Holiday Hosting Made Simple
The Westchester County food scene has everything you need for effortless entertaining this holiday season.
A note from our Publisher:
Yeah, you know the spiel already, especially post COVID, but now is as good a time as any to remind ourselves to shop local. The holidays can be make or break for some mom and pop businesses so ‘tis the season to redouble our efforts to invest in our communities. That’s among the reasons I’m excited to share our holiday hosting coverage with you this morning. Read up on all our recommended food and wine pairings sourced from local merchants. Be the host with the most while thinking local with your decisions as a consumer. Our values really are expressed as consumers by dollars spent so keep that in mind as we head into the December homestretch. Happy reading.
Good morning! Today is Tuesday, December 14, and you are reading today’s section of Examiner+, a digital newsmagazine serving Westchester, Putnam, and the surrounding Hudson Valley.
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Thanksgiving and Hanukkah may be in our rearview mirror as we’re driving from mall to mall, but Christmas and Kwanza still lie ahead. That means we’re smack in the midst of party season when friends and colleagues are primed to celebrate.
Hosting these gatherings can be overwhelming, but don’t ditch the sequins because turkey day almost did you in.
Weighty holidays are great but they can also be hemmed in by ironclad guest lists and family fatigue. The good news is, there are so many other reasons to celebrate during cold, dark winter weekends. Especially when the holiday spirit can last well into February. There’s Friendsgiving and Festivus and National Fruit Cake Day, people. Get it together.
Auld Lang Syne could make you want to pop a cork or weep a river of regret. But it’s your party and you can cry if you want to – just have the dang party and try not to let it stress you out.
Winter begins with a barrage of festivities and settles into gatherings around the hearth and even the television. Maybe Valentine’s Day turns into GALentines Day (or Single Awareness Day — it’s a thing). Or maybe Super Bowl Sunday is the only worthwhile event on your calendar and you’re on the hunt for a heaping platter of sandwiches and wings.
But do you really need to don an apron … Every. Single. Time? Or twist yourself into knots about which wines pair well with buffalo sauce and blue cheese?
Westchester County is chockful of places that produce show-stopping holiday fare. There’s also a myriad of informative wine shops with bottle offerings in which to drown your glorious gluttony.
So, whatever your hosting style, there’s no reason to cower under the pressure to produce time-consuming party food. Or to decide which bottle to drink with that darn brisket. (It was cooked with prunes!) I mean, everyone knows fava beans go great with a nice Chianti, right Hannibal? But what about pigs in a blanket?! Or artichokes? (Hint: nothing goes with artichokes. Have a swig of water and let the sweetness expand on your palate.)
We’ve got the skinny on how to pair and where to source for effortless entertaining all over the county. So, continue to imbibe with the people you like, and let us take the guesswork out of where to find beautifully carved roasts, dazzling sides, crowd-pleasing charcuterie, and precious looking hors d’oeuvres. Then we will wrap it all up in a bow with suggestions on where to grab all the Champs and Cabs and Pinots with which you can wash it all down …just in time for bathing suit season. Cheers.
Fallacy: only white wine goes with fish or red with meat and never the twain shall meet. These are loose guidelines that certainly serve a purpose when you’re getting your footing but, like all good rules, are meant to be played with and broken.
Sauces and sides impact the flavor of each dish. So, what if your fish comes with a deeply flavored Romesco sauce? Or your beef comes carpaccio with capers and arugula? Relax. There are many types of wine that could work for the multi-flavors of your meal.
What makes wine great is its ability to cut through fats or dance over citrus notes. And some wines are so bold they can stand on their own. It’s the entire flavor palate and mouth feel of a dish that you want to take into consideration. It’s a simpler process and more fun than you think.
For each section below, we will pair white, red, and, of course, bubbly with the dominant flavor profiles you’d find during that course. (While we’re on the subject of bubbly, Champagne is only Champagne if it comes from the Champagne region in France. All else is sparkling wine. And either one can carry you through every single course, making you look like a genius.)
To point you in the right direction, here are six great wine shop suggestions from around the county.
Grapes The Wine Company in North White Plains has an incredible selection of carefully curated collectibles. Owner, Daniel Posner, travels extensively to discover hidden gems.
Rochambeau Wines & Liquors in Dobbs Ferry has personable service, a great selection, and also a cadre of boutique spirits.
Zachys in Scarsdale is the granddaddy of wine shops. They’ve been collecting fine wine for almost eight decades, so their offerings are vast.
Dodds Wine & Spirits in Millwood is a tiny spot that packs a big punch with a knowledgeable staff and a ton of wines at good prices.
And, in lower Westchester, we’re going with Stew Leonard’s in Yonkers because of their big selection and, well, who doesn’t stop by Stew’s during the holidays?
Today’s supporting sponsors are the Town of Yorktown…
…and the Peekskill Business Improvement District.
Holiday Roasts and Pointed Toasts
Their sides are amazing but the rotisserie birds at the gourmet marketplace, Ruffled Feathers in Scarsdale, are the star of the show. Holiday packages offer all the trimmings you need to throw a classic holiday dinner party.
Entertaining is made simple at June and Ho in Rye with dishes overseen by chef June Park, as well as crowd-pleasers like beef bourguignon and coq au vin. There’s also a specialty food and flower section as well as a small grocer so you can make this a one-stop-shop.
The elegant New Year’s Eve offerings from Susan Lawrence Gourmet Foods in Chappaqua include hors d’oeuvres like cocktail franks and chicken skewers with Thai peanut sauce. Their featured menu, entitled A Charles Dickens Victorian Christmas, includes a stuffed fresh goose and fresh eggnog.
The list of holiday packages and a la carte selections at GE Brown Fine Food and Provisions in Bedford is extensive and even includes a Morning After package of yogurt parfaits, pastries, and frittata.
You can find Kosher holiday comfort food at its finest at Epsteins of Hartsdale including whole roasted turkey as well as brisket, goulash, latkes, knishes, and matzoh balls.
The farmhouse décor and family atmosphere at Rooster’s Market in White Plains set the tone for its comprehensive holiday menus and a la carte options for all your gathering needs.
And, from ‘Holiday Duck’, rack of lamb and standing rib roast to charcuterie, brisket and a jar of schmaltz, The Butcher Girls in Dobbs Ferry delivers right to your door. Check out their Christmas breakfast package so you can sleep in the next day.
Red: For classic roasts, essentially anything that has full body and firm tannins like a Bordeaux, a Super Tuscan, a Brunello or a Barolo work well.
White: Chardonnay. It’s rich and full-bodied; a big wine that can stand up to a lot of flavors and won’t get overwhelmed.
Additions: Sweet and tart flavors like cranberry, prune, and apple can also pair well with a lighter style red like Beaujolais (Gamay) and Dolcetto. Or for white, a bright Burgundian Chardonnay like Chablis.
Bubbles: Champagne (from Champagne) which trends more yeasty than non-Champagne bubbles. Or a Cremant from Burgundy, typically a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, will do the trick.
Smoked, Ceviche-d, and Sushi-d
From salmon sourced from the Faroe Islands near Iceland and smoked by experts at Mount Kisco Smokehouse to exceptionally fresh cuts of fish and shellfish at both JJR Highridge Fisheries in Yonkers and Eastchester Fish Gourmet Market in Scarsdale, nothing says special occasion like a platter of seafood. But don’t forget prepared dishes, like baccala salad to add to that Christmas Eve menu of seven fishes. And for mouthwatering lox, a crowd-pleasing app if there ever was one, there’s no need to make the trip to Russ and Daughters downtown when Yonkers has bragging rights to Highridge Bagel Factory and Goldberg’s Famous Bagels and Deli.
Red: Smoked fish works with bright, acidic, light-bodied wines like Cabernet Franc. Or a Gamay from the Loire Valley.
White: For Sushi, fresh wines like Sauvignon Blanc from France (Sancerre from the Loire Valley), New Zealand, and California. For Ceviche, a Riesling, which has bright acidity and can be dry or sweet, works well. Or go bone dry, like with a Pinot Grigio, Albarino, or even a Torrontes, a white grape from Argentina that goes with the South American theme.
Bubbles: A nice Cava would go with all of it.
Both Dobbs and Bishop in Bronxville and Second Mouse Cheese Shop in Pleasantville have a ton of unctuous, creamy, and sharp cheesy options and both have large cheese platters that can serve over 20 people for hors d’oeuvres at an approximate cost of $125.
All Aboard in Mamaroneck, a remote ordering service, has carefully curated charcuterie boards and even offers sweet holiday boards overflowing with chocolates and candy. Perfect for that special Valentine.
Globally inspired, Mint Premium Foods in Tarrytown is an eclectic gourmet-food destination (with restaurant attached) where you can stock up on olives and cheeses and spreads and maybe grab a table and order the Moroccan Chicken. No time for that? Owner Hassan Jarane is known for giving out samples while you peruse the heady mounds of specialty items.
Red: The mouth-watering acidity and tight tannins of the Sangiovese grape (could be from Chianti Classico, Montalcino, or Marche) match perfectly.
White: A dry Chenin, which is fresh and crisp. Pinot Grigio works well here, too.
Bubbles: Especially for the saltiness of prosciutto, Lambrusco. This wine’s high acidity and tight bubbles cut right through the lard and are a match made in heaven. Prosecco also has a bright acidity that works well.
After all that fancy partying, it’s a relief to go casual. But you can still up your game with impressive sandwich boards and wings from Lange’s of Bronxville.
The Super Bowl Party Packages from City Limits Diner in White Plains can serve a crowd or you can go a la carte with offerings creatively broken down for “Kick Off”, “Half Time” and “Post-Game”.
Red: A Zinfandel that’s rich, full-bodied, and slightly sweet goes great with wings of ALL sorts.
White: Or go bright and sweet with one of the many great Rieslings from the Finger Lakes.
Bubbles: Let’s continue the all-American suggestions with a Californian Methode Champenois, available both in white and rose.
Jena A. Butterfield is a lifestyle writer specializing in food, drink, travel, and interior design. Whether she’s traveling or not, she can usually be found washing down a hunk of cheese with a glass of Nebbiolo. A native of the land of Quahogs and chowdah, she lives with her husband and son in New York.
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