Well kids, it's six days into the new year and six days into January, and here we all are, hunkering down to our resolutions, or at least hunkering down inside because it's so damn cold. (For those of you in places we're it's not so cold: good for you, but also isn't that so much pressure on becoming your new self immediately?)
January is always a distinct month. December is all about the lead up to the holidays: chilly evenings with mulled wine, slightly frantic workdays, weekends spent in cheer, a mad rush for gifts when you suddenly realize the holidays are days away, and then the lovely breather of time with close ones.
January is the aftermath. It should be a trudge--it's dark, no major reprieve in sight--but we leave that to February. Instead, it's a fresh slate, the novelty of a new season in full force, and time for a little hibernation. And so I bring you the January checklist, full of things to eat and ways to cuddle up, and extremely light on outings because those can wait just a little longer.
Ginger tea: Somewhere over the last few months we got into the extremely old person habit of closing out every evening with a cup of ginger tea. During the days I inhale an unholy number of mugs of lemon ginger mildly rubbishy stuff out of the packet, but night is for simplicity. Slice up ginger (if you can find the fresh stuff--all pink and green--it's 1000% percent worth the extra dollar) and steep it in hot water. If you're feeling a little wild, toss in lemon and honey. It's soothing and fragrant and makes winter just a little more bearable.
Sweet: Yotam Ottolenghi & Helen Goh's book of sweet recipes came out a few months ago, and I'd been dying to get my hands on it since. Luckily the sister is psychic and gifted it to us for the holidays. I'm spending every weekend in January oggling over pineapple tartlets with star anise and the perfect chocolate cake--and have already made the epically bright beet cake with ginger frosting.
Watch Planet Earth II: If you haven't spent an inordinate amount of time with the original Planet Earth--crazy birds doing dance steps, animals fighting, pretty vistas--well, I'm not quite sure where you've been the last ten years. And the follow up is just as deeply narrated by David Attenborough but with visuals so sharp they feel fake, and incredibly dramatic (and weirdly human... though perhaps that's the point) storylines. Within the first twenty minutes you'll see a chase sequence with snakes straight out of a horror film, and feel total pathos as a mama bird sits on her very broken egg, and feel the romance of a penguin huddled, staring at the sea, waiting for her mate. There's nothing like it, and I'm not sure where January would be without it.
French galettes & cider lunch party: An annual tradition, that I always swear should happen in the fall, but inevitably gets pushed to the colder days. We fell in love with Breizh Cafe on a trip to Paris years ago (fun fact: now in Tokyo as well!), as apparently did David Leibovitz. The night before lunching, make up a batch of his buckwheat batter inspired by their unreal galettes. Procure yourself good old fashioned boiled ham, an excellent gruyere-style cheese (we've been using Challerhocker), eggs, and caramelized onions (if you find them pre-made, by all means save yourself the trouble; if you're making them use vinegar.) And for the sweet classic crepes, make up a simple non-buckwheat batter and get yourself nutella, speculoos, or fan favorite lemon-butter-sugar. Purchase copious amounts of yeasty cider (the Basque ones got top vote in our house this year). Make crepes, drink cider, eat crepes. Repeat.
Hanoi House: If you're going to leave your house one time this month, please make it to Hanoi House. The recently opened east village restaurant has some of the most gorgeous Vietnamese food we've had in years, and incredibly warm service. Sit at the bar and if you're a meat eater, order yourself the beef pho with a delicate broth and giant marrow bone, or if you're a flimsy one like me, get yourself the tumeric fish with noodles -- a classic dish done way better than I've seen it anywhere else. (Pro tip: the tiny bar Amor y Amargo is a block away--if you've got to kill a waittime, you may as well do it with a perfectly balanced negroni in hand.)
And if you're not going to leave the house: make David Tanis's recipe for very green fish stew from his book One Dish. It's a great fake-Vietnamese kick of freshness with basil, cilantro, chilis, and lime quickly cooked with broth and fish. Better yet, make David Tanis's recipe for very green fish stew, but start with a rustic, rough pate and your own quick pickled carrots. (We're still going strong on the Bon Appetit quick pickle guide - we threw these in the fridge in the afternoon and ate them just hours later.)