You and your partner have decided to entertain on New Year’s Eve this year, inviting old friends and new to welcome 2013 in style.
Not a bad plan, but what will you serve to make your event memorable? After all, New Year’s Eve is just not a chips-and-salsa event, and it’s too late to hire a caterer or personal chef.
Are you strapped for ideas for celebrating New Year’s Eve? Have you received a last-minute party invitation and don’t know what to bring?
Relax. Nothing shows sophistication like Champagne – if you can afford the product from the Champagne region of north of Paris, where the concept of sparkling wine originated. Lesson one: All Champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine can legally be called Champagne.Lesson two is that there is a broad array of delicious sparklers produced around the world that sell for a variety of prices, often much less than Champagne. You can broaden everyone’s palate by serving a sparkling wine they never experienced before.
Here are some suggestions to help add a little effervescence – at a reasonable cost – to the last night of 2012.
Most Americans never will sip the watermelon margarita at Guy Fieri’s behemoth Times Square restaurant, nor savor the chicken Alfredo at the Olive Garden in Grand Forks, N.D.
Yet both eateries somehow shot to the top of the nation’s culinary zeitgeist in 2012, for this was the year of the viral restaurant review, when the rants and raves of seasoned pros and naive octogenarians alike got superstar treatment on the world wide smorgasbord.
My research for this article led me to a cookbook published in 1891 by the Ladies of the Plymouth Church in Des Moines, Iowa. The book’s introduction contained the following caveat:
“The Ladies who compiled this manual have thought it best not to include alcoholic condiment, believing it better to lack a certain piquancy in food and drink than to bring to the home table anything which may so easily work mischief.”
Balderdash. The holidays will arrive and with them good spirits and spirited cheer. Parties will pop with Champagne corks, percolate with fragrant punches and sparkle with spiced wine. Lively libations will pour all around.
Vittorio Giordano knows that the holidays are best celebrated with truffles. He doesn’t mean the overwrought chocolate kind that come wrapped in colorful foil, but the exotic fungus that grows underground and is considered a delicacy worldwide.
“Truffles are rare, unique and can’t easily be cultivated,” says Giordano, vice president and U.S. truffle buyer for Urbani Truffles, based in New York City. “That’s what makes them exciting.”
Those characteristics also make truffles the world’s most expensive food, commanding as much as $250 per ounce from chefs and foodies across the U.S. Despite the high prices, truffles often are in short supply, and Urbani’s seasonal stock of white truffles, the rarest of all, will soon be gone.
“The white ones from Italy’s Piedmont and Alba regions are only available for several months of the year,” says Amanda Dentici, purchasing manager and truffle buyer for Glorioso’s Italian Market, 1011 E. Brady St., Urbani’s outlet in Milwaukee. “They are the perfect luxury commodity, precious and getting more so all the time.”
The “triskele,” a symbol from ancient Greece, utilizes three interlocking spirals, three bent human legs, or any other threefold element to convey rotating motion. The symbol is especially popular in Celtic culture.
Former River Lane Inn head chef JoLinda Klopp and her partner Lynn Winter chose the name Triskele’s for their quaint South Side Milwaukee neighborhood restaurant. The eatery has been on a continual path toward success, celebrating its fifth anniversary on Oct. 31. The small corner location at Third and Maple streets, formerly home to Nina’s Horsefeathers, has become popular for its casual, comfortable atmosphere and exceptional food.
The Food Network is getting into the restaurant business in a location not always associated with good food: An airport.
The channel has opened its first Food Network Kitchen at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in South Florida in the JetBlue terminal.
Did you know that duck fat is healthier for you than other animal fats? That 36 percent of the state of Washington is composed of basalt, a mineral base formed from cooling volcanic lava? That mold is a desirable part of salami production?
Those were just a few of the things we learned at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Wine & Dine Wisconsin 2012, the two-day food and libations celebration presented Nov. 10-11 at the Delta Center in downtown Milwaukee. The fourth annual gustatory festival was designed to entertain, educate and satiate foodies, oenophiles and hopheads of all stripes. And there was no shortage of opportunities to eat, drink and learn.
For most people, Thanksgiving is a gustatory romp that revolves around a plump, steaming turkey with all the trimmings. But we’ve found that side dishes are bountiful in and of themselves. Add a touch of creativity and you will never even miss the overgrown Butterball.
If you’re one of the growing number of health-conscious and merciful people crying “fowl” over factory-farmed turkeys, there are many meatless alternatives for your feast.
Thanksgiving was first celebrated in fall of 1621 by the English settlers of Plymouth Colony in what is now Massachusetts and the neighboring Wampanoag Indians as a way to celebrate the harvest before the cold winter set in. A three-day affair, that first Thanksgiving did not list turkey as the main attraction. Instead, the menu included deer, seal, swan and lobster – all of which were locally available.
President Barack Obama and contender Mitt Romney are going hammer and tongs in their race for chief executive of the United States. The heat, as they say, is on. As food writers we felt it also was time to turn up the temperature in the First Kitchen.
It’s difficult to picture Michelle Obama, after a day of First Lady duties, or Ann Romney, fresh from dressage practice, strapping on an apron and heading into the kitchen. But both have come forward with widely touted recipes they say are family favorites. In light of next month’s presidential election, we tested several to see what we might expect from the head of the next, ahem, Kitchen Cabinet.
Mark your calendars and ready your palates. At one minute past midnight on Nov. 15, the 2012 Beaujolais Nouveau will begin making its way to thirsty wine lovers around the world.
The third Thursday of each November is set aside for the ceremonial release of the new wine from France’s Beaujolais region. Pressed from grapes picked a scant eight weeks before, the wine is light, fruity and intended to be drunk young. Enthusiastic imbibers around the world will race for the first taste.
The Alliance Française de Milwaukee will host its 15th annual Fête du Beaujolais Nouveau on Nov. 15 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Intercontinental Hotel, 139 E. Kilbourn Ave. At Chez Jacques, 1022 S. First St., the bottles will uncork at 5 p.m., and the wine will be accompanied by a complete dinner with entrée choices that include Beef Bourguignon, Coq au Vin and Moules Marinieres.
Owner and executive chef Brian Zarletti’s seven-year-old enterprise specializes in northern Italian cuisine. It has one of Milwaukee’s finest kitchens. The intimate L-shaped dining room and its commanding view of the Milwaukee and Mason streets intersection has made it a mecca of sorts for diners in search of a very special evening.
We arrived 10 minutes early for our 8:30 p.m. reservation on a recent Saturday and found the urban-chic dining room filled and the staff moving briskly through the maze of tables. We sat at the bar and ordered a glass of the evening’s featured wine, a 2008 Speri Sant’Urbano Valpoilicella D.o.c. Classico Superiore ($13, or $52 for a bottle), a wine grown in the Veneto region north of Verona.