V-Day 2020: Cultural References and All the Fixins

Huzzah and Hello, weirdos! Today marks the fifth annual Weird Valentine Gift post here at WriterJax, and this year is a good one. It’s almost as though society in general has, somehow, become more accepting of the fringe.

I kid. Still, as we head toward VD 2020, I give you five contenders for holiday gift-giving. Go forth and browse to your heart’s content!

Don’t Torture Yourself, Gomez.

Send your favorite horror-file, or least-favorite-person in general, a bouquet of Dirty Rotten Flowers this year, like The Morticia arrangement below. Bonus: the testimonial page on this website is gold, Jerry. Gold.

You Had Me at Au Gratin

For the pun-tacular person in your life who’s all ears, I give you the Potato Parcel. This item was actually featured on Shark Tank and has been sending spuds around the world ever since, including those adorned with photos of the recipient.

Couple Goals

No one knows ’til death do we part like Jack and Sally. Let’s celebrate that love with gaudy-ass jewelry.

Put Some Pink in your Drink

This is too pretty not to share: pink chai tea from Lee.

The Rest is Gravy

No Valentines Day is complete without something unctuous, and when it comes to unctuous, I always vote gravy.

Weird October Food 2018: The DIY Edition

Here we go — my favorite post of the year! The annual round-up of all the weird things I can find happening in the culinary scene during the witching season.

This post always takes a different turn, and this year, it’s a decidedly do-it-your-damn-self kind of list.

Bone In

Take, for instance, the Skeleton Table trend. A few years ago, it was all about Meatheads, but this takes the undead party-platter idea a few femurs further by filling a skeleton’s rib cage with delicious fixin’s. In my research, I found appetizer corpses, dinner bladders, and gut-busting desserts, all laid out in situ.

Thanks for sticking with me through the puns there.

Noodle Nocturne

Squid ink ramen

The trend of black or blackened foods has come up here before, but never before have I stumbled on something so beautiful as Daniel Gritzer’s Halloween Ramen Bowl.

It’s right in the pocket of what I love to write about this time of year — not kitsch, but pure yumminess of the season. Plus, his post lead me to a few otherHalloween Ramenrecipes, including a pumpkin ramen, Hell Ramen, and Dracula Ramen.

Patient Churro

Another hot take on party food I’ve seen recently are Zombie Nachos — especially of the dessert variety. A little cinnamon, a little sugar, a drizzle of raspberry pie filling, and bwa-ha-ha-la.

Of course, if you’re more a fan of the savory undead, there are several more appetizer-centric versions of the zombie nacho platter.

Sleepy Swallows

There’s never a shortage of creepy cocktail ideas this time of year, and it can be hard to pick just one out of the endless recipes for embalming fluid, witches brew, and pumpkin punch.

I thought this sipper looked pretty smokin’, though (sorry, sorry), with a dash of gothic literary charm: the Sleepy Hollow Cocktail, featuring absinthe, Angostura bitters, and a sprig of rosemary set to smudge. This (frankly delightful) blog also has a Raven cocktail and another called Nosferatu’s Blood, for those looking to make a night of it. But I also found a few other Sleepy Hollow drink recipes, plus an Ichabod Crane, so I this may be a head-start on a great themed party.

2018 October Food Trends Spotted at:

In Katrina’s Kitchen

SeriousEats

Jewels of New York

Shaken Together Life

11 of the Best Foodstagrammers in the Berkshires

I think most people are past the ‘Why would I want to see what you had for dinner?’ criticism of social media by now … right?

Even if that phrase is still relevant in some circles, it never made much sense to me. I, personally, would love to see what you had for dinner — or breakfast, lunch, midnight-snack, whatevs.

To that end, I follow a lot of ‘Foodstagrammers’ — culinary content creators who aren’t just posting pictures of plates but also recipes, ingredients, reviews of new eateries, dispatches from farmers’ markets, and more. In order to serve a manageable portion, I’ve listed 11 of my favorite Foodstagrammers who hail from my own backyard, in the Berkshires. It doesn’t hurt that food is one of our things up here in The 413.

So, let’s start with dessert …

SoCo Creamery

(Great Barrington)

SoCo stages professional food photo-shoots featuring their homemade ice cream and gelato, but doesn’t shy away from crowd-pleasing, recurring content like Throwback Thursday or Wisdom Wednesday.

 

MedicMeals 

(Lenox)

Two medics bring the fire to the EMT kitchen, and the results are amazing. They have particular talents in the Benedict bay, and a fun collection of coffee mugs.

View this post on Instagram

Irish eggs Benedict #DontBeASaltyBitch

A post shared by MedicMeals (@medicmeals) on

 

Chocolate Springs 

(Lenox)

Regularly updated images of the latest creations by chocolatier Joshua Needleman and his team, including candies, cakes, and specialty coffees.

 

James Massey

(Great Barrington)

Chef Massey shares his own creations, but always promotes his fellow Berkshire foodies on the side. The result is a great place to find somewhere to go on a Friday night for the eats, even if it’s your own kitchen.

 

Chez Nous Bistro

(Lee)

A savory stream of photos from the kitchen and other nooks of the restaurant, manned  — or should I say, womanned — by Chef and co-owner Rachel Portnoy. Chez Nous is also great about using the link space in their profile to promote upcoming events.

View this post on Instagram

Crabcake oouhouhouhou

A post shared by Rachel (@cheznousbistro) on

 

The Marketplace 

(Pittsfield, Sheffield, Great Barrington)

The Marketplace team – which operates not just the Instagram stream linked above, but this one, too – has a knack for showcasing their artful cups of coffee, mouth-watering sandwiches, and catering options. Their accounts are as much digital specials boards as they are pure, straight-up food porn.

 

Alchemy413

(Pittsfield)

The Alchemy Initiative’s mission is to use “food as the foundation for creative community building,” so it stands to reason that their Instagram stream would be rich with incredible, edible images. Alchemy is also a constant presence at local farmers’ markets, sharing some of the harvests of the month and where to find them.

 

Brian Alberg

(Stockbridge)

A glimpse into the life of a chef: plated dinners, kitchen candids, ingredient spotlights, and plenty of photos of friends and family make for a balanced diet of content from Chef Brian Alberg, Executive Chef/ Vice President of Culinary Development for Main Street Hospitality and The Red Lion Inn.

 

Robin’s Candy

(Great Barrington)

The go-to stream for dizzyingly colorful displays of vintage, international, and hard-to-find candy items.

 

Rubiner’s

(Great Barrington)

Get your cheese on with Rubiner’s savory snaps… frequent photos and information about the finest fromage and other culinary joys.

 

Mountains of Sugar

(Lenox)

Delectable pastries and plenty of process shots from Kimberly Watson, Pastry Chef at Blantyre Resort & Spa.

One last thing … my list is woefully low on North Berkshire County establishments. Share your favorites from that corner of the world in the comments – let’s make this list a baker’s dozen!