SPARKLING NEW YEAR
Simple Yet Elegant Ideas For Last Minute Holiday Gatherings
By Robin Barr Sussman
It’s time to pop the bubbly and bring out the sharing boards! Chef boards of charcuterie, artisan cheeses, dried fruits, nuts and specialty honey and olive oils are the rage in restaurants and the answer for simple entertaining at home. There’s no better libation to serve than Champagne or sparkling wine to pair with salty, fruity and savory bites. Get creative with these tidbits and keep your group mingling, munching and merry.
INNOVATE YOUR CHEESE PLATE
Taking cues from trendy H-Town spots, arrange a variety of ingredients on attractive wood cutting boards or pizza stones. With your displays, include small cheese knives for serving, as well as tongs, disposable knives and, of course, cocktail plates, napkins and Champagne flutes or wine glasses. Read on for inspirational combinations:
The Chef’s Board at this bustling BLVD Place trattoria blooms with antipasto treasures including prosciutto di parma, marinated eggplant, roasted peppers, Castelvetrano olives, marcona almonds and artisan cheese. Serves two to three, $16. Snag it at happy hour for $10.
1700 Post Oak Boulevard, 281-605-4030, www.northitaliarestaurant.com
Load up artisan bruschetta with a variety of combos such as apples and goat cheese, sun-dried tomato spread or basil pesto garnished with asparagus spears. Other topping ideas: chicken liver mousse, duck pâté with jam, or fresh mozzarella stacked with tomato and basil.
642 Yale, 346-223-1111, www.postinowinecafe.com
MIDICI THE NEAPOLITAN PIZZA COMPANY
Start your board with a mound of creamy burrata cheese garnished with fresh herbs. Surround it with melon balls, figs, sliced prosciutto, grilled sourdough bread, aged balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil or flavored olive oils.
21784 Katy Freeway, Suite 100, Katy, 281-394-9739, www.mymidici.com
These sparkling wines and Champagnes add a celebratory touch to your holiday party, Christmas dinner or New Year’s Eve celebration. Uncork one in your price range. Cin cin!
Mumm Napa, Napa Valley, CA
Sparkling rosé, Brut Prestige (crisp with aromas of apple, ginger and flavors of raspberry and spice), and Brut Reserve are choices to consider. Brut Prestige, about $15. Buy it: Spec’s, Total Wine & More, and most supermarkets.
Moët & Chandon, Champagne, France
This sophisticated Champagne house always impresses from packaging to flavor. Of the wide variety of styles, Imperial Brut is the most approachable at about $37. Buy it: Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods, Total Wine & More, Richard’s Liquors and Fine Wines, and most supermarkets.
Domaine Carneros, Carneros, CA
Of the many lovely tiers from which to choose, the Brut is best for groups. About $25. Buy it: Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods, Total Wine & More, and Houston Wine Merchant.
Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG, Italy
Perfectly crisp and affordable picks from the region: Cinzia Sommariva, Conte Collalto and Bortolomiol. About $15 to $30. Buy it: Houston Wine Merchant, and Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods.
Chandon, Napa Valley, CA
The first French owned California sparkling wine company produces a huge variety including reserves, vintage, magnums, minis and limited edition. Brut Classic, about $16. Buy it: Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods, Total Wines & More, and most supermarkets.
Meiomi Sparkling, North Coast, CA
Flowers, pears and toasted brioche notes. Rosé or Brut, about $22. Buy it: Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods, Total Wines & More, and most supermarkets.
Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut, Columbia Valley, WA
An easy drinking steal. About $13. Buy it: most supermarkets.
Nicolas Feuillatte, Champagne, France
Big bang for the buck. Brut Blue Label, about $25. Buy it: Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods, Total Wine & More, and Houston Wine Merchant.
EPIC PARTY BOARD
Use these guidelines to create one-of-a-kind shareable boards. Many of these signature ingredients can be purchased at Whole Foods Market near the cheese section. Start here, but let your imagination run wild — no cooking or exact measurements required.
Artfully arrange bright Simple & Crisp Blood Orange dried fruit crisps among wheels of soft-ripened cheese like Brie, Saint-André, Italian Taleggio, and Camembert with truffle cream.
Thinly slice Spanish fig and almond cake and serve with small dishes of honey, chopped rosemary or thyme for dipping.
Instead of the usual crackers, serve spicy cheeses alongside unsalted popcorn for a textural twist. For crunch, mound toasted walnuts, candied pecans or marcona almonds in ramekins between cheeses on your display board.
Incorporate a variety of textures and unusual cheeses. Try the delightful Le Maréchal Alpine cheese, Hervé Mons Camembert with porcini mushrooms, and Henning’s cranberry chipotle cheddar.
Central Market, www.centralmarket.com
Houston Wine Merchant, www.houstonwines.com
Richard’s Liquors and Fine Wines, www.richardsliquors.com
Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods, www.specsonline.com
Total Wine & More, www.totalwine.com
Whole Foods Market, wholefoodsmarket.com