This predates Christmas, and thus was photographed without a flash, but it was a pretty good dinner and warrants a quick mention. Kind of a mishmash, it nonetheless managed to be both seasonally resonant and really fucking good to eat. Which you look for in a dinner.
The sweet, starchy substrate for this concatenation was a kabocha squash, roasted in oiled, seeded halves and then cut into wedged eighths. A dense, crumbly-creamy textural gradient with deep caramelization around the edges is an excellent foundation for the last meal of fall. Around the sides are cauliflower florets, steamed and then tossed in a bootleg sauce made from processed cheddar spread—part of a Wisconsin-themed gift box we get from an aunt every year—mixed with milk and herbs. Up above is washugyu chuck eye sliced thin and marinated in leftover miso soup with lots of Korean pepper powder added, then swabbed around a hot skillet and doused with the marinade to thicken it. On top is a crunchy and magnificent tangle of enoki mushrooms fried in duck fat, which are the undisputed heavyweight champion of all garnishes. I invented these a couple of years ago after a trip to Mitsuwa, and my recent stop there on my way back from Brooklyn served as the inspiration for this meal, providing as it did the beef and mushrooms (and miso soup, for that matter). Duck fat enoki fries are as good as crisp embellishments get, and they should be sold in bags like potato chips.
There was also salad, but whatever about that. This is the kind of random, spontaneous, improvised plate that only ever exists once. World’s best garnish, domestic wagyu beef, and processed cheese sauce coexisting on the terrestrial plane for a brief moment before being returned to their rightful home on astral plane (via the Plane of Plumbing). A harmonic convergence, but without all the sanctimonious New Age dipshits droning on and on about how important and meaningful it was. For all the hype and intolerable astrological drivel surrounding 12/21/12, though, it is worth pointing out one remarkable fact: on the exact moment of the solstice, Daniel Pinchbeck got kicked really hard in the nuts by a llama. So we’ve got that going for us. Which is nice.