My family starts the “holiday season” a tad earlier than most. Like immediately after Halloween early. We ease a few decorations in every couple of days so not to alarm any of the neighbors. (Besides, one year’s attempt to pull all night decorating transformation proved to actually bring out anything but Christmas cheer.) So, early, slow, and steady brings the holidays to my house. Judge if you wish but I like the feel of what “holiday” is and happily give 1/5 of my year to it.
Along with that early decorating, comes entertaining. The holidays mark my hosting all sorts of get-togethers with enthusiasm. For these glorious two months, I channel my inner Ina-meets-Julia-meets-Pinterest in order to host with the most. Whether you are a holiday fan like me or a real Grinch, a few tricks I have learned along the way – from my inner alter-egos as well as my beloved, late Gram Kay who put all party hosts to shame – can help make the most of this special time of year.
Always have a case of (chilled) bubbly on hand.
You likely have white and red wine in your home but you need to be stocked with bubbly. Sparkling wine does not need to be expensive (however no one would be mad if you handed them the real deal when they step into your home). And while you may think a case (often 12 bottles) sounds excessive, once you realize these facts about bubbles you will be glad you have reserves:
• Bubbles are festive. Greet your guest at the door with a glass and instant mood lifting will occur.
• Bubbles are incredibly food friendly. During this season when the menu often runs the gamut of style and flavor – a glass of bubbly will be a versatile pairing partner.
• Bubbles are the perfect last-minute host gifts. Everyone finds themselves in a pinch for a gift this time of year, with a case on hand – you’ll be ready to reciprocate any generosity offered to you.
Cheat Sheet Mixology.
I am a lazy bartender – so when I discovered that swapping out one ingredient for another makes 2 different drinks – I was on board.
Here’s my repertoire:
Negroni – 1 oz. Gin, 1 oz. Campari, 1 oz. Sweet Vermouth
Turns into a Boulevardier – swap the Gin for Rye Whiskey and voila!
And nothing is easier than a Mule station:
Ginger beer + Booze of your choice (Vodka/Gin/Tequila/Rum/Irish Whiskey) Easy-peasy.
“Fake it – then say you made it” – Gram Kay
It’s a running joke with my friends that if they make a recipe I like, I will recreate it and call it my own (Noelle’s Hoisin Chicken Wraps actually are my college friend Amy’s). I’ve been caught doing this several times and I am not one bit sorry. So, imagine my plagiarizing delight when I began working here at Surdyk’s and walked into the Cheese Shop filled with their house-made delights. I bring it home, display it in my own dish and let everyone marvel at my culinary skill. Gram would be so proud.
Happy Holidays from my family to yours.
Surdyk’s Wine Consultant