This recipe for Scandanavian mulled wine, glogg (pronounced GLOOG), is adapted from the Market Cafe, where proprietress Fanny Farkas used to serve a number of holiday specialties from her native Sweden.

Alas, the Market Cafe is not serving glogg this season, since Fanny seems to be traveling, but it's simple to make yourself. (I like making it just so I can say the word "glogg" over and over again.) The only difficult part is finding the cardamom pods, which can be had at Dual Specialty Store on First Avenue between 5th and 6th Streets or at Adriana's Caravan in Grand Central Market.

Don't bother using expensive wine, since you're just going to corrupt it with sugar and vodka. If you can't get your hands on any cardamom pods, don't let that deter you: chances are no one will notice after a couple of glasses of glogg anyway.


20 cardamom pods
10 cloves
2 sticks cinnamon
1 orange peel
1 magnum-size bottle Shiraz or Rioja
2 cups vodka
1 pound sugar
1 1/2 cups whole raw almonds
1 1/2 cups raisins
10 dried figs

Make a bouquet garni of the cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and orange peel. Combine all ingredients in a heavy saucepan and bring to a temperature just below a boil.

Makes about 10 mugs of glogg.



The fabled Uniqlo has at last arrived. One of the biggest retailers in Japan, Uniqlo is basically Gap infused with Japanese panache. In the brand's cavernous global flagship store, I counted fourteen colors of the women's cashmere sweaters, lightweight with a price point to match. These come as crewnecks, v-necks, and turtlenecks, while other mixed-blend sweaters come in trendier styles - sweater dresses, belted sweaters, or open-knit tops.

Upstairs and downstairs you'll find lots of puffy winter jackets. The kids' selection is not so great, but the men's store is fantastic, especially if you're looking for gifts. It would be hard to go wrong here - there are tons of sweaters Dad would like, but also funkier zip-up fleece styles even a teenager wouldn't sneer at.

546 Broadway between Prince and Spring Streets

Burton NYC

Put Paragon aside for a minute and consider Burton NYC before you stock up for a winter trip. The store has a great array of fun and functional jackets, gloves, fleeces, hoodies, and socks for snowboarders and skiers alike. I walked out with some Fair Isle ski socks and this candy-cane-colored bonded fleece - "bonded" presumably refers to the surface of the jacket, which is sleek, not fuzzy - for $99.95.

They also sell luggage, racks and racks of Burton snowboards (duh), and cool goggles by Anon that would not be an embarrassment on the slopes.

Burton NYC
106 Spring Street at Mercer Street


Gin Lane

Have you ever walked into a place and felt it was doomed? Not because of any one particular flaw, but just because of an overwhelming aura of unease that seems to pervade the physical space. It's the kind of thing you would expect at a location that's changed hands several times in as many years, but oddly, 355 West 14th Street has only had one other tenant in recent memory: the Village Idiot. In that incarnation, the floors were covered with sawdust, and the only way you could make the harsh lighting forgiving and the barmaids attractive was to drink copious amounts of Pabst Blue Ribbon at $2 a can.

Gin Lane retains some of the meat market feel without any of the Village Idiot's self-mocking fun. The cavernous bar area (who knew it was so big!) has been stripped down to exposed red brick and hung with wrought-iron chandeliers. It's mercifully roomy and underoccupied compared to other bars in the area - and this might be reason alone to make a reservation for dinner at Gin Lane. Unfortunately, the food would not be. The intentions here are good - to create a clubby sort of old-school place where you might have found the Rat Pack - but the execution lags. At times the fare reminds me not of clubby food, but club food, i.e., country club food. You're liable to see one ingredient in several incarnations on both sides of the menu, from appetizers to entrees. For instance, tuna tartare becomes tuna steak tartare becomes grilled tuna tenderloin, all on the menu one night as various standard items and specials.

I order the ingredient I like least - some head-on prawns that turn out to be stinky - twice in one meal in a tragic twist of fate. First in the seafood platter, where the plain shrimp is good, the oysters limp and not particularly flavorful, and the clams just plain funny-tasting. Then the prawns pretty much ruin the surf and turf. How can an entire plate taste of stinky prawns? I suspect that the kitchen left the whole thing covered under a heat lamp for a while until the prawn smell infiltrated even the lumpy mashed potatoes. The steak - another raison d'etre at Gin Lane - is cooked as I ordered it, but is nevertheless dull.

An inoffensive "girl food" item, the tuna tartare is basically an avocado tuna roll without the rice. (I doubt Dean Martin's date would have been aware of such a dish.) But the iceberg wedge with apple-smoked bacon and blue cheese dressing nearly saves the day. This is one dish that really does take me back the way it's meant to, back to a swanky steak house of at least 1980s pedigree. The lettuce is perfectly cold and crisp and a nice foil to the blue cheese dressing, which tastes worlds better when made fresh. The fact that the bacon is apple-smoked is noticeable in the overall taste of the dish and presents a conscientious touch you wish the kitchen brought to more of the menu.

My friend and I are at a a loss when we finish our meal. If we venture out into the meatpacking night, we will be swept away by hordes of revelers. So we stay for a nightcap. Though the mixologist here is touted as amazing in the press materials, the couple of expensive cocktails we sample are so sweet I am probably affected more by a sugar high than by the alcohol. As the night progresses, the bar gets more crowded and elbows start to fly, and one of the sticky-sweet drinks goes right down my shirt, a mishap that would have been to much easier to bear were it a $2 Pabst Blue Ribbon. We take that as a signal to leave Gin Lane to the tourists, who seem to have a much higher tolerance for faux-old new New York than those of us who remember the real thing.

Gin Lane
355 West 14th Street, between Eighth and Ninth Avenues


Gram's Ginger Cookies

For the holidays, an old recipe - my grandmother's. Not quite gingerbread, not quite ginger snaps, these cookies are ultra thin, crisp and addictive. She used to make them out of the bridge-party heart, club, diamond, and spade cookie cutters even at Christmas, but if this mystifies you as it does me, use a traditional gingerbread man cookie cutter.

The molasses give these an especially old-fashioned taste. I've seen no evidence of Brer Rabbit molasses around NYC, but other brands will do just as well.

Gram's Ginger Cookies

1 cup Brer Rabbit Molasses
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup melted unsalted butter
1 egg, beaten
pinch of baking soda
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons ginger
4 - 4 1/2 cups flour, plus more for dusting

Beat molasses until light, then beat in sugar, butter, egg, and dry ingredients. Add just enough flour to roll. Refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Dust a rolling pin and pastry cloth with plenty of flour and start to roll out a ball of dough. When it flattens into a good sized disc, pick it up and swish the underside in more flour from the pastry cloth, then move it back to center. Roll until extremely thin and cut with cookie cutters.

Bake each batch for just under 6 minutes, until the cookie edges just begin to brown. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.


Butler, Maryland - A Fox Hunt

Riding clothes and country chic on a cold, drizzly Thanksgiving Day.



Just the idea of Mexican food can bring out the worst in New York diners and restaurant owners alike: the former tend to be more interested in a tequila-fueled good time than what's on the plate, and the latter have been known to pack 'em in and overcharge 'em, unless, of course, they're keeping out the hordes with an aggressive bouncer and a velvet rope.

Not so with the low-key Papatzul, just opened on Grand Street in SoHo, in the space that housed La Jumelle. The beautiful old oak bar is still there, and behind it is a bartender so friendly that we decide to have our entire meal perched in front of him. The dining room doesn't seem very warm, somehow, and there we might be serenaded by the band, the members of which inform one of us, in Spanish, that they are decidedly not a mariachi band, but a serious group of performers. This distinction is one Papatzul itself faces, and at times, it teeters on the border: fun and slightly campy vs. serious Mexican.

People like to judge Mexican restaurants by their guacamole and margaritas. To be honest, I don't think there's that much difference, in such simple concoctions, between good guacamoles/margaritas made with fresh ingredients, except that each has its own style. Papatzul's guacamole is bright and citrusy, flecked with dark green minced chili peppers when ordered medium spicy. The margaritas have the bite of fresh lime without too much sugar. The menu is limited, but many of the items on it are lighter, authentic Mexican fare. In the ensalada palmito, each element shines - the briny pickled hearts of palm hit just the right note against the sweet slices of pear. The chilapitas de camarones - tortilla cups of shrimp, mango and jicama - have the same bright citrus punch of the guacamole but are too simplistic to be particularly interesting. The thick tomato sopa de tortilla could use some more spice too. We allow ourselves a tortilla pie - guilty filler Mexican food, basically, but very satisfying and tasty all the same.

A friend who has spent a lot of time in Mexico steers us toward the chile poblano relleno de calabza alamendras, a poblano chili stuffed with butternut squash and served over a sauce of tomato, currants and almonds. It's very authentic, she says, and perfect for November, when chilies are at their best. I don't know much about the seasonality of chilies, but the combination of the smoky, spicy baked chili and sweet butternut squash has a certain mystery that seems quintessentially Mexican. Just as, with a good mole, you wonder how any one thing can be chocolately but not at all sweet, earthy yet burningly spicy all at the same time, the chile poblano tastes much more complex than it can possibly be without any added spices, and yet there don't seem to be any spices added. The paradox strikes me at levels both sensual and cerebral, but if you asked anyone more familiar with the territory of Mexican cuisine, they would tell you that Papatzul's food tastes decidedly homey.

55 Grand Street, between West Broadway and Wooster Street


...vs. Columbia

The anxiety of influence must be tough to bear at Columbia and Barnard - especially when it comes to fashion. Fuddy-duddy wool blazers of the sort Michael Caine wore in Woody Allen flicks are still a popular choice, and Marc Jacobs has cinched the popularity of the Ali McGraw-esque knit hats this season. Students wore shorts and flip flops even on a cold day, Converse All-Stars (still), plaid pants, jewel tones, Euro sport zip-up jackets, and - dare I say it? - sheer black stockings. Worn with boots, they can actually look chic.