Strategic Eating Tips For The Holidays When it comes to that holiday buffet, you want to make sure not to overdo it -- but also not to miss out on the good stuff. Serious eaters need a strategy. NPR's Dina Temple-Raston recently went to New York's annual Taste event, and she went with her game face on.
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Strategic Eating Tips For The Holidays

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Strategic Eating Tips For The Holidays

Strategic Eating Tips For The Holidays

Strategic Eating Tips For The Holidays

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When it comes to that holiday buffet, you want to make sure not to overdo it — but also not to miss out on the good stuff. Serious eaters need a strategy. NPR's Dina Temple-Raston recently went to New York's annual Taste event, and she went with her game face on.

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

As NPR's Dina Temple-Raston reports, to accomplish all that, you have to develop a strategy. She recently attended the Cadillac of gourmet buffets, an annual gathering called The Taste of New York, and she came away with some tips.

DINA TEMPLE: (Soundbite of crowd and music)

TEMPLE: This is where literally hundreds of people throw elbows to get a fresh scallop or a marinated beef cheek prepared by one of New York's most famous chefs.

TEMPLE: Hi, I'm Anita Lo, the chef and owner of Anissa Restaurant in the West Village.

TEMPLE: (Soundbite of show, "Top Chef Masters")

U: Previously on "Top Chef Masters."

U: I'm going to cry myself a river, I'll be here.

U: What are you, a wimp?

U: I'm a little bit of a wimp.

U: (Soundbite of applause)

TEMPLE: (Soundbite of laughter)

TEMPLE: Yes, I was eliminated from "Top Chef Masters" on the buffet.

TEMPLE: (Soundbite of laughter)

TEMPLE: To make the most of this monster buffet, you need to literally establish a mental map of what's available, and then you follow it.

TEMPLE: There's a lot of pork out there. There are a lot of meatballs.

TEMPLE: That's Gillian Duffy, the food editor at New York Magazine. She provides some inside intelligence.

TEMPLE: One year I remember the editor-in-chief came, he said, there's a lot of octopus here this year. And there were about eight restaurants doing octopus. We're through the octopus stage, and now we've got more sliders and things like that, I think.

TEMPLE: Check, locate the sliders. Sometimes you get lucky, and in the very next booth or the very next holiday buffet tray sits something you were hoping to eat anyway. In my case, right next to the lamb sliders was Manhattan's new queen of chicken.

TEMPLE: I'm Elizabeth Karmel. I'm the executive chef of Hill Country Chicken. And I'm thrilled to be talking with you today and trying to dispel your feelings that chicken is boring.

TEMPLE: Hill Country Chicken is the newest in the latest trend in Manhattan - single food restaurants. These are places that only serve meatballs or pork loin sandwiches or in this case, fried chicken. Karmel describes her dish.

TEMPLE: Well, actually, what we're serving here tonight, the Texas hand roll, sums up a lot of what I cook in one bite at Hill Country Chicken. It's crispy fried chicken, it's creamy coleslaw, it's house-made hot pepper jelly and a little bit of sesame seed and sliced almonds are there for a little crunch. I say, you know, here's a little bit of South in your mouth.

TEMPLE: At a food tasting, the best candidate for weirdest thing is usually described this way.

TEMPLE: You have to go and look at it because it is so startling and beautiful.

TEMPLE: Are you the chef? So can you describe this dish for me?

U: Sure, it's a pickled egg. It's picked in, you know, beet pickling liquid. And then we make a mousse with the yolk with smoked whitefish, creme fraiche, and horseradish. So the pickling changes the texture of the white, but then the yolk will keep it rich and creamy.

TEMPLE: Dina Temple-Raston, NPR News, New York.

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