Sunday, December 03, 2006

Santa Wants Some Loving

Hang up your pretty stockings,
Turn out the light
Santa Claus is coming down your chimney tonight…

The weather is finally catching up with the calendar—I have to say, I was no fan of last week's bizarrely warm days. Guys in T-shirts putting up Christmas tree lots: what is this, LA?

But now it's perfect late-autumn/early winter out there: mid-40s, sunny, with a few late russet and golden leaves clinging to the branches, and the tacky decorations of Carroll Gardens out in full force. E. was in town from D.C. yesterday, and we did what we always do: drink coffee and eat eggs and toast in diners (in this case, the Donut House on Court and Degraw, which is not a doughnut place at all but a classic Formica-table joint, right down to the hand-written signs for fruit salad and rice pudding taped up over the counter and the display of individual-sized boxes of Apple Jacks and Raisin Bran behind the register) and walk to Dumbo so I can make disparaging remarks about the chocolate-covered cornflakes and Cheerios at the Jacques Torres chocolate shop/factory while slurping down their insanely thick hot chocolate, aka Chocolate Pudding in a To-Go Cup.

Then, into to the city to stroll through the West Village. Every single shop and restaurant we ducked into was tiny and crowded; D.C. was Wyoming in comparison. There was the usual insane round-the-block line for Magnolia's pastel cupcakes; we browsed through the stock at Biography Bookshop instead, and got great falafel and hummus sandwiches on puffy, handmade pita at Taïm (222 Waverly Pl., nr. Seventh Ave. S.,212-691-1287) a Village-studio-apt-sized Israeli smoothie-and-falafel joint. The day wound up with prosecco and Stella at Minibar, yet another teensy NYC space, right across from Frankie's 457 Court Spuntino….

….where B. and I went for brunch and the crossword the next morning. Goddamn, their BLT is amazing. I generally hate mayo and claim an indifference to bacon, but not in this case. As Susan W. writes about her Caesar salad in Cooking as Courtship, "Mom tells all her friends that of all the salads in the world she prefers this one. Forgetting how much she hates everything about it." A spicy (virgin) Bloody Mary and a sip of B's vanilla-cognac-spiked cappuccino didn't hurt, either.

It was perfect weather to go driving, except neither of us had a car, so I ended up back home making Christmas-cookie dough for K. and Monday's Dirty Sugar Cookie Swap, using a chocolate cookie recipe from the new Food Made Fast: Baking book from Williams Sonoma (for which, by the way, I wrote the back-of-the-book text, along with a bunch of others in the same series). What I'm hoping for is a roll-out version of Mollie Katzen's killer Double Chocolate Mint cookies; I'm going to add lots of peppermint extract and hope for the best. If they're good, I'll post the recipe. Also on the list: an old Martha Stewart mag recipe for crunchy gingerbread cookies, so I can amuse myself and the troops with all my strange cookie cutters—a squirrel, a cowboy hat, a dreidel, a cowboy boot—along with the usual boy-and-girl (or butch and femme), stars, and hearts.

And what else to listen to than Christmas soul music? No, not baby Jesus gospel, but the best kind of raunchy R&B holiday tunes. Call me irreverent (hey, give me a break, I'm a Hanukkah girl) but I love a good bump-and-grind carol, like Elvis Presley's Santa's Back in Town

Got no sleigh with reindeer
No sack on my back
You won't see me coming in a big black Cadillac

or Rufus Thomas's awesomely slutty I'll be Your Santa Baby

I'll slide down your chimney
And bring you lots of joy
What I got for you mama
It ain't just a toy

And let's not forget Santa Claus Wants Some Loving

Christmas is for the childrens
And I sure want them to be pleased
Right now, mama, on Christmas Eve
Make their pappy happy

or this Pee-Wee-worthy Texas mashup of Tequila and Frosty the Snowman. And, of course, another immortal Rufus Thomas classic, Do the Funky Penguin.

As I open the door someone starts to blow a trumpet and hot jazz smacks me in the chest. I walk into it like a drowning man, which is what I have come here to be.

-Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler's Wife

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