Taking (making?) stock on New Year’s Eve

It’s New Year’s Eve, which means it’s the night I throw a posh dinner party and serve French onion soup. We’re talking the from-scratch kind, that starts with good beef stock. Now I should tell you, making homemade beef stock is not for those who are looking for the short cut in life. You have … Read more

Christmas Bells

Wrote and published this in 2009. It still cracks me up. When buying Christmas candy this year, I included a personal favorite of mine, those little bell-shaped chocolates with slivers of Butterfingers mixed in. They’re so festive and seductive in their gold, red and green foil wrappings, I couldn’t resist sampling one (okay, two) before … Read more

San Francisco Ballet time again!

Watching the San Francisco Ballet perform Nutcracker is a big deal for two reasons. First, because the company does a bang-up, never-seen-it-done-better job on the production. Second, it gives SFB patrons a chance to see what the company is shaping up to look like for their upcoming winter/spring repertoire season. Rosters change, dancers come and … Read more

How the violin un-stole Christmas

(This essay originally appeared in the L.A. Daily News on 12/11/2005) December, the “season of cheer,” never fails to evoke ambivalent feelings in me. Yes, there are the twinkling lights and ringing of bells; crimson and gold decorations adorning shops; the intoxicating whiffs of Christmas wreaths and kitchens redolent of freshly-baked cookies. But December is … Read more

Nutcracker: Tis the Season

NUT·CRACK·ER ˈnətˌkrakər/ Noun A small aluminum device for cracking nuts. A little painted wooden soldier with a dislocating jaw that performs aforementioned task. An 1892 ballet originally choreographed by Marius Petipa (and Lev Ivanov), first performed in the U.S. by the San Francisco Ballet on Christmas Eve in 1944, now a holiday tradition throughout the … Read more