’Tis the sea­son

It’s time to think about cock­tail nib­bles

Weekend Herald - Canvas - - WINE -

Dur­ing the mid-1980s, be­fore the stock­mar­ket crash, I joined the throngs who par­tied like there was no to­mor­row. It was al­ways the lead-up to Christ­mas when things re­ally went crazy. From party to party to party, the food and booze flowed in rivers — a stream of sil­ver trays, laden with smoked salmon bagels, crisp-fried Ca­jun shrimps, baby leek and smoked ba­con quiches, spicy veni­son sausage rolls, crispy duck won­tons, chicken tan­doori ke­babs and beef carpac­cio cros­tini, part­nered a swill of Bolly, mar­ti­nis, peach mo­ji­tos and sludgy mar­gar­i­tas. By the time Christ­mas ac­tu­ally ar­rived, ev­ery­one was feel­ing de­cid­edly ropey, our di­ges­tive sys­tems try­ing to deal with the con­tents of a dozen or more cater­ers’ fridges and way too much booze.

Th­ese days, most of us can’t af­ford to en­ter­tain like this, nei­ther in the time and en­ergy it takes to pre­pare a mas­sive event, nor in fronting the ex­pense — let alone in en­dur­ing the sub­se­quent hang­over.

Which is why I love the “all fur coat and no knick­ers” ap­proach to throw­ing a Christ­mas party. In other words, cre­ate an im­pres­sive or so­phis­ti­cated ap­pear­ance that be­lies the fact that there is noth­ing to sub­stan­ti­ate it.

There’s sim­ply no point in break­ing the bank or ex­haust­ing your­self over in­tri­cate lit­tle hors d’oeu­vres with un­pro­nounce­able names. At this time of year there’s just too much go­ing on for peo­ple to ever re­mem­ber that yours was the party where they served that amaz­ing seaweed-crusted-tuna-with­smoked-egg-aioli-and-pick­led-sam­phire thing. Leave all that to the pro­fes­sional cater­ers, I say. In my book, a good cock­tail party should be in and out, two hours of re­ally good fun, catch­ing up with peo­ple you might not have seen all year, neatly timed so that peo­ple can come di­rectly from work and then go home.

On the booze front, you may want to of­fer a lit­tle wel­come cock­tail to loosen ev­ery­one up and get the party go­ing but oth­er­wise you only need wine, wa­ter and per­haps a re­fresh­ing non-al­co­holic punch. For the food, two or three types of nib­bles is all you need. Make it look pretty on big plat­ters and fill the house with fresh flow­ers and scented can­dles.

Get a bit dressed up, put on a cruisy playlist (make sure the mu­sic isn’t so loud that peo­ple can’t talk) and get ready to party.

The silly sea­son is here!

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