull party! I will be hanging some in a secret location during our cocktail party – guests, be forewarned!