Start Your #PlantForward Year on NYE at Matthew Kenney’s Plant Food + Wine

Plant Food + Wine

Los Angelenos! The new year is almost here, and as we get through the anything-goes eating of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, it’s time to get back to eating clean. But why wait until January 1? Get a jump start on your resolution to embrace a plant-based, sustainable diet on New Year’s Eve at Matthew Kenney’s Plant Food + Wine.

The elegant Los Angeles hot spot that pleases omnivores and vegans alike, Plant Food + Wine has a sublime and satisfyingly delicious evening planned. A decadent, refreshing tasting menu highlights fresh, seasonal vegetables alongside soulful ingredients such as kabocha squash and wild mushrooms and features six courses and, of course, bubbles for just $55 per person.

Plant Food + Wine

Dishes include Buckwheat Blini with Almond Cream and Hijiki “Caviar”; Spaghetti Squash with Beech Mushroom and Apple-Black Pepper Brodo; Winter Citrus with Baby Beets, Herb Stems, and Santa Barbara Pistachio Butter; Kabocha Squash; Pear; Candied Pumpkin + Mustard Seed; Wild Mushroom “Lasagna” with Smoked Almond Ricotta, and Sunchoke Puree; Cava-Poached Asian Pear, with Wheatgrass Granita and Sorrel Gelato, and Chocolate Bon Bons + Truffles. There is an optional Braised Celery Root with Black Truffle and Pumpernickel for $35 to raise the luxe-meter, and a $20 cheese plate (and, cheese lovers, if you’ve not had their housemade nut cheese, you are missing out — yes, even you dairy eaters). Accompany it all with modestly priced organic and biodynamic wine pairings for just $24.

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Too Cool: 10 Peppermint Desserts to Pep Up Your Holiday

Move over pumpkin spice, peppermint is having a moment. Even though the weather may not indicate it just yet, winter is coming, and as fall wanes, we say goodbye to the familiar tastes of the season. While we’ll miss creamy butternut squash soups, hot apple cider donuts, and pumpkin…everything, their departure makes way for all the festive flavors of the colder months. Popping up on menus once again are cranberry, gingerbread, eggnog, and — perhaps winter’s most iconic flavor — peppermint. Peppermint evokes a sense of nostalgia for holiday traditions — trimming the tree to Christmas tunes, wrapping presents by a fragrant fire, and our favorite, sitting down to a deliciously restorative meal in the midst of the holiday madness. Book a table and order one of these invigoratingly delicious peppermint desserts. From the beloved classics to the distinctly imaginative, each one will put you in the holiday spirit.

Péché, Austin, Texas
Péché translates to “sin” in French, and while you could opt for a lighter dish like Kale and Roasted Vegetable salad, why not let the restaurant live up to its name by indulging in sinfully rich Housemade Pappardelle with Texas Wild Boar or a Braised Short Ribs with Duck Fat Mashed Potatoes? Either way, save room for pastry chef Yolanda Diaz’s impressive Bûche de Noël. Made from scratch, her traditional French dessert is a Swiss chocolate roll plated with peppermint bark, (almost) too-adorable-to-eat mushroom meringues, chocolate soil, and a scoop of housemade chocolate chip peppermint ice cream. It would be a sin not to order this heavenly dessert.

Peppermint Desserts

Siena Tavern, Chicago, Illinois
Gelato in the winter doesn’t sound crazy when it’s of the Peppermint Brownie variety. Fabio Viviani’s urbane Italian eatery, which features housemade pastas, crispy pizzas, and a mozzarella bar, offers the seasonally apropos dessert this December. The brainchild of Siena Tavern’s pastry chef Amy Arnold, crushed candy canes, Rumplemintz, and double chocolate brownie bites are swirled into a peppermint gelato base for a bracing brownie sundae in a scoop. Order a post-pizza dish, or opt for a flight of three, paired with cannoli and pumpkin pecan flavors.

Peppermint Desserts

10 Arts Bistro, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Enjoy the flavor of the season in one (or more!) of many forms at the Ritz Carlton’s predictably elegant restaurant. For a whimsical treat, Hot Chocolate service is on offer with enhancements such as marshmallows and crushed candy canes. Add a “cookie jar” for a sample of assorted holiday cookies, including pastry chef Stephen Wilson’s handmade peppermint meringues. Wilson is also whipping up Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream and Yule Logs for their festive holiday brunch, starting at 11AM on Christmas Day.

Peppermint Desserts

Presidio Social Club, San Francisco, California
Comfort foods have a place at the table any time of the year, but herb-roasted chicken, mac and cheese, and meatloaf at this San Francisco “club without the dues” are particularly perfect on winter’s dark, chilly evenings. The comforting options extend to bar director Maureen Donegan’s Hot Cocktail List, featuring warming quaffs like Hot Buttered Rum, Caffè Sambuca, or — for a true dose of holiday spirit — a Hot Mint Chocolate. Mixed with housemade hot cocoa and Bracamenta then topped with fresh whipped cream, this boozy version of a childhood favorite will inject the meal with a little extra good cheer. (If you prefer your dessert in cake form, order one of pastry chef Rene Cruz’s Chocolate Peppermint Cakes to go. The only downside is that you’ll probably be expected to share.)

Peppermint Desserts

Bestia, Los Angeles, California
Genevieve Gergis is one half of the husband and wife team behind LA’s Bestia. (Her husband, chef Ori Menashe, dishes out rustic Italian fare in the form of house-cured charcuterie and made-from-scratch pizza and pasta.) A self-taught pastry chef, Gergis’s own sweet tooth inspired her to learn to bake, and the fruits (and cakes, chocolates, and donuts!) of her labor are showcased with desserts like Pink Lady Apple & Candied Quince Crostata and Chocolate Budino Tart. This season, sample her handiwork and bring a touch of holiday whimsy to the table with the housemade Candy Cane Ice Cream with a “Cinna’man” and Whole Wheat Butter Cookie.

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Hau’oli Lanui: 7 Top Hawaii Restaurants to Dine at During Winter Break

There’s no reason every meal shouldn’t be outstanding during your winter getaway to the Hawaiian Islands. In recent years, Hawaii’s food scene has mushroomed. Local chefs are continually inspired by the Island’s diverse ethnic cooking styles and rich cultural history, and it shows in their menus. Even better, restaurants are cultivating stronger bonds with the Islands’ farmers, ranchers, and fishers to source local ingredients.

If you’re headed to the Aloha State for winter break, we’ve rounded up seven top Hawaii restaurants worth visiting, from Mud Hen Water, the east Honolulu neighborhood gem serving up eclectic Hawaiian fusion dishes and Italian comfort foods at Mi’s Italian Bistro in Kealakekua on Hawaii Island to fulfilling all your noodles cravings at Star Noodle in Lahaina, Maui.

MW Restaurant, Honolulu, Oahu
A lunch or dinner at MW Restaurant, just off Kapiolani Boulevard in downtown Honolulu, is a culinary triumph from start to finish. The Hawaii Regional Cuisine menu boasts dishes from locally sourced product from husband and wife team Michelle Karr Ueoka and Wade Ueoka—the “M” and “W”, respectively. The pair is renowned for inventive dishes inspired by Hawaii’s culinary history. This is polished, local comfort food. Plus, pastry chef Karr Ueoka was nominated as a 2015 James Beard Outstanding Pastry Chef semifinalist and was nominated last year—as was MW for best new restaurant.) Order the ahi poke appetizer, served with uni, ikura, and crispy rice crackers followed by the mochi-crusted opakapaka, served on a bed of somen noodles. Be sure to save room for dessert! There’s the MW Candy Bar, crunch with macadamia nut praline, or the Tropical Fruit Creamsicle Brulée made with lilikoi sorbet and custard, tapioca pearls, tropical fruits, and guava chiffon. You’ll never be so happy you didn’t skip the sweets

Top Hawaii Restaurants

Mi’s Italian Bistro, Kealakekua, Hawaii Island
If you’re looking to shake up your dinner routine during your holiday on Hawaii Island, head to Mi’s Italian Bistro in the quaint town of Kealakekua, along the Big Island’s south Kona coast. The bistro is tucked in a small shopping area, but the restaurant is welcoming with its homey decor and tables with red and maroon linens.

Chef Morgan Star started Mi’s Italian Bistro with his wife Ingrid Chan. The eatery sources from local farmers, as well as Big Island cattle ranchers. But it’s perhaps best known for it’s freshly made pasta, and it’s no wonder some of its most popular dishes are the spaghetti Bolognese made with Big Island beef or the gnocchi topped with porcini-crusted pork tenderloin.

Top Hawaii Restaurants

Merriman’s Waimea,Waimea, Hawaii Island
Chef Peter Merriman’s namesake restaurant in Waimea has become synonymous for a quality, fresh Big Island dining experience. Merriman, a Hawaii Regional Cuisine chef, is known for cultivating farm-to-table menus by working directly with Hawaii’s growers, ranchers, and fishers – and his efforts are evident in his fare. For example, the butcher’s cut of Kahua Ranch lamb is incredibly tender and comes with a side of rainbow chard, jalapeño whipped potatoes, and Maui onion-mint chimichurri. Another Merriman’s favorite is the steak, sourced from Hawaii’s Lowline Cattle Company and served with potatoes, grilled Waimea asparagus, and churned Waimea herb butter. Still not convinced? The restaurant is known for its top-notch service.

Top Hawaii Restaurants

JO2 Restaurant, Kapaa, Kauai
Fall in love with Kauai’s fresh produce and its fresh fish with a meal at JO2 Restaurant in Kapaa on the east side of Kauai. Don’t let JO2’s shopping-center location throw you — you’re in for an ultra-fine dining experience at this modern restaurant. Chef Jean-Marie Josselin French heritage comes through in each dish, as well as his love for Hawaii’s melting pot of culinary traditions and inspirations. (Josselin is one of the original chefs that spearheaded the Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement, and has been nominated for the James Beard Foundation Award six times.)

Kick things off with JO2’s seared Korean short rib, under which is nestled a Vietnamese crepe with organic tomatoes. Then tuck into lemongrass sesame-crusted mahi-mahi with Thai coconut curry basil sauce or the roasted Hawaiian butterfish miso with sake and cilantro.

Top Hawaii Restaurants

Star Noodle, Lahaina, Maui
If you’re craving noodles — saimin, ramen, udon — look no further than Star Noodle. This small restaurant, which opened in the Lahaina Business Park (aka the Lahaina Light Industrial) is known for housemade noodles. The menu also features creative Asian-inspired small plates, such as the miso salmon, chicken yakitori, and steamed pork buns. (The restaurant was also the former home of Maui celebrity chef Sheldon Simeon, who competed and won fan favorite by viewers during season 10 of Bravo’s “Top Chef;” Simeon was the executive chef.)

The noodle joint is fitted with a communal table in its center, surrounded by smaller tables around the perimeter, as well as bar seating. Make reservations ahead of time, or go for lunch; wait times for tables can be long. In addition to its noodle dishes, the Lahaina fried soup (fat chow fun, pork, and bean sprouts), the garlic noodles, and the steamed pork buns are must-orders. Star Noodle also has a solid cocktail list sure to satisfy mixology fans.

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7 Delicious Pacific Northwest Restaurant Holiday Events

The holidays are a special and hectic time of year. When you’re ready for a break from feeling frenzied, check out one of these seven Pacific Northwest restaurant holiday events. From special Christmas-themed meals to book readings and nutcracker parades, each offers something that will take your mood from frantic to festive. All of these events sell out quickly, so make your reservations early.

Pretend you’re in Italy with the Feast of Seven Fishes
In many parts of Italy, Christmas Eve is synonymous with the Feast of Seven Fishes. During this extravagant holiday meal, families serve as many as 13 fish-centric dishes to their friends and family. Get a scaled-down version of this experience at Seattle’s Agrodolce. Every Christmas Eve, they offer three-, five- and seven-course meals chock full of fresh Pacific Northwest seafood. Start with a bread and crab appetizer, move on to a hearty fish stew, and finish with a light dessert (which, in case you’re wondering, does not include anything harvested from the sea).

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Brunch with Santa and the nutcrackers
The Nutcracker ballet is a Christmas tradition for many families. But Salty’s on Alki Beach in Seattle (as well as Salty’s on Redondo Beach in Des Moines and Salty’s on the Columbia in Portland) allows you to get up close and personal with these holiday favorites. During special brunches every weekend in December, Salty’s restaurants display their extensive collection of seven-foot-tall nutcrackers around each dining rooms. Santa is on hand to take Christmas lists and photos, and extravagant holiday light displays give the entire space a festive air.

Celebrate the holidays Celtic-style
For the last 20+ years, Café Soriah in Eugene has hosted an annual Celtic Holiday event. Matinee or evening shows start with Welsh, Scottish, English and Irish songs performed by two local musicians. For their finale, a Welsh chimney sweep who now resides in Eugene reads the book A Child’s Christmas in Wales. He even wears his traditional top hat for many performances. Café Soriah typically hosts eight performances of their Celtic Holiday celebration in the week leading up to Christmas.

An advent calendar for adults
When I was a kid, I loved those advent calendars with chocolate hidden behind every door. As a grown-up, the beer advent calendar from Bell + Whete in Seattle seems slightly more appealing. This restaurant is brewing up 12 holiday-themed beers and releasing them one by one through December 24. To help drinkers identify when each keg will be tapped and which ones they haven’t tried, Bell + Whete has put together an advent calendar that doubles as a punch card. Sample every beer and you can enter to win dinner for two at their first-class restaurant.

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