Creating new Christmas traditions in New York.
Back in our home country of Australia, Christmas heralded the beginning of the summer holidays — several weeks free from the discipline of school or humdrum of work, afternoons spent frolicking in the pool or on the beach, and evenings that began when the sun set at 9pm. Christmas day feasting usually commenced with a small sweet and sticky mince pie, and continued with a turkey roasting in the oven, and more often than not, some other meat being flamed grilled over a BBQ. It usually ended with a slice of dense fruit cake, a wedge of heavily-intoxicated brandy pudding drizzled with hot custard, or a morsel of expensive chocolate.
If one of the quickest ways to become acquainted with a new country is to browse grocery stores, another is to participate in the cultural traditions of that country. For example, we found Christmas in the U.K. to be very similar to that of Australia (or maybe it is vice-versa, due to the shared history), albeit replace the pool or beach with heavy grey skies. By contrast, when we lived in Hong Kong, Christmas there was essentially a food-eating competition, of how much of the mind-boggling buffets of international cuisine (see here) could possibly fit into a human body. And in New York, although Christmas for most Americans is somewhat overshadowed by Thanksgiving, our expatriate Christmas tradition for the last four years has always been to stroll around the Christmas markets, partake in a hot chocolate tour, and pay a visit to Williams Sonoma — to make a Santa wish list of our dream kitchen utensils and equipment, and to purchase its seasonal desserts.
The first Christmas dessert that we love from Williams Sonoma has to be its incomparable “Peppermint Bark,” a dessert that we had never heard of until we lived in NYC. At USD $29.95 for one tin can, it’s a little bit of a splurge, but makes for a wonderful gift or a self-treat. The store’s website provides the most apt description of this dessert: composed of “custom-blended Guittard chocolate and triple-distilled oil of peppermint,” and “finished with a snowfall of peppermint candy pieces.”
We also love Williams Sonoma’s “Peppermint Wafers” ($12.95), crunchy long cigarettes of chocolate and peppermint. And, we always make a point to take home a weighty glass polar bear or gingerbread man filled with maple syrup ($22.95) to add to the apartment’s Christmas decor.
Here’s a toast to a hope that we can take several tin boxes of Williams Sonoma’s Peppermint Bark home to Australia one day soon. Farewell 2020, and welcome 2021!
Dessert adventure checklist
- ☑ Dessert destination: Williams Sonoma, Flatiron and Upper West Side.
- ☑ Budget: $$-$$$.
- ☑ Sweet irresistibles: Chocolate.
- ☑ Must-eat: Peppermint bark.
- ☑ The short and sweet story: Creating new Christmas traditions in New York.