There is nothing more traditional than the food and drink one has at special occasions, places or certain times of year. Religiously, fish is synonymous with Fridays during Lent, matzoh is a staple of Passover and one can be seen eating dates nightly during Ramadan. Culturally, there is usually turkey at a Thanksgiving feast and regionally, you expect some good collard greens if you travel down south.
As we approach the end of the year, the holiday spirit fills the air and food and drink once again play a primary role. Do you yearn for a slice of fruitcake? Bear the cold for a special brew? We asked Princeton Perspectives readers to let us know if there are traditional treats they look forward to this time of year, and 84% told us there are.
While the Princeton area is home to some amazing bakeries, 56% of our readers prefer to bake their own holiday treats. After all, there is something to be said for the aromas lingering from the oven, and the joy of knowing that your creation brings smiles to your loved ones.
If baking isn’t your thing, do not fret. There are nearly a dozen bakeries just in Princeton alone and the expert eaters amongst us have recommendations for you from all over the nearby areas!
Chez Alice, in downtown Princeton, is mentioned for its macaroons and other baked treats. Lillipies and Delizioso Bakery are also top Princeton spots. In Hamilton, Lilla Vanilla’s great staff is recognized for their beautiful designs and decorating, and Eet Gud Bakery is known to be good and fresh. Cramer’s in Yardley and Princeton’s Dunkin Donuts are apparently the places to go for sufganyot (jelly doughnuts) but if you want other delicious holiday treats you can also try favorites like The Little Chef Pastry Shop, Maddalena’s and Dolce & Celmente’s. Developing a personal relationship with your local baker can also make a difference, as it can almost feel like a relative has done the baking for you.
“The owner, Karen, (of Sweet Gourmet in Princeton North Shopping Center, State Highway 206) began making Challah after someone asked her if she ever made it and she said she’d try. She now makes and sells delicious fresh baked challah every Friday. I love that she’s open to trying shopper’s suggestions,” one reader shared.
“Anything from local baker extraordinaire Holley Barreto and her Sugar Street Bakehouse any time of year, but especially the seasonally appropriate cinnamon sugar donut muffins. They are my favorite food in the world,” expressed another.
If your mouth isn’t watering yet, keep reading. We have given you a taste, but there are more details to share about what people enjoy. Turns out, Princeton Perspectives’ readers are split when it comes to what treats top the list this time of year – 38% go for fruitcake (traditional for Christmas) while another 38% prefer sufganyot (traditional for Chanukah). Pie, something enjoyed by all, is a favorite for another 21% and the remainder enjoy a variety of holiday cookies!
You can enjoy the food alone, but wintertime and the holidays often call for a nice hot drink. It is not surprising that 54% go for a hot chocolate. 21% of our respondents told us that egg nog is their pick, a treat many savor at the holidays. If your hot drink of choice is a hot toddy or mulled red wine, you are not alone. Those warm the bodies of 7% and 3% of our readers, respectively.
But where do they go for these warm drinks? Some prefer area locations of Maman, Wegmans, Wawa, Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts. Local spots the bent spoon and Small World Coffee also received multiple mentions. Of course, there’s those who prefer to make it themselves at home and for some, it doesn’t quite matter.
“Anywhere when I’m out and it’s chilly,” a reader explained. Another shared, “Hot chocolate is delicious no matter where it’s from, although my kids say it’s even better than usual from the bent spoon (I’ve never personally tried it from there).”
If you want to be able to treat your holiday guests to a nice warm drink, you can shop at Joe Canal’s or other local liquor stores to gather the ingredients for a hot toddy and mulled wine, or load everyone in the car for a road trip to try one of the recommended local spots.
Holiday baking also requires some planning, so that you can be sure to either have the ingredients on hand or your order is into your baker in time to get it prepared.
However, and wherever you enjoy your food and drink, we hope that it’s surrounded by love and brings you joy!
Lisa Jacknow spent years working in national and local news in and around New York City before moving to Princeton. Working as both a TV producer and news reporter, Lisa came to this area to focus on the local news of Mercer County at WZBN-TV. In recent years, she got immersed in the Princeton community by serving leadership roles at local schools in addition to volunteering for other local non-profits. In her free time, Lisa loves to spend time with her family, play tennis, sing and play the piano. A graduate of the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, Lisa was raised just north of Boston, Massachusetts but has lived in the tri-state area since college. She is excited to be Editor and head writer for Princeton Perspectives!