Christmas Eve & Christmas in the Boston area

I thought it might be fun and useful to run down everyone’s food plans for the coming holiday week. We’ll be up in Maine skiing on Christmas Eve (probably stopping for lunch in Portland the day before on our way up- maybe Empire Chinese) but returning to Somerville Christmas day and looking for something casual to eat for dinner.

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We usually do Christmas and its Eve either all in NY or all in Cambridge.

Either way, in Cambridge we put up a real tree. In NYC, where we spend less time, we put up a modern “tree” made of concentric, expanding rings of clear green acrylic, hung with crystals and translucent, pearly plastic disks, and illuminated by a spotlight from below shining on a small disco ball above. Its kitschy, but better than it sounds.

This year we are experimenting with a crazy hybrid. We will do the usual, sprawling, fish-based Christmas Eve with my wife’s family in NY, then catch the last flight out of JFK, arriving in Boston in the early minutes of Christmas Day. We hope to spend Christmas in Cambridge, with dinner in Chinatown if possible (we have not found it easy to get into places in the past at peak times). If we’re cooking a Christmas meal for ourselves our go-to formula is local cheeses (from Jasper Hill and Cato Corner), followed by manicotti (my wife makes the thin pancake shells individually on a griddle), then a lamb biryani, followed by fruitcake and icecream. We like to hit all our cultural connections.


Christmas Eve in Quincy there will be 10 of us at our house where my wife always makes her fabulous baked stuffed colossal shrimp. Lots of apps. Pasta course and salad and many accouterments. Will break out my last bottle of Caymus 40 Cab. Deserts will be pie and homemade Italian Christmas cookies with coffee and black sambuca.

Christmas day my daughter will host lunch starting apps. Then pasta, meatballs, sausages and pork. Next course is glazed ham with veggies and ending with a salad. Deserts will be pies and cookies. Prosecco and wine for adult beverages.
Enjoy, and Happy Holidays To All Hungry Onions,


Five of us usually do Christmas Eve. at Teatro on Boston Common, but this year, sadly, they are closed because it falls on a Monday. Instead, we are heading to the new Alcove on the recently revitalized Lovejoy Wharf near the Garden. I’ll report back. We’ll have to head over to the Common/Garden to take in the lights, weather-permitting.


We’ll be in Miami Beach for the holidays this year (my brother who lives in South Beach is hosting), but we’ve had a bit of a tradition of attending the Nutcracker on Christmas Eve and dining at Yvonne’s. It’s not always open on Christmas Eve, but when it is, Yvonne’s is particularly festive.


Such great ideas! My husband and I need to land on new traditions for ourselves, after traveling out of state for Christmas the whole of our married lives.

I’m leaning toward a no-fuss Christmas Eve dinner of an indulgent cheese tray and a green salad. Likely we’ll get our goods from Mill City Cheesemongers in Lowell if we settle on that.

And for Christmas, something roasted so as to keep the dog (and us) blissed out on aromas for the afternoon. Roast pork loin maybe? Still mulling over options, so I can easily be swayed. More enjoyment, less prep are my thoughts.


And my prep for my future is more enjoyment, less thought.

(I still remember a bewildered student from two – OK, you beat it out of me, three – decades ago saying “You mean they pay you just to think?”)


Please report back. We came >this< close to going last week for lunch but worried about finding something that spring onion would eat. Menu is quite appealing.


No reason you can’t indulge and not work yourself to the bone. I’d add a nice bread with the cheese plate and salad, maybe some sliced pear, quince paste, and marcona almonds for good measure. And a decadent wine (or two!).

Have you been following the twelve days of cheese at Whole Foods? 50% off one cheese per day. Scored a large hunk of Humbolt Fog yesterday.

Happy Holidays!


Tell us about the stuffed shrimp! Trying to decide what to open Chrstmas Eve - thinking a vertical of Ridge Zin…

(although Zin might be too much for the crown roast of pork my brother-in-law is serving)

That 12 days of cheese at WF is a great reason to go to WF.

My wife’s baked stuffed shrimp is stuffed with a combination of Ritz crackers, Progresso Italian bread crumbs, chopped mushrooms and onions. Olive oil, lemon juice and a small amount of margarine. No butter! I never order them out as hers are the very best and very moist. My mouth is watering now!

For me a zin goes with almost everything. Had one with our Thanksgiving turkey. Worked perfectly.
Enjoy The Holidays,


Eating in many old favorites on our trip back to San Diego and Los Angeles, e.g. Gjelina, Animal, Osteria Mozza, Juniper & Ivy, Cucina Basilico etc

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not totally sure yet. we usually lay low on Xmas eve, and some Chili Garden takeout seems likely as I’m now in Medford. Also no real plans for Xmas day–I’m toying with the idea of just hopping the red line into Chinatown and seeing what’s open…


My experience is that everything is open and everything is crowded. One year we went from restaurant to restaurant to find two-hour waits, or “sorry, not adding to waiting list”, till, finally, faint with hunger we had to eat a truly awful meal at Hei La Moon. (Their dimsum is fine, but their food that night was awful.) Some places take reservations that night, I was told, and I’d suggest you plan ahead and try to snag one.

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thanks. I’m actually thinking that if I do this, I’ll go down early in the day for a late breakfast/early lunch sort of thing. I’m an early riser, I’ve got no kids and don’t do presents, so I figure that I can probably beat any crowds. If it’s still hellacious, I’ll just survive on a Mei Sum banh mi and a Great Taste egg tart or some such thing.


Not in Chinatown, but Dumpling House in Cambridge is open on Christmas and they take reservations.


Thanks for this tip! Cheese plate time got moved up to last night because friends invited us over to share cheer. Time ran short and I could not make it to the cheesemonger I favor.

The local Whole Foods came to the rescue, and I was pleasantly surprised to see sale prices on more than one fancy cheese. Help from the cheese department staff person was cordial and she even pointed me to one choice I would have dismissed, a Brie made from grass-fed cow’s milk. I did not expect to be a fan (Brie’s not my thing) though was won over by that selection.

Happy Holidays!


There is plenty I don’t love about Whole Foods, but the cheese department (staff & product) at our local store (River Street, Cambridge) is surprisingly excellent.