“Mystery Ingredient”

[.puz][PDF][Solution] 👨‍🍳👩🏻‍🍳👩🏾‍🍳👨‍🍳

Tomorrow, Wednesday February 5th, my 24th puzzle appears in the New York Times. In an odd bit of happenstance, it was the *third* puzzle I ever had accepted by Will Shortz et al. I’m looking back at the grid, and… I don’t hate it. Which is sort of an anomaly for me in reviewing my earlier work.

SO. Let’s whet our #rosswordpuzzle appetite with a mid-week amuse-bouche. Can you taste that? There’s just… *something* on your palate that you can’t… *quite* identify. Can you?

Go for a dip?

*SPOILER ALERT* This is one of those puzzles that required adding words to my word list to build out the theme set. I wanted to limit myself to SAUCEs that were very identifiably SAUCE. As opposed to, like, dips and drizzles and dressings. So the number of concealable words was actually pretty short. RAGU didn’t offer too many options, but DRAG UNDER came mind, and in it went.

MOLE is delicious. RAGU is a brand name, but it’s also apparently a distinct type of sauce. Useful! And PESTO was an obvious choice, given the letter distribution. And… P[R]ESTO! Theme set.

Is it good? Need more salt? You can be honest.


Puzzle #8: Loose Chronology

[Across Lite] [PDF] [Solution] ⏰🤔

Omg omg omg we interrupt this regularly-scheduled Rossword Puzzle for a shameless plug. You *didn’t hear it from me*, but tomorrow’s New York Times puzzle is totally worth solving. Not because I had a hand in it (I did), but because it’s a NYT debut for this stellar human. Amanda reached out to me some months ago for some construction tips, and as of this writing she’s sold several crosswords to outlets like Inkubator, the WSJ, and the NY Times. And she’s my new puzz bestie. 💕

Anyway, a bit about this week’s Rossworld Puzzle below… *SPOILER ALERT*

Drip tock

This puzzle’s revealer, DO YOU HAVE THE TIME, is one of those 16-letter revealers that you giddily count out hoping (HOPINNNGGG) it’ll fit in a standard 15×15 grid. When it doesn’t, you know that whatever you come up with is going a) to the NYT, which allows constructors to go 16-wide, b) onto the scrap heap, or c) onto your blog. And… here we are.

There aren’t any super long down “bonus” answers because the middle themer requires black box placement that chops up the sides pretty thoroughly. But when the first themer came to mind, I knew there was a decent puzz here.

Solve it quick, nerds… tempus fugit!