Every day, our friends in the media pose all sorts of questions to us and our clients. After years of conversing, we know them pretty well and know they have lots of interesting things to say, too. So, here and there, we'll do the asking.
Today, in the midst of the winter holiday season, we're wondering just a few things....
What's the best holiday story from your childhood that you're willing to share?
Brian Freedman, Philadelphia Weekly: Though it’s not winter-holiday specific, the one that’s told every year at my family’s Passover seder is when, at my uncle’s house in 1987, 10-year-old me refused to have the symbolic splash of sweet Manischewitz in my glass. My father, asking across a table of 20 or so people what I’d rather taste, was shocked when I answered, “I’d prefer a glass of Beaujolais.” He collects wine and had been teaching me about it since I was six, so his paternal pride led him to pass down a bottle of actual Beaujolais for me to splash into my glass. Somewhere along the way, however, he became distracted, and I began downing gulp after gulp of it. By the end of the night, I was one seriously intoxicated 10-year-old kid. Happy Passover to me.
Kristin Detterline, Philadelphia Style: My grandfather, who was incredibly stubborn and strong-willed, bought the holiday turkey. He never allowed enough time for it to thaw so we had overcooked London Broil and canned peas for Christmas dinner for 10 people. He still did not admit he ruined dinner.
Caroline Russock, Philadelphia City Paper: My mother read somewhere that the key to a juicy turkey was cooking it in a paper bag from the supermarket. Regardless of the fact that it caught on fire every single time she kept on attempting to cook the turkey in a bag for at least ten Thanksgivings.
What are you drinking if you’re trying to pace yourself? What do you start you drinking once that idea goes out the window?
Molly Eichel, Philadelphia Daily News: I prefer whiskey on all fronts so if I’m pacing myself I just drink slower.
Adam Erace, Philadelphia City Paper: My wife and I host Christmas at our house. Our parents and brothers usually come over in the late morning/early afternoon so I start out with something lightweight, effervescent and off-dry, like Moscato d'Asti. Traditionally it's a dessert wine, but I think it also makes a fantastic aperitif with snacks and cheese. Them I'm on to Applejack and whisky.
Joy Manning, Edible Philly: I drink wine most of the time. When I'm drinking cocktails, there can be problems.
Best dish served by you, your friends and/or family over the holidays?
Danya Henninger, Zagat Philly and Philly.com: My mother-in-law is Greek, and her roast hams and turkeys are as good as her rosemary-scented potatoes, but the dish I look forward to most is her spanakopita, They're perfect triangles of flaky filo crust with a feta-heavy filling that's never overly salty. Best way to get your spinach fix, ever.
Freedman: Every once in a while, my mother whips up a sachertorte - a spectacular flourless chocolate cake with a fine seam of raspberry beneath the top layer of chocolate. With a glass of Port, it's pretty much perfect.
Russock: As per my turkey story above, I come from a family of terrible cooks. So far this season the best, most festive was probably the Peach Bellinis at Hanukkah brunch at Four Seasons.
You're invited to a holiday party...what do you bring?
Lauren McCutcheon, Philadelphia Daily News: If I'm feeling ambitious, it's Pigs in a Blanket. If not, it's beer.
Henninger: Especially if I'm going out of town, Philly booze or beer. For example, Bluecoat Gin, Shine White Whiskey, Dad's Hat Rye, corked-and-caged brews from Victory, a mixed six of Yards, etc.
Detterline: A bottle of rose is always a solid choice. Or a beautiful cheese tray or champagne flutes for friends.
Manning: Wine, usually prosecco or sparkling rose. And often a crowd-pleasing starter. I love these sausage and potato puffs (made with Fiorella's sausage, of course). Everyone likes them, always.
What's a bad holiday food you'd like to see remade and improved?
Eichel: I'm not a ham person, so improve upon ham by making it "not ham" anymore.
Erace: A lot of the deep-fried seafood dishes on Christmas Eve are the worst: flabby, gummy, greasy. But deep-fried seafood is amazing when done right! So, I'd like some family members to get some training in that area.
McCutcheon: Turkey. Never had a bite I liked.
What's the best give you've ever given?
McCutcheon: Cashmere pajamas to my mom. Or donuts.
Freedman: Last year, right around Hanukkah, I finalized the tickets to take my wife and two daughters over to Puglia, Italy for the month of June.
Eichel: I'm a KILLER gift giver. I will brag about it for weeks in advance. I've gotten my brother in a couple family Secret Santas as of late. He went to [University of] Michigan so last year I found this Michigan beer stein that I was pretty proud of (I also put a cashmere scarf inside, so that helped). I'm also pretty proud of the gifts I got my boyfriend this year, but those are a secret.
Big or small, plausible or not, what is the one thing on your list this year?
Erace: Slippers. Seriously, I'm tired of walking around my house in flip-flops.
Russock: Beach, beach, beach, beach.
Detterline: My attainable gift is a Fitbit to remind me to up from this desk once in awhile. My lofty gift is my dream trip to Italy with stops in Florence, Capri and Venice.
Henninger: Affordable health insurance? Ha. But really, my husband and I are probably going to splurge on getting our dog's teeth cleaned. His continued happiness is one of the best gifts we can give ourselves.