Bite into 2012: Feasting for your future fortune

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Ringing it in
Many of us like to welcome the New Year after a special meal on the town, but how do the people cooking our meals like to celebrate? Unsurprisingly, either quietly or the next day. After the mad buildup to the holidays or a long night in the kitchen, chefs are happy but tired.

The Chuck Norris, Godfather, and Clint Eastwood burgers at Timberwood Grill are the perfect antedote to your New Year hangover. (Photo by John Robinson)

Tomas Rahal of Mas Tapas says that his New Years’ Eves are “boring,” in a good way. He describes a chill celebration with staff and regulars: “I always try to toast it in with Cava and caviar…I welcome the intimacy.”

Chef/owners Sarah and Paul Diegl of Real Food in Orange celebrate family style: “At home we like to make a New Year’s brunch. We’re working on perfecting our croissant technique, so we’ll have them with homemade Meyer lemon jelly. Our children love poached eggs, so I’m sure they’ll be on the menu. And lots of good coffee.”

Chef-turned-Caromont goat cheese goddess Gail Hobbes-Page says, “As an ex-chef, I now love New Year’s Day because I don’t stay up late or burn the midnight oil, and I have the whole first day of the year to cook and celebrate. It’s so refreshing to wake up early on New Year’s Day and get our meal started. Plus, the goats don’t know it’s a holiday.” For this native of tiny Corapeake, North Carolina, the menu includes “black eyed peas and collards—and always oysters on the fire.” And, of course, cold bubbly chosen by husband and Hamiltons’ sommelier Daniel Page.—Meredith Barnes

The morning after
New Year’s Day brings hope, resolve, and in some cases a powerful hunger (and hangover) that only a hearty breakfast can fix. —Tami Keaveny

Kick off 2012 at Fellini’s #9 from 11am to 2pm with a three egg frittata jazzed up with spinach, mushroom, pancetta, or sausage. If you’re still resolved to keep your resolutions, ask for egg whites only and skip the pork. A Bloody Mary bar stocked with lots of hot sauce and veggies is there for the weak of mind.

Feeling tough? Take a swing at Timberwood Grill’s “baddest burgers on the planet”—the Chuck Norris, Godfather, and Clint Eastwood are all piled high with macho toppings. Or try the ironically named “Health Kick” (hash rounds, fried eggs, Andouille sausage gravy, cheddar, and jack cheeses) and put your diet off a week. Camp out from 10am to 2pm with the long beer list, football-playing TVs, and a family-friendly section.

Go whole hog from 11am to 3pm at Horse and Hound Gastropub with The Full English—two fried eggs, peppered bacon, Irish banger sausages, sautéed mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, baked beans, and toast. Or, go vegetarian (but no less indulgent) with the buttery fig & stilton blue cheese melt, which, thank goodness, comes with the irresistible French fries.
Wipe the stardust from your eyes from 10am to 3pm at Blue Moon Diner with the popular Huevos Bluemoonos featuring two eggs over hashbrowns topped with melted cheddar and house-made salsa. House-made granola with fresh fruit, honey, and yogurt is a responsible (yet delicious) alternative.

Feasting for future fortune
Every culture has its lucky foods and what better time to gobble down good fortune than the start of a brand new year. Even if luck evades you in 2012, your belly will feel fortunate for the night.—Megan Headley

Fish
Fish has always been a common alternative on holidays when the Catholic church forbids the consumption of red meat. In Japan, herring roe is eaten for fertility, shrimp for a long life, and dried sardines for a good harvest.

Legumes
Like coins that swell in size when cooked, legumes symbolize money. Down South, we eat black-eyed peas, a tradition that traces back to their fortunate discovery following a food shortage during the Civil War.

Grapes
Spanish New Year’s tradition is to eat 12 grapes at midnight—one for each chime on the clock. Each grape represents a different month, so taste carefully—February might taste rough, but July’s looking super sweet.

Greens
Cooked greens are a symbol for wealth all over the world simply because their leaves look like folded money. And the more you eat, the larger your fortune!

Pork
Because pigs root themselves in the ground before pushing forward, they symbolize progress (and bacon). In the U.S., pork’s high fat content signifies wealth and prosperity.

Oh, and try to avoid unlucky vittles like lobster (they walk backwards = setbacks!), chicken (they scratch backwards = regret!), and any winged fowl (they can fly away = so could your luck!).

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