Rachel Wharton is the former deputy editor of Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan. She won a 2010 James Beard food journalism award, holds a master’s degree in Food Studies from New York University, and has more than 15 years of experience as a writer, editor and reporter. A North Carolina native and a former features food reporter for the New York Daily News, she edited the Edible Brooklyn cookbook and was the co-author of both Handheld Pies and DiPalo's Guide to the Essential Foods of Italy. Her work also appears in publications such as The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Saveur.

Last Minute Gifts? Try Apps, Beer, Bacon

Chances are high most of you still need to snap up a few things for Mom and Dad to put under the Hanukah tree–heck, we still need to snap up all of them–and years of holiday procrastination has taught us some valuable last minute gifting skills. Here’s a few of our favorite go-to food gifts when time is tight:

Missing the Latke Cook-Off in Brooklyn Tonight? The Daily News Has a Few of the Winning Recipes

Tonight our sister publication Edible Brooklyn will be co-hosting the sold-out third annual Latke Cook-off at BAM, where 15 chefs and Dori Fern, the talented Edible reader who won the amateur recipe contest, will compete in the contest to crown the greatest Hanukah potato pancake of all. If you’re missing out, don’t worry, you can at least make Fern’s dish, as the Daily News did a preview piece on the event yesterday–scoring not just the recipe for her “Double-Happiness Latkes topped with Five-Spice Duck Confit” but those of a few of her fellow contestants, too.

Alert Your Barkeep: The Great King Street Cocktail Competition Begins

While researching our next edition–the annual Alcohol Issue that arrives January 1–we had the pleasure of hanging out with the founder of Compass Box at the 12th annual WhiskyFest, which took over the Marriott Marquis last month. John Glaser is an American-born maker of Scotch, which is rare enough already. But more importantly, he’s perhaps the only man in Scotch focused on mixing handcrafted boutique blends from single malt and high quality grain whiskies from other Scottish sources, rather than distilling them himself.

This Sunday, See Fulton Fish Market as it Once Was: Filled with Seafood

Years ago, we were lucky enough to get a pre-dawn tour of Fulton Fish Market, a few months before the old outdoor stalls shuttered and moved operations to a state of the art building in the south Bronx. It was the middle of winter and there on the East River waterfront ice and fish had pretty much become one. As fishmongers went about their work with bloody hooks and layers of clothing, the homeless guys camping out down on the cobblestones of South Street Seaport lit fires in metal trashcans and oil drums to beat the frigid cold. This Sunday’s New Amsterdam market is an homage to what came before, minus the cold and dark and plus a few lobster rolls and other goodies. Called the “Wintermarket,” it’ll feature a whole section of seafood from fisheries of the Northeast and New England.

Need Holiday Gifting Inspiration? Check our Video Tour of DiPalo’s Fine Foods

In the current issue of Edible Manhattan Amy Zavatto takes a hard look at the history one of our favorite meals, the Italian seafood smorgasbord known as The Feast of the Seven Fishes, traditionally served on Christmas Eve. As part of her piece she spoke with Lou DiPalo, whose family-run Italian market has held court on the corner of Grand and Mott streets in Little Italy since 1925. You can get a glimpse of his shop on our most recent NY1 Let’s Eat segment, which airs Fridays and Sundays and is also captured right here online.

An Even Better Reason to Go to the Mall Over the Holidays: Good Beer

Each year at Edible Manhattan we help curate the list of bars that will earn the Good Beer Seal during July’s citywide Good Beer Month. So we’re well aware that while it’s plenty easy to get a good brew in a neighborhood like the East Village or Williamsburg, craft beer fans in other nabes often have to head far to find a bar serving their favorite suds. That’s why anybody living, working or traveling through the West 50s will be happy to learn that Whole Foods Market at Columbus Circle has opened up it’s own beer room, and one even better than than the one they stock at the store on the Bowery–because this one’s actually a bar.

A New Diners’ Guide Looks Not at Food or Service, but at Your Waiter’s Quality of Life

In case you missed it last Thursday, we just wanted to point your attention to a brand-new national diner’s guide–but unlike those from Zagat or Michelin, when this one considers the staff, it’s not thinking of service. Instead, the new National Diners’ Guide 2012: A Consumer Guide on the Working Conditions of America’s Restaurants evaluates whether 150 of popular restaurants around the country provide paid sick days, pay at least $9 per hour to non-tipped workers and at least $5 to tipped workers, and provide opportunities for workers to advance. The guide, from the non-profit restaurant worker group called Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (or ROC), is available free online right here.

Ce Que Vous Mangez: The French Embassy Hosts a Conference on Food (avec Marion Nestle et Politique Alimentaire!)

Though it probably seems like a natural to readers of this magazine, rarely does the French Embassy host food events. But next Monday they are, and it’s one to skip work for. No no, it’s not the world’s biggest round of Epoisses or a tasting of sparking cidre from Normandy (though we’d be down for both) but a day-long program investigating the intersection of food culture and health from French and American points of view.

Greenmarket Hosts its First-Ever Dance Party, a Fundraiser for Farms

In the past we’ve always worn heels to the Greenmarket’s swanky annual fundraiser–usually held at some fine hall here in Manhattan–but this time around we’re considering more practical footwear. In conjunction with Harvest Home, another non-profit group that runs farmers’ markets in the city, they’re hosting their first-ever dance party next Wednesday night, December 7th at the Bell House in Brooklyn. (It’s just a block or two from the F/R train.) Edible Brooklyn is co-sponsoring the shindig, which they’re calling the Winter Warm Up.

The Mast Brothers Add 3,000 Square Feet, a Test Kitchen, Tours and a Finnish Pastry Chef

The topic of our weekly NY1 show is just what you need after yesterday’s binge: dark chocolate. We took a trip to Mast Brothers Chocolates on North Third Street in Williamsburg, where the siblings behind the city’s first true bean-to-bar operation have just expanded their factory by 3,000 square feet and hired Finnish pastry chef Vesa Parviainen to run their new test kitchen.