By Elyse Glickman
Sugarplums are fine for kids, but they may rip out a filling. For the rest of us over 21, why not fill the remaining days of 2013 with a little bit of flavor AND taste?
…and while we’re at it, consider these tidbits for possible bowl game viewings, Award show viewing parties and even Valentine’s Day?
My being a nice Jewish girl notwithstanding (and Hanukah coming and going rather quickly and quietly this year), I love that the entire month of December offers a fine excuse to get friends together, entertain, watch movies or big sports events and, of course, eat and drink. I plan to plan something between Christmas and New Year’s—just because!
In the days leading up to Christmas Break, representatives from trend-setting restaurants invited me to come down to their bars to sample creative, seasonal things they were whipping up to bring people in. While the cocktails are quite spectacular, I found that the bite-sized delights they were serving with the drinks were just as inspired—some of them can even be things transformed from leftovers from larger meals.
Also, it occurred to me, why should the days between Christmas Eve and January 2 be quiet or melancholy, when they can be filled with fun and friends. All it takes is a little creativity in the kitchen, and perhaps, a good Bowl game or Netflix?
Trattoria Neapolis in Pasadena starts their happy hour nosh session by putting out corndogs and chips. However, we’re talking brussels sprout chips with sea salt and black pepper and corndogs made with Italian sausage and a sundried tomato aioli dip. Also, an Italian feast—even a small one—is not complete without prociutto, cheese and fresh, warm bread.
The delectable, more substantial nibbles that follow include a short-rib mini manwiches (an inspired way to reinvent leftover brisket or pot roast at home), spicy chicken wings and pumpkin pizza.
Pumpkin Cream Pie Cocktail
· Rum Infused in House with fresh pumpkin, pumpkin butter, allspice dram, and cream.
Santa’s Little Helper Cocktail
· Appleton Estate V/X Rum
· brown sugar
· spices (nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves)
The Fireside Cocktail
The only thing that could be a better partner for a classic tiramisu dessert is a tiramisu that swaps out the chocolate and coffee for seasonal pear slices.
· Ron Matusalem Rum
· Homemade Eggnog (organic eggs, sugar, heavy cream)
· freshly grated nutmeg.
A classic artisanal cheese plate and perfectly cooked fries with truffle aioli makes up the food part of the foundation at The Eveleigh in West Hollywood. From there, the kitchen brings out medium-rare meatballs with a sprinkle of parmesan and crostata with burata and figs.
I also love the fact that with a couple of exceptions, every cocktail here mixes different elements from around the world and yet has a flavor that’s balanced and harmonious. If only world peace were just as easy to come by…
· Rye whiskey
· hopped Aperol cordial
· fresh Grapefruit
· fresh lime
· Peychauds bitters
· Aviation Gin
· Noilly Pratt dry vermouth
· Punt e Mes
· Carpano Antica
· orange essence
An eastern India twist on a southern favorite
· Chai infused bourbon
· house-made Satsuma marmalade
· High West Son of Bourye Whisky
· bonded apple brandy
· house made spiced apple
· gomme and bitters
· Earl grey infused Amontillado Sherry
· Lemon Juice, cane sugar, orange essence
Punch Drunk Love
· Cuban style rum
· Batavia Arrak
· House-made spiced pineapple syrup
· fresh pineapple juice
· fresh lime juice
Bols on Parade
A Dutch Twist on the classic Peruvian Pisco sour
· Bol’s Genever
· Fino Sherry
· pistacio/lavender orgeat
· fresh lemon juice
· egg white
Finally, at West Hollywood’s Fig and Olive, at the launch for their own Fig & Olive Soundtrack Album (available at Figandolive.com), they created the most elegant canapés simply by scaling down some of their full-sized signature appetizers into luscious bite sized bits, including their famous mixed bruschetta with different toppings.
For cocktails, they offered up a couple different sangria recipes artfully displayed in pretty jars, as well as these desserty delights:
· Cinnamon Infused Tequila
· Fresh Cream
· Coffee liqueur
· Vanilla Infused vodka
· Pumpkin puree
· Apple Brandy
· Fresh Lime juice
· Banana infused bourbon
· Cocoanut and pineapple puree
· Pomegranate topper or float
Come to think of it, these three would be sweet on Valentine’s Day!
So there you have it—ideas that get creative juices flowing and mouth watering. However, if things get a little too busy, it is wonderful to know these restaurants are open for business, and if the world is too overwhelming, I can just head over with my best friends to toast the year to come…even if it is on December 27.