I’d been wanting to host my first fancy holiday cocktail party at my new apartment for a long time. My vision: Lots of little plates of hors d’oeuvres everywhere (avec caviar!) and a refrigerator stocked to the brim with Sparkling Blanc de Blancs. You know, nothing over-the-top.
The problem: It's 515-square-foot apartment in Brooklyn, which means preparing elaborate hors d’oeuvres for more than four is simply not possible unless I were to get started a few days in advance, which I never seem to do. My fiancé kept reminding me of these little details, to which I said, “Relax. I have a plan.”
I didn’t. Cut to last Friday, the night of the party, and I’m leaving work a little later than planned. Guests would be arriving by 8 pm. This left me (please God, please) with just enough time to figure out said hors d’ouevres plan – which I promised myself would not be carrots and Ranch – walk the dog, hang up a strand of twinkly lights, find the perfect playlist, um, cook all the food, stock the fridge with all the bottles of Blanc de Blancs (which I did actually have the foresight to purchase in advance but hadn’t chilled yet), light every candle and find something to wear. Then, when the first guest arrived, I would casually open the door with a Barefoot Contessa-ish shrug and a smile.
I run down to our warehouse and grab what I see – a couple boxes of Sea Salt & Olive Oil Crackers, a few jars of Olive And Parmesan Tapenade, several bags of Billy Goat Potato Chips and some Weybridge. I call my fiancé and ask him to grab black caviar from Russ & Daughters (the cheapest, please) and some crème fraîche. And I hop on the subway.
I get home, lay out the crackers on my nicest looking serving platter, and top with a generous dollop of tapenade. The crackers are seriously flavorful and unlike anything you’d get at a bodega. The tapenade is blend of Parmesan, Asiago and buttery Kalamata olives, with a bright tang of capers and lemon juice. Addicting.
I had a pre-sliced whole wheat baguette in the freezer (always have a frozen baguette for such emergencies) which I now must microwave (gasp) to defrost. I crisp the slices in the oven, then arrange them on my large, wood cutting board and spread with a thick smear of Weybridge (the most crowd-pleasing cheese ever), and a little drizzle of Spicy Honey I remember I had. Boom.
Now I dump the chips in wooden snack bowls and place alongside the crème fraîche and tin of glistening caviar (thanks, babe). I happen to have two tiny pearl spoons (why, I do not know) which I set out, and you know what? Nothing looks as fancy – or is as easy – as an open tin of caviar next to a bowl of potato chips.
I put all these exquisite, easy-peasey appetizers on the coffee table and line the kitchen counter with plastic champagne glasses. And the doorbell rings.
My friend steps in, exchanges her coat for a glass of bubbly, takes in the twinkly lights, gorgeous platters and bowls, and literally says, “Wow, you’re like the Barefoot Contessa.”
Oops. I’m barefoot. Now about that change of clothes.