Best Food Holidays, National Holidays, Entertainment & Sporting Events To Celebrate in January
The calendar always tells us about the regular holidays – observed holidays in January include New Year’s Day and Martin Luther King Jr Day. But what about all these fun food holidays you hear about on social media? There seems to be a day designated for just about any kind of food you can think of – from Bloody Marys (January 1st) to hot chocolate (January 31).
Who comes up with these holidays and are they really official? Most are typically decreed by local government, others all the way up to the president! They are, more often than not, invented by clever marketing agencies. Food holidays are commonly used for promotional purposes, although others are created for charity, like National Doughnut Day was created by the Salvation Army. I truly don’t care that they are a marketing ploy of sorts – I think they offer a fun way to share food with friends. And that, is what is most important. I don’t need a reason to have a party but one of these holidays is sure to provide inspiration for a fun outing to check out a new restaurant or party at home, don’t you think?
If you’ve been telling friends that you promise you’ll get together more often this year, then pick a date, decide on a place and go Make Someday Happen!
Where To Celebrate Food Holidays and Other Fun Events In Orlando?
Since I’m in Orlando, I will offer some ideas where to celebrate in Central Florida. I hope this list will give you inspiration to find similar places in your hometown.
The Month of January has several month-long celebrations to choose from:
National Hot Tea Month
How about celebrating National Hot Tea Month by hosting a tea party at home or making a reservation at one of the luxury afternoon tea experiences? Local Orlando resorts like Disney’s Grand Floridian, Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes and Waldorf Astoria Orlando provide the perfect setting for an afternoon of chatting and sharing great bites. Here’s an article I wrote for Orlando Sentinel’s Signature Magazine which should inspire a special afternoon tea outing with friends.
National Oatmeal Month
January is also National Oatmeal Month and new restaurants are popping up with savory oatmeal to challenge everything you knew about the (often boring) breakfast food that is no longer reserved just for mornings. Create Your Nature in Winter Park serves up a savory Lacey Caprese oatmeal bowl that is to die for! It includes creamy avocado, fresh tomatoes, Parmesan cheese and drizzle of olive of oil atop steel-cut oats and quinoa. So good you’ll forget you’re eating healthy. Their fruit topped bowls are also amazing, my favorite is called SOFO – Seasonal Fruits for Orlando – which includes seasonal fruits, Greek yogurt, pecans and Central Florida’s local preserves by Sunchowder’s Emporia.
National Soup Month
Although in Florida we often miss the soup weather, a hearty bowl of soup is always welcome. Celebrate National Soup Month with a bowl from my favorite local spot, Houndstooth Kitchen & Eatery. Originally located at East End Market, they will be opening in Maitland City Centre soon. Chef David Bressler makes fresh soups from scratch using his family recipes and offers a rotating selection of soups each week. His Vegan Curried Split Pea and Tomato Basil Bisque soups are pure comfort food in a bowl. Pair it with one of his sandwich creations and enjoy the weather, because hey, we’re in Florida!
National Baking Month
With the copious amounts of baked treats consumed during the holidays, I would have imagined December to be National Baking Month. That honor goes to the month of January and thankfully there are plenty of great bakeries around town serving every baked good imaginable from cookies to pies to cupcakes and more. My favorite sweet and savory bakery in Orlando, Se7en Bites, continues to delight locals and visitors from around the world. Their Food Network fame has only made them better with expanded menus and more to love. Get there early because this place is always hopping. Their Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Pecan Pie is worthy of celebrating all month long!
National Fat Free Living Month
Everyone starts the year with the resolution to eat healthy, exercise more and lose weight. Right? I guess it’s no surprise this month was deemed National Fat Free Living Month. Not exactly sure what “fat-free living” means because we all need a little fat, both for health purposes and for life enjoyment. Indeed, if you are looking to eat healthier, and balance out the baked goods you ate to celebrate “National Baking Month”, how about doing a smoothie challenge like the Simple 7 from Simple Green Smoothies? They offer easy smoothie recipes for 7 days using only 7 ingredients. Best part is, they taste great. If you are eating out, go for a colorful bowl.
National Slow Cooking Month
After the hustle-bustle of the holidays in December, I can see where everyone may want to slow down in January. It’s time to pull out the crock pots and create some tasty meals, low and slow. This is a great option for Easy Entertaining at home since you can prepare ahead of time without a lot of fuss. I love this Ropa Vieja shredded beef recipe from my friend Erica Acevedo of TheCrumbyCupcake.com. It’s the kind of hearty meal you will go back for seconds and thirds and so versatile – you can eat it over rice (the traditional Latin way), over potatoes, or as nachos with tortilla chips – perfect when entertaining a crowd on game day.
National Bloody Mary Day
Did you know the Bloody Mary cocktail was invented in the 1920s? January 1st is National Bloody Mary Day but you can celebrate any day of the month. How about weekend brunch and Bloody Marys with friends at one of these restaurants, known to serve the Best Bloody Mary in Orlando? Guaranteed good times!
National Spaghetti Day
Spaghetti was always a favorite growing up. As an adult, I’ve mostly shied away from pastas because of the perception that it’s fattening and a diet no-no. Then, I interviewed Vanessa Falcone owner of Trevi Pasta at the time, now owner of Vita Pasta, and learned how fantastically good and good for you fresh made pastas can be. She offers an incredible selection of flavors, made fresh daily, like rosemary, spinach and roasted garlic tomato. You can select your cut, short or long like fettucine, tagliatelle or pappardelle. Pair it with house-made sauces of the day, like tomato basil or Bolognese. Buy it by the pound to take home and host your own pasta party on January 4th or any day you feel like celebrating with friends.
National Whipped Cream Day
Did you know that January 5th is not only National Whipped Cream Day, it’s also the birthday of Reddi-wip founder Aaron “Bunny” Lapin. Aaron who invented Reddi-wip in 1948, was born on January 5, 1914, and died on July 10, 1999. Whipped Cream dates back to the 1600s when it was also called snow cream.
when I think of whipped cream, I think of mounds and mounds of it atop ice cream sundaes. I’m an ice cream fanatic, always on the “Ultimate Ice Cream Hunt” everywhere I go. Two of the most incredible sundaes I’ve ever had the pleasure of sharing with friends, include “The Kitchen Sink” at Beaches & Cream Soda Shop in Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resort, a gigantic bowl in the shape of a kitchen sink, loaded with every flavor of ice cream and toppings plus a whole can of whipped cream! A bit smaller but equally worthy of praise is “The Zoo” at The Soda Fountain, a quaint retro styled 1950s ice cream parlor in College Park which serves house made ice cream in a variety of flavors. It’s always fun to grab a spoon and dig in to a big bowl of ice cream loaded with whipped cream. Sounds like the perfect outing to celebrate this food holiday!
National Bean Day
January 6th is National Bean Day. Did you know there were over 40,000 varieties of beans in the world? Wow! Not all are made for mass-production but beans are a staple in many diets around the world due to their high protein and overall nutritional value and low cost. Growing up in Dominican Republic, beans in some form were consumed almost daily, from “arroz con habichuelas” (beans and rice) to “habichuelas dulce” (sweet beans) for dessert. Red beans were predominant whereas Cuban cuisine mostly serves black beans. A discovery I made when I lived in Miami. I ordered “rice and beans” at my favorite Cuban restaurant La Carreta and was surprised to be served black beans instead of red. A dish with rice and beans already mixed in also has various names, “Moro” or “Moros y Cristianos”, or “congri” depending on what country you are in. In Turks & Caicos, I found that red beans and rice was called “rice and peas” whereas for Dominicans peas would infer “guandules” or pigeon peas, another popular legume served with rice. In Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, beans are called “habichuelas” but in Mexico I found out they are called “frijoles”. There is often a puzzled confused look amongst Spanish speaking friends from different countries when talking about food.
Let’s face it, there’s a lot of beans out there. How about celebrating this food holiday by checking out an ethnic restaurant with a group of friends and seeing what type of bean dish they serve?
One of my favorite black bean dishes in Orlando, I found at Black Rooster Taqueria in the Mills 50 District, while on an epic Taco Crawl (read all about it here). They were a perfect side dish to their inventive tacos with home-made tortillas but could also be a meal on their own with cilantro rice and sweet plantains.
National Tempura Day
Are you a fan of anything battered and fried? Then, you’ll love National Tempura Day food holiday on January 7th. Tempura is a traditionally Japanese dish made of seafood or vegetables dipped in a tempura batter and deep fried. Sushi rolls now often incorporate tempura shrimp and vegetables, especially to please those who want to avoid raw fish. But did you know that it was Portuguese Jesuit missionaries who introduced the recipe for tempura to Japan during the sixteenth century (around 1549)? It is believed that Portuguese Jesuit Tokugawa Isyasu, founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan, loved tempura.
How about celebrating at your favorite Japanese or sushi restaurant? I’m a fan of Umi Japanese Restaurant in Winter Park, Florida. A beautiful restaurant decorated with museum art pieces throughout, a fantastic happy hour, artistic sushi creations and robata grill dishes. Their signature Spicy Jalapeño Shrimp is perfect fusion cuisine offering a spicy Mexican touch to traditional tempura. A hearty roll with shrimp tempura, cream cheese, jalapeño, wrapped with spicy tuna, sliced jalapeño, spicy mayo drizzle, and spicy kobachi sauce that will perk up your taste buds.
National Sunday Supper Day
It started as the second Sunday of January being observed as National Sunday Supper Day and now the entire month of January is Sunday Supper Month. Isabel Laessig, founder of the Sunday Supper Movement and Food Wine Conference, often says “Sunday Supper starts off as one day a week and soon becomes a way of life”. I feel the same about my mission to #MakeSomedayHappen. One step at a time. One bite, sip and trip at a time.
I am very proud to actually have first hand knowledge about the Sunday Supper Movement as I’ve had the honor of calling Isabel Laessig a dear friend after meeting her by chance at a wine dinner in 2012, when the Sunday Supper Movement has in its early days. It is truly inspiring to see how her mission to inspire families to gather around the dinner table has grown by leaps and bounds.
Time spent around the dinner table with family and friends is a valuable tradition. I have been proud to participate in Sunday Supper Movement campaigns, creating recipes to hopefully encourage “Easy Entertaining” so you don’t put off getting together with friends to an elusive “someday”, so you can focus on what’s important – the interaction with your loved ones and not on the cooking and planning.
How about spending the evening with family and friends preparing and sharing Sunday Supper? Check out my recipe for “My Big Lean Beef Greek Wrap” it’s perfect for a casual gathering, easy to make and everyone joins and has fun by preparing their own.
National Apricot Day
On January 9th, we celebrate National Apricot Day. Do you have a favorite way to eat apricots? I tend to always eat them in preserves atop parfaits or with scones. Dried apricots and nuts are also great garnishes on cheese boards. Did you know apricots originated in northeastern China, near the Russian border? It was introduced to North America when English colonists settled in Virginia and brought further west by Spanish explorers and missionaries. The origin of this food holiday is unknown but it is likely to have been arranged by an apricot loving marketing company.
I’m reminded of the fantastic parfait topped with apricots I had at Four Seasons Resort Orlando, Plancha Restaurant at Tranquilo Golf Course. This was honestly all I needed as it was quite filling with layers of granola, fruit preserves and yogurt, but the brunch spread was difficult to resist. Assorted charcuterie, cheeses, salmon, bagels, breads and bakery items plus an entree like Very Berry French Toast and Eggs Benedict, and unlimited mimosas and Bloody Mary bar! If you want to indulge for Sunday Brunch, Four Seasons Orlando does not disappoint and provides a perfect way to celebrate this food holiday. You can read more about this epic brunch here.
National Oysters Rockefeller Day
On January 10th, we celebrate National Oysters Rockefeller Day. A dish so rich, only the wealthiest man alive at the time could compare, John D. Rockefeller. The time is 1899, the place is Antoine’s Restaurant in New Orleans. Jules Alciatore, son of founder Antoine Alciatore, devised the recipe of oysters on the half shell, topped with various green herbs (he insisted it was not spinach, although that is commonly used today), a rich butter sauce, and bread crumbs, then baked or broiled. The recipe is a closely guarded secret to this day. Although the dish is served around the world, only Antoine’s makes the original. It has been served to celebrities, royalty and food enthusiasts over 4.5 million times at this iconic restaurant (they keep count and your order is numbered!). Opened in 1840, Antoine’s is the oldest in New Orleans and the oldest family-owned, continually operating restaurant in the US (today it is run by 5th generation relatives of the founder). This restaurant is on my ‘someday list’ and I can’t wait to visit New Orleans and #MakeSomedayHappen.
In Orlando, one of my favorite places for oysters is Eddie V’s. Their fantastic Happy Hour menu includes a variety of east and west coast raw oysters, seared oysters wrapped with prosciutto andfig glaze, fried oysters with tenderloin and blue cheese, and other creative presentations! Offered daily from 4p-7p in the gorgeous lounge, as a bonus they even have live jazz bands for an Old Hollywood swanky feel. Why not get some friends together and go celebrate Jules Antoine’s epic oysters at your favorite oyster bar?
National Milk Day
Did you know January 11, 1878 was the first day milk was delivered in sterilized bottles? It used to be delivered by horse and carriage, in a big jug, and it was scooped into your own container. Imagine that! Plastic-coated milk cartons were introduced in 1932. The International Association of Milk Inspectors submitted a request to Congress in October of 1915 for a resolution naming an observance of National Milk Day. It is not certain when January 11th was selected as the day to celebrate. Go enjoy a nice tall glass of milk or great ice cream sundae! (Can you tell I like ice cream?) You can also celebrate with my Boozy Frozen Hot Chocolate recipe which I created for Florida Dairy. It will be just as good hot and it makes for great times with friends!
National Curried Chicken Day
January 12 is National Curried Chicken Day. Who knew? The origins of this day are not known but I was curious to discover that curried chicken is not made by using curry powder but instead a sauce made from clarified butter, onions, garlic and a variety of spices such as cumin, coriander, ginger and turmeric.
In England, curried chicken salad is called Coronation Chicken. The dish, created by Constance Spry and Rosemary Hume for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation banquet in 1953, is a popular filling for afternoon tea sandwiches. I had the most delicious ones at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort afternoon tea experience and since it is National Hot Tea Month, you have two reasons to celebrate with a luxurious tea party.
National Peach Melba Day
January 13 is National Peach Melba Day. A layered sundae dessert of Vanilla ice cream, peaches and raspberry sauce invented in 1892 by illustrious French chef Auguste Escoffier at the Savoy Hotel, London to honor the Australian soprano, Nellie Melba. It was originally called a “Pecheau Cygne” or “Peach Swan” and was presented in a swan-shaped ice sculpture and topped with spun sugar. Talk about fancy! I would love to have a dessert named after me? What could it be?
As a kid, going out for ice cream sundaes was only for special occasions. I remember my first Peach Melba, at an ice cream shop simply called “Gelato” – it was THE place to go in Santo Domingo DR in the late 70’s. The combination of peaches and raspberries, two fruits we did not see fresh in DR, made it feel even more luxurious than what it actually was. This was no ordinary sundae. What did I know about luxury at 7 years old? Nothing. But Peach Melba felt and tasted like it. There’s something special about eating foods you don’t normally eat every day. It’s a celebration! What food instantly makes you feel like a special occasion? Head out to your favorite ice cream shop and ask for a Peach Melba!
National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day
January 14 is National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day. Did you know New York kosher butcher, Sussman Volk is credited with producing the first pastrami sandwich in 1887? He claimed to have received the recipe from a Romanian friend in exchange for storing his luggage (now that’s a great deal!) and the sandwich came about when patrons started asking for bread to eat with his pastrami. The sandwich became so popular he converted his butcher shop into a restaurant. Pastrami was invented as a way to preserve meat before modern refrigeration. The raw meat is placed in brine, then partially dried, seasoned with various herbs and spices, smoked and steamed.
Volk’s claim as the inventor of the pastrami sandwich was disputed by the founder of Katz Delicatessen, which opened in 1888. A pastrami piled high sandwich at the iconic Katz Deli is a Must Eat in NYC! The eatery was made popular around the world by the movie “When Harry Met Sally”. While there you must “have what she’s having”. Carnegie Deli was the other legendary spot for pastrami in NYC but sadly they closed in December 2016 after 78 years in business. You can read all about my unforgettable experience there.
National Strawberry Ice Cream Day
January 15 is National Strawberry Ice Cream Day. Not sure why we have an ice cream holiday in the middle of winter, unless they are using Florida Strawberries, which is the only winter berry.
Did you know Plant City, Florida is recognized worldwide as the “Winter Strawberry Capital of the World”? (And it’s less than an hour drive from Orlando and Tampa). It is the dominant region in the U.S. that produces strawberries in the winter, and the second largest producing region in the U.S.
The 82nd annual Florida Strawberry Festival, held March 2-12, 2017, is a great reason to visit! You’ll find the best strawberry ice cream, shakes and shortcake! Read all about it here.
Year-round you can also visit Parkesdale Farm Market in Plant City, FL. This family-run farm and market’s Florida strawberry shortcake and milkshakes have been legendary since they opened in 1969!
Did you know strawberry ice cream was served at James Madison’s second inauguration as US president in 1813? That’s a party I would have liked to attend!
National Bootlegger’s Day
Wouldn’t you rather be drinking ice cold rum drinks by the Caribbean sea right now instead of hot buttered rum in the chill of winter? January 17 is National Bootleggers Day and National Hot Buttered Rum Day. The history of bootlegging is quite colorful. Although the term was first used in the 1880s Midwest when men would conceal flasks of liquor in their boot tops when going to trade with Native Americans, the term truly took hold in the era of prohibition (1920-1933). While bootleggers smuggled alcohol by land, rum-runners smuggled it by sea. The term was coined as ships from Bimini in the western Bahamas transported cheap Caribbean rum to Florida speakeasies. They later moved on to smuggle other types of alcohol but the term rum-runner remained.
National Peking Duck Day
This holiday celebrates the national dish of China on January 18. Sharing Chinese food is always fun, especially when you have lots of little plates on a lazy susan at the center of the table. One of my favorite spots for a fun night out is Disney Springs and a must visit is Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s impressive Morimoto Asia restaurant. Step inside and you’ll see the bustling kitchen behind a glass wall. The showman chef has created a show kitchen like no other. There as the focal point are perfectly crispy peking duck hanging all in line waiting for your order. Chef Morimoto’s signature duck is fire roasted, then deep fried for perfectly crispy skin, the main feature of this dish and why it’s considered such a delicacy. The presentation is perfect for sharing, served with steamed flour pancakes, picked onions, hoisin miso sauce and apricot sweet chili sauces, to make fun wraps.
National Popcorn Day
January 19 is National Popcorn Day. Are you a fan of classic buttered, caramel or gourmet flavors? Did you know popcorn dates back to the 16th century Aztecs? Early Spanish explorers were fascinated by the corn that burst into a “white flower.” It wasn’t until the mid 1800’s when candy store owner, Charles Cretors developed a machine for popping corn with steam that the tasty treat became popular. By 1900 he had horse-drawn popcorn wagons going through the streets of Chicago. About the same time Louise Ruckheim added peanuts and molasses to popcorn, introducing Cracker Jack to the world! Today, Americans consume 13 billion quarts of popcorn a year, more than any other country in the world!
I visited the Park Avenue Popcorn Shoppe in historic Sanford, Florida, during the Sanford Food Tours and loved their “Sanford Mix” of caramel and white cheddar popcorn. They have over 30 flavors! Stop by and pick up a bag. You’ll feel like you stepped back in time. You can also pick up locally-made Project Pop gourmet popcorn in a variety of flavors.
National Cheese Lovers Day
January 20 is National Cheese Lovers Day. Did you know the earliest record of cheese making dates back to 5,500 BCE in what is now Poland? Today there are over 1,400 varieties of cheese. What’s your favorite?
Celebrate with friends by throwing an epic wine and cheese party. Want to know the best place to buy cheese in Orlando? It’s La Femme du Fromage in East End Market, owned by the coolest cheese monger around, Tonda Corrente. She always has an incredible selection of high quality cheeses to enjoy in the market or at home.
If you fancy dessert on Cheese Lover’s Day, then check out the Italian Cheesecake with fresh berries and marsala zabaglione at Terralina Crafted Italian. Located in Disney Springs, this rustic Italian restaurant by award-winning chef Tony Mantuano is the perfect place to celebrate. But hurry, this is a limited time only special!
National Pie Day
It’s time to celebrate pie! January 23 is National Pie Day. Get your friends together and go out for pie or bake a pie. What’s your favorite pie? Did you know the first pies appeared around 9500 BC in the Egyptian Neolithic period or New Stone Age? I wonder what kind of pie it was. National Pie Day was established by the National Pie Council in 1986 to commemorate Crisco’s 75th anniversary. Their annual pie competition in Orlando has always been a fun event. You can read about the longest pie buffet in history here.
In Orlando, my favorite pie shop is P is For Pie Bake Shop in Winter Park, FL. They make every kind of pie you can imagine from bite size to sheet pan, hand pies to moon pies, in both savory and sweet flavors. This was their epic Salted Caramel Apple sheet pie and BBQ pulled pork hand pies served at the Cows N Cabs charity event in October. Both the pies and the event are not to be missed!
National Peanut Butter Day
On January 24 we celebrate National Peanut Butter Day. How do you like to eat peanut butter? Creamy or chunky? In a sandwich, chocolate cup or other crazy combination?
Did you know Dr Harvey Kellogg (of cereal fame) invented a version of peanut butter in 1895 to feed an alternative source of protein to patients who had poor teeth health? It is actually believed that peanut butter goes as far back as the ancient South American Inca Indians. Peanut butter was first introduced to the world at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904 and has been a staple of our diet every since. Americans eat more than six pounds of peanut products per year. Peanut butter accounts for half of the U.S. consumption of peanuts.
Although peanut butter and jelly sandwiches have been popular since they were used as rations for soldiers in World War I, it is The Elvis Peanut Butter Sandwich with bananas (and often bacon) that captures the taste buds of foodies everywhere.
B Cupcakes in Altamonte/Apopka, FL “Elvis cupcake” is a Must Eat! Inspired by The King’s favorite sandwich features a moist banana cake, peanut butter cream cheese frosting dipped in chocolate ganache and sprinkled with sea salt. How will you celebrate this food holiday?
National Irish Coffee Day
On January 25 we celebrate National Irish Coffee Day. Sipping an Irish coffee in Ireland is at the top of my “foodie travel someday list” How about you? Is Ireland on your bucket list? When will you go #MakeSomedayHappen?
Did you know Irish Coffee was first served at a restaurant in the small Shannon airport in southwest Ireland where Joe Sheridan created the strong coffee concoction spiked with Irish whiskey and topped with whipping cream to warm up a group of weary travelers? He described his recipe as containing “cream as rich as an Irish brogue, coffee as strong as a friendly hand, sugar sweet as the tongue of a rogue, and whiskey smooth as the wit of the land.” The exact proportions are left to experiment.
The winter favorite drink didn’t become known worldwide until San Francisco Chronicle travel writer/columnist, Stanton Delaplane had the drink at the airport and loved it so much, he brought the idea to San Francisco’s Buena Vista Cafe in 1952. After much trial and error, and lots of sampling, Delaplane along with Buena Vista owners Jack Koeppler and George Freeberg were able to replicate the delicious coffee and the method for floating the cream on top of the coffee, which is the tricky part. The Buena Vista Cafe was made popular by Delaplane and this Irish Coffee. To this day it is said the Buena Vista serves an average 2,000 Irish coffees per day! As a result, this legendary café is also the largest consumer of Irish whiskey in the US. Definitely a place to visit next time in San Francisco.
Being in Florida, we like our iced beverages year-round. The best Irish Coffee inspired concoction I’ve ever had is the “Iced Irish” at Raglan Road Irish Pub in Disney Springs. Labeled “Ireland’s answer to Starbucks” this decadent coffee drink is made with Paddy’s Irish Whiskey, butterscotch snaps, Baileys Salted Caramel, and iced coffee topped with whipped cream. It’s no surprise this is the most popular cocktail on the menu and a #MustDrink. Celebrate National Irish Coffee Day with friends at your favorite Irish Pub. In Orlando we have several to choose from. You can check out my Top 9 List. Slainte!
National Chocolate Cake Day
On January 27 we celebrate the classic chocolate cake. But did you know that chocolate was initially invented to be consumed as a beverage? It wasn’t until 1847 when the first recipe for chocolate cake was published by cookbook author Eliza Leslie in The Lady’s Receipt Book in Philadelphia. The first boxed cake mix was created by a company called O. Duff and Sons in the late 1920s. Since I’ve never made a chocolate cake from scratch, I’m glad Betty Crocker released their first dry cake mixes in 1947.
Where will you celebrate this epic dessert? Strong Water Tavern located in Loews Hotels Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando, with its rum-centric cocktails (over 60 rum varieties served!) and its Caribbean style tapas, is the perfect place to celebrate National Chocolate Cake Day with friends! Their decadent, rich, gooey and sinful Mexican Chocolate cake had the perfect hint of cinnamon, made with Mexican Abuelita chocolate, to end the meal on a high note. A sugar high note! Oh and I encourage sharing, but perfectly understand if you want to keep this piece of chocolate goodness all to yourself. No judgement here!
Chinese New Year
The Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year is celebrated at the turn of the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar. Celebrations traditionally run from the evening preceding the first day, to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first calendar month. The first day of the New Year falls on the new moon between January 21 and February 20. In 2018, the first day of the Chinese New Year is on Friday February 16, initiating the Year of the Dog.
The holiday is steeped in tradition. Families gather for an annual reunion dinner because what better way is there to celebrate than to gather around the table and eat! They thoroughly cleanse the house in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and make way for good luck. Red lanterns and decorations with themes of good fortune, happiness, wealth and longevity abound. The sumptuous meal includes foods deemed to bring good luck, wealth, happiness and good fortune. Each dish has a good luck symbolism based on the name or appearance. Uncut strands of longevity noodles for a long life, orange fruits like kumquats and oranges symbolize prosperity, golden foods and caviar and whole fish for an impressive display of abundance, dumplings, in the shape of the old gold ingots, the ancient currency for good fortune, spring rolls with their crisp gold color look like gold bars and signify wealth, babao fan (eight treasures rice) literally promises eight treasures to those who eat it, and sweet rice balls symbolize togetherness and family reunion.
Legend has it that the more dumplings or Jiao Zhi you consume at midnight, the more money you will make in the new year. It’s a custom that dates back to the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The dumpling is shaped like an old-fashioned gold ingot, they are boat shaped turned up at both ends and filled with minced meat and finely chopped vegetables. Get your friends together and head out to your favorite Chinese restaurant and eat up!
A favorite Pan-asian stop in the Lake Buena Vista area of Orlando is Morimoto Asia in Disney Springs. The menu is varied and includes a variety of dumplings, filled with pork, chicken and vegetables, perfect for a feast. I sampled these at their Sunday Brunch and they are available all day.
National Corn Chip Day
On January 29 we celebrate National Corn Chip Day! One of my favorite ways to eat corn chips is with chili. How about you? Do you like your chili with corn chips or other toppings? Did you know that corn chips were patented in San Antonio, Texas in 1932?
According to NationalDayCalendar.com (a great site for food holidays trivia), two traveling salesmen created recipes for the corn chip. First, Isador J. Filler, a traveling salesman who often ate tostadas (a hard corn tortilla with toppings) while traveling in San Antonio, Texas came up with the idea of making them in rectangles and marketing them as a chip. In 1932 he patented his concept. Around the same time, Elmer Doolin was also traveling in San Antonio and enjoying friotes, which are different from tortilla chips in that they are sturdier and with a stronger corn flavor. According to legend, he paid $100 for the recipe and experimented with it until he created the ideal chip. Doolin started selling them from the back of his Model T Ford until he began mass producing them under the name of Frito Corn Chips. In 1945, Doolin came to an agreement with Herman Lay (of potato chip fame) to distribute Doolin’s Fritos across the country. The two companies merged in 1959 after Doolin’s death known today as Frito-Lay.
Go get yourself a nice bowl of chili with Fritos or simply share some Fritos and salsa with friends!
National Croissant Day
On January 30th, celebrate National Croissant Day! Do you prefer plain, almond or filled with chocolate? The best croissants I’ve ever had were in Berlin, Germany. My morning routine consisted of a buttery crescent shaped roll, perfectly crispy on the outside and soft pillowy on the inside, paired with a latte. Getting a chocolate-filled kind was reserved for days I wished to indulge. (Which was often!
Did you know croissants date back to the 13th century? You may think they are of French origin but it wasn’t until 1939, when Austrian military officer August Zang opened his Viennese bakery in Paris that the modern croissant made with laminated dough as we know today was invented.
Where will you celebrate today? I love Le Gourmet Break, a French bakery tucked in a side street of Downtown Orlando, where the owners make perfect giant croissants with chocolate or almonds. If you want a hearty breakfast try the omelette croissant sandwich. It’s enormous!
National Hot Chocolate Day
On January 31st, celebrate National Hot Chocolate Day with a warm mug of this delicious beverage. Did you know that Hot Chocolate and Hot Cocoa are not the same thing? Hot chocolate uses milk and milk chocolate whereas hot cocoa uses only powdered cocoa. The Mayans are credited with inventing hot chocolate. Back then it was served with chili peppers!
Vivoli Il Gelato in Disney Springs is celebrating the holiday by offering a free cup of hot chocolate with any purchase. This gelato shop serves up the authentic taste of Florence with original gelato recipes dating back to the 1930s. Overseen by third-generation gelato maker Silvana Vivoli, her team creates Italian masterpieces with fresh ingredients just like they did in her grandfather Raffaello’s shop in Italy (still in operation today and one I hope to visit someday!) Signature gelato flavors include seasonal offerings, milkshakes, affogato and sorbet are all delicious.
If you’re looking for a cool treat instead, check out my Boozy Frozen Hot Chocolate recipe. Either hot or cold, get together with friends and enjoy.
Below is the full list of Food Holidays and other fun events by day. This post will be updated to include more ideas each day so don’t forget to bookmark it and pin it for later! (Plus, you can celebrate these holidays any day of the year!). Any day can be a holiday and a reason to celebrate! Cheers!
JANUARY FOOD HOLIDAYS AND OTHER FUN REASONS TO CELEBRATE
^ New Year’s Day
^ National Bloody Mary Day
^ National Buffet Day
^ National Cream Puff Day
^ National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day
^ National Spaghetti Day
^ National Whipped Cream Day
^ National Shortbread Day
^ National Bean Day
^ National Tempura Day
^ National English Toffee Day
^ National Sunday Supper Day
^ National Apricot Day
^ National Bittersweet Chocolate Day
^ National Oysters Rockefeller Day
^ National Hot Toddy Day
^ National Milk Day
^ National Marzipan Day
^ National Curried Chicken Day
^ National Glazed Doughnut Day
^ National Peach Melba Day
^ National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day
^ National Strawberry Ice Cream Day
^ National Fig Newton Day
^ National Hot and Spicy Food Day
^ National Bootleggers Day
^ National Hot Buttered Rum Day
^ National Gourmet Coffee Day
^ National Peking Duck Day
^ National Popcorn Day
^ National Buttercrunch Day
^ National Cheese Lover’s Day
^ National Pot Luck Day
^ National Granola Bar Day
^ National New England Clam Chowder Day
^ National Blonde Brownie Day
^ National Southern Food Day
^ National Pie Day
^ National Rhubarb Pie Day
^ National Peanut Butter Day
^ National Irish Coffee Day
^ National Peanut Brittle Day
^ National Pistachio Day
^ National Green Juice Day
^ National Chocolate Cake Day
^ National Blueberry Pancake Day
^ National Corn Chip Day
^ National Croissant Day
^ National Hot Chocolate Day
Any of these food holidays and events will give you plenty of reason to call up your friends, set a date and go #MakeSomedayHappen.
Follow on Instagram for some daily inspiration featuring some of my favorite dishes and places to celebrate each holiday. Bookmark this post, pin it and save it for quick reference.
Did I miss your favorite food holiday or special event in January? Which ones do you plan on celebrating? I would love to know so please comment below.