I love the holidays in the Bay Area for many reasons. I like that we don’t get any snow, but if I wanted, I could drive to Lake Tahoe in a few hours and be in a Winter Wonderland. It’s great to see all the lights in the neighborhood and to go ice-skating in Union Square. Most of all, I love that I get to spend time with my kids and my family.
Something else I really enjoy about the winter months–fresh ingredients at the farmer’s market that I can’t get other times of the year. Winter citruses like clementines are unbelievable this time of year, and carrots are outstanding! I can also find in-season persimmons, walnuts, radishes, watermelon, beets, and Marina di Chioggia (a sweet winter squash). I also can get great truffles from Europe for specialty items.
My ultimate favorite winter ingredient is Dungeness crab. After Nov. 15 you’ll find the freshest, most robust crabmeat. If you buy before then, the meat can become a little withered. Instead of cooking traditional dishes at home during the holidays, I’d rather create more interactive dishes like steamed crab that I can do with my family. My kids and I cover our table with newspaper and have fun breaking the crab with rocks–they love it!
A favorite crab dish I love to cook is “Poached Turbo, Sticky Rice, Dungeness Crab with a Condensed Milk Broth” I make it entirely from local crab, and serve it with a rice and carrot puree, which makes a really flavorful broth. I cook sticky rice (a yellow-orange rice with crab sauce and squash), then add a piece of cooked fish on top, and voila! This dish always makes me feel great, like when the Giants won the World Series!
For Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at The Dining Room, we offer a special six-course tasting menu featuring traditional foods in addition to some of the more lavish ingredients I find at the market (including
the crab!). I usually feature a beef dish, too, and of course, the menu includes dessert. For New Year’s Eve, we celebrate with a special seven-course tasting menu and feature a live band with dancing.
I look forward to providing you an exceptional experience at The Dining Room and wish everyone a wonderful holiday season.
Chef Ron Siegel
Click here for my special Persimmon and Crab Salad with Tarragon Gelée recipe