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A New Chef Comes to Town

Food

John Welch, the Interlaken Inn’s new executive chef, is a big, affable fellow who got his start in a restaurant kitchen at age 16, washing dishes in York Beach, Maine. The town was “desolate” in winter, Welch says. But in summer it was jammed with tourists, there for the surf, the lobster, the oysters and the fries. 

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What Makes Champagne Champagne?

Wine

When I was 15, my grandmother, a forceful and eccentric woman who loved travel, took me to Paris, and in the soft evening of our first day, she walked me across La Place Vendôme and into the Ritz. She ordered us each a Champagne cocktail with the little lump of sugar dabbed in Angostura bitters driving a flurry of bubbles to the surface. 
This was a heady moment. Paris. The Ritz. Hemingway. Champagne. Adventure. A universe away from East 91st Street.

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Busy With Holiday Stuff? Make Soup

Food

No one goes to a museum restaurant expecting a great lunch. Generally, the food is so-so. OK if you are starving. But at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Leon Graham and I stopped in to the little cafe there on our way to a new exhibit, and I had a wonderful soup I had forgotten about: Thai chicken noodle. 

The museum’s version was fabulous. Silky, lime-spiked, a little hot, a little salty with slivers of chicken and wonderful, glassy noodles.

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A Final Word (This Year) On Thanksgiving

Food

Ah Turkey Tetrazzini, the great American dish following the great American holiday: a simple recipe for using up a lot of leftover bird after Thanksgiving: Just add white sauce, mushrooms, spaghetti, maybe a splash of white wine or sherry and bake with grated Parmesan on top. 

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The Whitney and Frank Stella

Excursions

never liked the old Whitney Museum. I could appreciate the daring and daunting strength of Marcel Breuer's design, but it always seemed inhospitable, protecting rather than cherishing the trove of great American art inside. So when the museum abandoned its several rejected plans to expand around the Madison Avenue location and turned its face south, we could hope for the best. And we got it.

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It’s Not Your Mother’s Cranberry Sauce Anymore

Food

Cranberry sauce. Every family has its own, from that solid jellied cranberry sauce circled with ridges from the can (my children’s absolute favorite), to the canned sauce with whole berries, and then many variations of cranberries with orange, with nuts, with cognac, with raisins. But the oddest and most famous must be Mama Stamberg’s cranberry relish, which National Public Radio reporter Susan Stamberg repeats for listeners year after year. Any day now we will get it again, I expect.

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Watching a Chef Make Your Dinner

Food

It’s a party, a  dinner party: Nice hosts, lots of food, plenty of cider and wine.

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Oh, the Magic of Keiew Tod

Food

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The First Big Mac … Kinda

Food

China takes credit for inventing ice cream, spaghetti and V8. Yes. V8. (See China Daily sometime between June 1989 -1990) But the great and ancient Kingdom has never, as far as I know, staked a claim to the first burger.
But there it is: The Lion’s Head, a great ball of ground, seasoned pork draped in cabbage leaves resembling a lion’s mane, it is said.

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A Love Story About Tomatoes: Growing Them And Cooking Them

Food

One year, a skunk took a bite out of every single tomato in my garden. Another year they all rotted. Last year they never got ripe. And most years, by the end of July they all just tip over. I figured if I could solve the last problem, the others would take care of themselves.  

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