It’s here, it’s here, it’s HERE! Only now can the holiday season officially begin. I’ll explain. About three years ago, my husband, who understands my warped sense of humor quite well, introduced me to the writing of Drew Magary, a GQ and Deadspin columnist – or more specifically, he introduced me to the wonder and beauty that is Magary’s annual Hater’s Guide to the Williams-Sonoma Catalog. Matt told me to read it. I did. Laughing hysterically is putting it rather mildly. There were tears running down my face. There was gasping for air. There was the inability to sit up straight while grabbing my sides because of laugh cramps. A few times, there has even been wine shooting out my nose. I now look forward to its publication every year. This is true snark at its very finest.
2012 was the first year of this fine tradition, but I believe my introduction did not occur until 2014. In short, the Hater’s Guide is a perusal of the annual holiday edition of Williams-Sonoma’s catalog and a written analysis of its more ridiculous, overpriced items for sale, that can overall be succinctly summed up as: Seriously, Who Buys This Shit?
I think my favorite absurdity from this year’s catalog was the Latke Starters. Yes, you read that correctly. LATKE. STARTERS. Because that is a thing, how exactly? And just to rub your face in your boring, non-Bridgehampton life even further, they don’t even grate the potatoes for you. I’ll offer my favorite sample from this year’s guide, for a Roccbox Pizza Oven:
Copy (meaning the catalog’s blurb): “[T]he world’s first portable stone-floored oven. It reaches 930 degrees in just 15 minutes. Includes both wood burner and convenient gas burner.”
Drew says: Does anything about that pizza droid strike you as portable or convenient? This is the kind of shit you buy if you’re one of those insufferable yuppie couples featured in Bon Appétit magazine because they have endless disposable income to spend on rustic eating and wine glasses the size of a small moon. “Lars Turddsen is Seattle’s hottest chard purveyor. His partner, Lisa Gong, knits cat fur. And together, they throw the BEST parties, inviting dozens of friends to the top of a local boulder for batch cocktails, squash blossoms, and homemade lingonberry pies! But bring your sleeping bag! THESE PARTIES GO WAY LATE!” [12-page photo spread of people laughing next to a plate of beef]
The entire home pizzamaking industry is a bottomless hole of pricey pizza ovens and pizza stones and pizza steels and pizza grave slabs. Is it worth all that trouble and expense when you go could go to Pepe’s? Reader, it is not. Buy a nut bowl instead.
As you can see, it’s quite difficult to narrow down a favorite anything from this series, but if you were to put a gun to my head (please don’t), I think the most memorable wine-snorting incident occurred in 2015. The culprit? The W-S peppermint bark. You know, the stuff they sell in tins that’s ridiculously easy to make at home? And that was the year W-S was really pushing this candy down our throats and begging us all to get #BarkYeah trending on social media. Remember that? The Hater’s Guide dealt with it brilliantly, responding with BARK YEAH BITCH, a saying that will never leave the inner workings of my brain so long as I live.
And it’s why I felt it necessary to celebrate this year’s release with a homemade peppermint bark. One, because for the love of all that is holy, YES IT IS SO EASY TO MAKE AT HOME and there’s really zero reason to buy overpriced crap, and two, because I personally believe we should get #barkyeahbitch trending on social media this holiday season. In case you were wondering, peppermint bark does make a reappearance in the 2017 Hater’s Guide, but this time W-S adds flaky sea salt and ups the price. Oooohhhh. (I hate to say it, but that’s a really good idea and sounds delicious.)
I’m linking to this year’s, plus all the back editions of the Hater’s Guide, so you too can laugh to the point of falling off your chair while spitting and/or snorting your beverage. They are all well worth your time. And do make this bark yourself instead of shelling out over $50 for a tin. The humanity! Enjoy, and don’t forget: #barkyeahbitch
The 2017 Hater’s Guide to the Williams-Sonoma Catalog
The 2016 Hater’s Guide to the Williams-Sonoma Catalog
The 2015 Hater’s Guide to the Williams-Sonoma Catalog
The 2014 Hater’s Guide to the Williams-Sonoma Catalog
The 2013 Hater’s Guide to the Williams-Sonoma Catalog
The 2012 Hater’s Guide to the Williams-Sonoma Catalog
SOURCE: Taste of the South Magazine Southern Christmas Special Collector’s Issue, 2016
6 (4 oz.) bars white chocolate, chopped or broken up by pounding on them with a meat mallet, while still sealed in the package
1 (4 oz.) bar bittersweet or dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup crushed peppermint candy (candy canes will do fine)
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Set up a double boiler – if you don’t have a real one, simply set a heat-proof bowl over a small pot of simmering water. Just make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water at all. Add the broken up white chocolate and let it melt slowly, because white chocolate is particularly attitudinal and will seize on you if you try to melt it too quickly. After a minute or two, once a little has started melting, stir continually until the whole thing is smooth.
Once fully melted, spread the white chocolate in an even layer on the prepared pan. Sprinkle evenly with the chopped dark chocolate and crushed peppermint. Let stand until set, which will take several hours. I like to let mine set up in the refrigerator, because I think chilled bark candy tastes much better than room temperature. When it’s ready, break it up into pieces and serve or cover and store for up to 2 weeks.