ONE STOP SHOP FOR ENTERTAINING
Let Central Market Do the Cooking This Holiday Season
By Robin Barr Sussman
Congratulations to Central Market, an “amusement park for food lovers” that celebrated its 25th anniversary this fall. Founded in 1994 by H-E-B, with roots dating back to Florence Butt’s establishment of the C.C. Butt Grocery Store in 1905 and her son Howard’s expansion of the Butt Grocery Company in the 1920s.
Since the first Central Market was built in Austin in 1994, the brand has grown to include ten locations all over Texas, including Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Plano, San Antonio and Southlake.
The family’s vision was to make Central Market a destination for high quality and specialty foods like cheeses, coffees and condiments from all over the globe, house baked bread, chocolates, a full deli, a prime meat and seafood department, terrific wines and prepared foods.
It’s that time of year when Central Market may become an essential part of your holiday shopping. The catering kitchen creates platters galore from flank steak and shrimp cocktail to quesadillas. Also, count on cold and hot hors d’oeuvre like chicken skewers, crab cakes, and Pacific Rim meatballs.
Charcuterie-cheese boards have never been hotter, and there’s an assortment to choose from. You’ll need wine for your party, and the wine department has the perfect bottle in every price range (and lots of staff to assist). Russ Stephenson, wine and beer manager/buyer, offered some of the pairing suggestions below. If you decide to craft a spread at home, consider these inspiring combinations. No one will get bored with these chef boards.
ARTISAN CHEESE PLATTER
Chef’s selection of cheeses includes Manchego, Délice de Bourgogne, 1883 Vintage Cheddar, Goat, and Gorgonzola Dolcé, along with Marcona almonds, Spanish olive mix, quince paste, figs and cherries. Wine pairing: Long Meadow Ranch Anderson Valley pinot noir and Aperture North Coast chenin blanc (both California).
Milano and Genoa salami, apple wood smoked ham, herbes de Provence olives, country paté, truffle mousse, cornichons, and Dijon mustard call for fruity wines with food-friendly acidity. Wine pairing: Birichion, France, a juicy red grenache or lively La Crema Monterey pinot gris.
FRUIT, CHEESE AND SWEETS
Crowd please with ease by piling on creamy cheeses like indulgent Brie, triple crème Cambozola, Humboldt Fog, along with Marcona almonds, dried apricots, blackberry preserves, Champagne grapes, sliced pears and figs. Wine pairing: floral whites like viognier or Domaine Roland Lavantureux French Chablis.
VEGGIE LOVERS PLATTER
Beautifully shaved cucumber ribbons, green beans, carved carrots, red pepper slivers, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, and toast points served with pink Love Dip (roasted red bell pepper and sour cream). Wine pairing: La Pitchoune chenin blanc “La Bombe” or Sonoma Coast aperitif darling, vin gris of pinot noir. For festive fun, try Schramsberg sparkling rosé, Napa.
Central Market, 3815 Westheimer, 713-316-386-1700, www.centralmarket.com
MUSHROOM SPINACH RISOTTO
Here’s a recipe from Central Market that would be luxurious for a holiday course or vegetarian dish. Pair it with Gary Farrell Russian River pinot noir or rich Benovia Three Sisters Chardonnay Fort Ross-Seaview.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 cups arborio rice
2 tablespoons garlic, chopped
8 cups vegetable broth
4 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 cup baby spinach
1/2 bunch thyme, leaves only
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 cup butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups white onion, diced
1 1/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese
Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about one minute, add the mushrooms and thyme and lightly brown. After mushrooms get slightly tender, remove from heat and set aside. In a separate pot, add vegetable broth and set on medium heat.
In another medium sauce pan, heat the remaining one tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat; add the onions and sauté until they are translucent and tender, about five minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat well. Continue to sauté until lightly toasted, two to three minutes. Add the wine and cook until dry, about five minutes. Add about one-third of the hot vegetable broth and a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring gently until moisture is absorbed.
Repeat with the remaining broth, adding it in thirds and cook until the risotto has absorbed the broth, stirring constantly. Add the spinach and stir to incorporate. Add the reserved mushrooms and remove the risotto from the heat. Stir in the butter and the Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
Yield: Eight servings