Let’s say hello to December and its tasty promises, from cookies to tamales. Here are a half-dozen bites and events I’m looking forward to during the most festive month of the year.
Cookies by Clay Conley
The Buccan Palm Beach chef, whose eclectic small plates revolutionized the island’s dining scene, makes a mean chocolate chip cookie. If you’ve ordered one from Buccan’s midday Sandwich Shop, you may understand my cookie craving.
Now you can order those Palm Beach-famous jumbo cookies online via same-day shipping. They’re individually wrapped and boxed in a nifty Buccan-branded box that proclaims, “Fresh from Palm Beach.”
The scratch-made cookies are sold by the dozen ($84.95 plus tax) or half-dozen ($48.95 plus tax). They’re shipped out nationally for free on the same day they’re ordered.
All orders, local and national, are accepted at BuccanCookies.com.
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Christmas tamales by Aurora
What makes Aurora García Ramos’ Mexican tamales so special is that she makes them in the old-school tradition she learned from her grandmother in their native town of Tehuitzingo in Puebla state. In fact, she still has her grandmother’s vintage metate mealing stone for grinding alkalized corn.
The tamales are delicious because they’re not over-seasoned. You can taste the beautiful corn and the four, lovingly made fillings: pork, chicken, cheese or vegan veggie.
Aurora sells them at her Delray Beach GreenMarket stand on Saturdays. She’ll be at the market through Dec. 17. After that, she’s taking tamal orders on her Aurora’s Mexican Kitchen Facebook page.
Immokalee hot sauce (and more)
Because we’ll need hot sauce for those Christmas tamales, how about sauce that’s made and bottled in Florida? The young entrepreneurs at Taste of Immokalee, a nonprofit that teaches business skills to the children of Immokalee’s farmworker community, sell their own branded line of hot sauces, salsas and barbecue sauces online.
A bottle of Taste of Immokalee habanero hot sauce ($3.99) ought to do for a large batch of tamales or tacos. But it’s hard to resist the brand’s gift bundles, like the Bonfire Cookout ($50), which includes the habanero sauce as well as serrano hot sauce, chipotle barbecue sauce, Mandarin tangerine barbecue sauce and a customized apron.
This year, the Taste of Immokalee team has added other Florida-made products to their bundles. You’ll find cookies by Fort Myers chocolatier Norman Love, roasted coffee by Cape Coral’s Java D’Oro, gluten-free treats by Immokalee’s Epiphany Bakery, honey by Winter Park Honey and other local treats.
Orders are accepted online at TasteofImmokalee.com.
Andy’s Venezuelan holiday plate
The hallacas (Venezuelan tamales) looked so tasty on Andy’s Latin Food’s Instagram site, I decided I couldn’t wait until December. I tasted them before Thanksgiving.
Andres and Patricia Villalobos, who named their Palm Beach Gardens eatery after their beautiful boxer Andy, make the corn hallacas in the style of their native Maracaibo, Venezuela. They stuff the gluten-free corn dough with stewed chicken, olives, raisins, chickpeas, potatoes and aromatics, and wrap them in plantain leaves before boiling them. The result is an hallaca with a savory-sweet middle, scented by the plantain leaf.
The hallacas are sold at $10.99 each, $60 for a six-pack and $115 for a dozen. They are also sold as part of Andy’s holiday combos. The holiday plate ($25), for instance, includes an hallaca, pork, pan de jamón (sweet bread stuffed with ham and olives) and chicken-potato salad.
For Christmas Eve pickup, hallaca orders must be placed by Dec. 17. For New Year’s Eve, they must be placed by Dec. 20 and picked up on Dec. 30.
Andy’s Latin Food: 9920 Alternate A1A, Suite 803, between Publix and Planet Fitness in the Promenade Shopping Plaza, Palm Beach Gardens, 561-702-7710
Palm Beach Food and Wine Fest fun
One of my favorite “foodie” events starts in less than a week. The Palm Beach Food and Wine Festival, which goes from Dec. 8-11, is a favorite because it’s grand and intimate at once. It’s grand not only because it gathers Michelin-starred chefs, James Beard Award winners and others you’ll recognize from food TV, but because you can actually chat with them and because festival organizers spare no detail at the events.
Want to say hi to Food Network’s Maneet Chauhan? Walk up to her stand at next Saturday’s “Chillin’ n’ Grillin’” cookout ($200) at the Eau Palm Beach Resort next Saturday.
Want to meet some of the country’s top pitmasters? Check out the festival’s “Smoke and Sunshine, a Craft BBQ Meat-Up” event ($125) at Tropical Smokehouse, also Saturday.
Want to sip bourbon with star chef Robert Irvine? You’ll find him at the fest’s “Beef N Bourbon Experience” at Okeechobee Steakhouse Thursday night ($350).
As of this writing, tickets for those events are still available. Although more than half of the festival’s events are sold out, good events do remain.
In addition to the three above, tickets remain for chefs Lindsay Autry and Ashley Christensen’s “Southern Revival” lunch ($200) at Autry’s Regional restaurant on Friday, Dec. 9. Ditto for Friday’s “Mexican Lunch” at chef Julien Gremaud’s Avocado Grill, an event ($200) that now features chef Clay Conley as well as Harrison Ford’s famous-chef son Ben Ford (of Ford’s Filling Station in Los Angeles).
Tickets also are available for “Bubbles and Bites, a Yacht Rock Experience” on Sat., Dec. 10. The walk-around tasting event ($200) at PGA National Resort stars chefs Jeremy Ford and Lindsay Autry, who have restaurants at the resort.
Of course, there’s also the festival’s grand finale, the one-stop-shopping event known as the Grand Tasting on Sunday, Dec. 11. The event ($95) returns to the Palm Beach County Convention Center from 2 to 6 p.m. that day.
For information and tickets, visit PBFoodWineFest.com.
Jenniffer Woo’s Reindeer Cake
Rising star pastry chef Jenniffer Woo of Jupiter’s Love Street restaurants has a tempting duo of holiday cakes to consider ($75 each). They include an adorable chocolate reindeer cake. It’s a Black Forest cake that’s rich with cherry liqueur, layered with vanilla Chantilly cream and cherry compote and frosted with chocolate buttercream.
And, yes, Reindeer’s nose is red.
The Charlie and Joe’s at Love Street restaurants are accepting cake orders through Dec. 19. They can be placed by calling 561-955-0208 or by emailing Liz Soulen at [email protected] The cakes can be picked up December 23 and 24 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Love Street’s Beacon restaurant.
Read recent columns by Liz Balmaseda
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Liz Balmaseda is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for The Palm Beach Post, part of the USA Today Network. She oversees The Post’s daily food and dining coverage. Follow her on Instagram and Post on Food Facebook. She can be reached by email at [email protected]