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Favorite Holiday Foods And Kitchen Aromas With Chef Gail

For me, bourbon is the smell of Christmas,” says Chef Gail of Palmilla’s Black Marlin restaurant, recalling her mother’s holiday foods, most notably her bourbon balls. The kitchen’s pervasive scent was bourbon, and it instantly brings back childhood memories of wonderful dinners at her grandparent’s homes in both Virginia and Michigan. When asked about her favorite holiday spice, Gail says “nutmeg” without hesitation and adds her favorite holiday beverage is without a doubt, eggnog.

Chef Vita tells us that for her, the smells she associates with holidays are cinnamon, nutmeg, and the fresh scent of pine trees.

Two all-time favorite holiday foods from Gail’s childhood that she still serves in the holiday season are candied sweet potatoes and corn pudding. The sweet potatoes of her childhood had molasses in them and were broiled until the topping was almost a brulée, and the corn pudding was redolent with custard and made a sweet side dish for a savory meal.

This holiday season, Gail will design a special Christmas menu for The Black Marlin, and it will be announced on the website and Facebook page, but for dessert the menu will definitely include Chef Vita’s white chocolate peppermint cheesecake the pièce de résistance of holiday confection. (And for those that didn’t know, Chef Vita just made the top ten and then finished fourth in the World Food Championships, Soup category!)

If your sweet tooth hasn’t already kicked in, this year Gail and Vita have a Christmas Cookie Gelato that has an almond vanilla base, chunks of actual cookie in it, and frosting on top. In case you aren’t salivating yet, Chef Gail’s seafood mac ‘n cheese has become a holiday tradition at The Black Marlin and will surely make an appearance as a side dish.

Chef Gail agreed to share some of her favorite recipes with us so you can create your own holiday dishes that may become family traditions in your household. So, from our queen of cuisine to yours may we present:

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