A New Tradition: Mock Holiday Borscht

The great thing about being an adult is that you’re free to either continue the traditions of your past, or to create totally new ones of your own design. I’ve started one that I call the “Mock Holiday.” It’s usually held the week after an actual holiday because it’s cheaper to rent costumes and they’re more available. Costumes, you say? Well of course! Holidays should be festive, and besides, it’s always better to overindulge and possibly have the contents of your just-eaten dinner magically reappear, while wearing someone else’s clothing. Our mock holidays are always planned around a lavish dinner prepared and contributed to by each member of the family. And when I say family, I mean a twisted group of like-minded acquaintances that meet on an annual basis to dine, drink and celebrate each others’ company, always at the expense of the poor bastard who has to host it at their place. Some of our past Mock Holidays have included a ‘Zombie Thanksgiving’ where each participate had to dress up in full pilgrim attire while sporting their best white-faced, brain craving makeup; ‘Super Hero Trans-Gender Christmas’ where everyone arrives dressed as their favorite opposite-sex comic book crusader, (you should have seen my She-Hulk); and our ‘Easter Playboy All-Nighter’ where all of the guys dressed in pajamas and smoking jackets, and the girls dress up as….bunnies!

Our one rule about following a traditional holiday with a mock holiday is that we can’t have traditional food like turkey for Thanksgiving or ham for Easter. Our Mock Holidays are just an excuse to get together and eat copiously, so it’s up to the current host to decide the menu. ‘Zombie Thanksgiving’ featured deep-dish pizzas while ‘Easter Playboy All-Nighter’ had lobster thermidor. Our only tradition is to be untraditional!

This weekend is no exception. To celebrate ‘Slave Labor Day’ (which is the buzz-kill of all holidays as it marks the end of summer), forget about brats and burgers and say hello to a traditional Russian feast featuring ice cold vodka, borscht and beef stroganoff! Why Russian? Hell, why not? Actually it’s where my finger landed when I closed my eyes and picked a volume from my cookbook library. And that’s the reason why I’m including my borscht recipe. It’s a little untraditional as I like to sear my beef cubes prior to boiling my stock, but then that seems to be the central theme here. So go forth and celebrate ‘Slave Labor Day’ in style! And help me make a decision here; should I go as a Chinese railroad laborer or an Egyptian pyramid builder?

Katt’s Borscht

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The Endless Road Trip – San Diego’s Top 10 Eats: 6. Uni Everything

We were excited enough to eat live sea urchin at the farmers’ market in San Diego, but that wasn’t the end of our uni adventures. At Sea Rocket Bistro, those salty, meat-y, rich little bites of pink flesh come served in a sea urchin shooter, submerssed in nothing else but our liquid obsession of the moment—ginger beer—plus chili flakes and lemon juice.

A seafood smorgasbord…and and even crazier sea urchin usage…after the jump.

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The Endless Road Trip — San Diego’s Top 10 Eats: 4. The Veggie Burger Comes Full Circle

Once upon a time, veggie burgers were merely a last-resort option for lonely vegetarians at BBQs or meat-centric restaurants that didn’t have a single other flesh-free entree. As we know, they’ve come a long way since then. Now, faux burgers are less likely to be be a poor man’s meat substitute, and more often something inventive enough that even a human carnivore would want to eat.

My second San Diego food truck stop took me to MIHO Gastrotruck. I had heard good things about their carnitas tacos and pork belly bahn mi, but one particular thing on the chalkboard menu caught my eye:

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Cocktail O’Clock: Just Beet It

ES called beets in cocktails the next big thing way back in 2010, and sure ‘nough we are seeing them show up on drink lists coast to coast.

This one, from Poste Moderne Brasserie in Washington, DC, mixes up beets for martini lovers.

Just Beet it

1/2 oz. Grey Goose vodka
1/4 oz. lemon juice
1/4 oz. beet juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup

Shake with ice and strain into a martini glass with a beet salt garnish.

(Photo: Jason Wiles)

Find dozens more creative cocktail recipes in Endless Cocktails.

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Top 10 New Foods of 2011

Another year gone by, another chance to look back fondly at the thousands of things we stuffed our faces with in 2011. After much internal debate, we’ve narrowed it down to just 10 — the very best new things we shoved in our mouths in 2011.

10. Tater Tot Poutine

Montreal’s greasiest, gravy-iest contribution to the food world, poutine officially became a trend back in 2010. It got even more amazing this year when chef Kyle Bailey of D.C.’s ChurchKey had the ingenious idea to replace the french fries with tater tots.

9. Kouign Amann

We first discovered this over-the-top traditional pastry, which is something like a croissant with twice as much butter and sugar, on a trip to Brittany, France this summer. Returning home, we were pleased to find it blowing up in the states. The best version we’ve tasted to far is the one above, from Starter Bakery in Oakland. It has also popped up at Dominique Ansel in New York and Bouchon Bakery in L.A.

8. Nouveau Filipino

Filipino food is among the most far-out in the world, so it was only a matter of time before it got a hipster update. From Adobo Hobo’s Filipino tacos in San Francisco to Maharlika’s spicy arroz caldo in New York (above), we’ll take all the creative Filipino cuisine we can get.

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