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Holiday Entertaining and Gifts 2013

December 04, 2013
Celia Sin-Tien Cheng, Cynthia Sin-Yi Cheng, Nancy Matsumoto

This year, we’ve come up with some useful tips for holiday entertaining and shopping. From the perfect art to freshen up your kitchen décor to tips for shopping spree cocktail breaks and recommendations for recipes and cheese platters, it’s going to be a very festive holiday season indeed! Here’s a round up of our picks and tips. Click the links or images to access the cravings.

And don’t forget our fall cookbook suggestions also make good entertaining guides and gifts.

Sipsmith London Dry Gin A. Flatiron Wine & Spirits

When it comes to entertaining, we must never compromise quality for convenience. But quality can be convenient! Take, for example, the gin and tonic. Few things are simpler or better, especially when you’re using the best possible ingredients — and when it comes to gin and tonics, both ingredients matter equally. Sipsmith, a... full article

2011 Herdade do Esporão Verdelho B. Union Square Wine and Spirits

Let’s start with the right pronunciation: Verdelho is pronounced “Ver-DELL-you” in Portuguese. This bright and crisp Verdelho is made from one of the grapes that is used in Madeira. Think ripe, juicy grapefruit and serve it with any seafood appetizers (or a pungent Portuguese cheese like Serra da Estrela). ($13)

2011 Eccoci Blanco C. Bottlerocket Wine and Spirit

Eccoci is all personality from name to glass. This blend of Roussanne, Viognier and Petit Manseng is anything but the wine next door. The three grapes — French expats in Catalonia — are an unexpected floral and zippy trio. For good party conversation you can mention, in passing, that the winery is owned by Elsa Peretti, the famous Italian jewelry designer. ($18)

Cynthia Sin-Yi Cheng D. Anthony Road Wine Company, Fox Run Vineyards, Red Newt Cellars

This blend of Rieslings from three of the top Finger Lakes wineries exemplifies the beauty of collaboration. Three terroirs plus three winemakers equal one singularly exceptional wine. This wine has a sharpshooter acidity, but it’s equally voluptuous. It was selected as one of the luncheon wines for Obama’s inauguration. The rest is history. ($30)

Cynthia Sin-Yi Cheng E. Campbell Cheese & Grocery

To spice things up at your holiday party, why not pick up a few bottles of hot sauce across a wide range of styles and have your guests sample them with some hors d’oeuvres. A heated discussion is sure to ensue…

I recommend including a bottle of Queen Majesty’s... full article

Cynthia Sin-Yi Cheng F. The Chocolate Room

The only reason ever to serve chocolate is when you’ve discovered one that beats all the others you’ve tasted. This is definitely a chocolate confection worthy of serving at your holiday party. The Chocolate Room’s cookie chip chocolates will take you on a wild ride, with ingredients you know so well presented in a form that... full article

Cynthia Sin-Yi Cheng G. Bottlerocket Wine and Spirit

To encourage your friends to drink more bubbles in 2014, send them off each with a Bottle Bubble Freeze. I love the honeycomb design, and it is a lifesaver for bringing your bubbly on the go!

Cocktail Break H. Tavern on 51

As you are running around town getting all the things you need for this holiday season, you will surely find yourself hitting all the majestic department stores lining Fifth Avenue. Don’t wear yourself down before the season even begins! Always know where you can take a cocktail break.

Plop yourself down on one of the roomy arm chairs... full article

DIY Cocktails I. Marcia Simmons & Jonas Halpren

Inspired by both the cocktail and the DIY booms, this book does what Michael Ruhlman’s “Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking” did for food — it liberates readers from specific recipes and gives them the tools to experiment knowledgeably without having to endure wildly off-target failures.

Simmons and Halpren... full article

Pottery J. Sara Japanese Pottery

This gem of a shop has been introducing hand-picked Japanese ceramic artists to New Yorkers for nearly 25 years. Fashion designer Kumi Uemura founded the shop and now runs it with her husband Naoki. Selections range from ultra-rare plates, vases and bowls priced in the tens of thousands of dollars to everyday ware that will add beauty to your... full article

Food Art Pairings K. David Schwen

Check out these signed, limited edition prints from David Schwen’s Pantone chip-inspired photo series, Food Art Pairings. The prints would be a fun and affordable gift for anyone on your list who, like me, loves food just as much as design. Carrots and peas, mac and cheese, and ketchup and mustard are a few of my favorites. They just... full article

Celia Sin-Tien Cheng L. Best Made

I have always considered the topics that we cover at Cravings — food, wine, design and such — to be gender neutral. But when I visited the boutique and online store Best Made, I realized that there is a whole realm of designer goods that approach design and utility from a distinctly masculine point of view. Just because you are camping or... full article

Goat Cheese M. Bedford Cheese Shop

French Goat Cheese for the Holidays
By Liz Thorpe, French Goat Cheese Ambassador

I like the holidays as an excuse to serve rare and exceptional foods. For example, consider making a cheese plate extraordinary by focusing on one particular type of cheese. This year, before the pies roll out, I’ll be offering a course with a spectrum of... full article

Jenny McCoy’s Desserts for Every Season N. Jenny McCoy

The dishes we make for dessert are determined not only by tradition, but also by seasonality. A guide to sweet treats to carry you from the winter holidays through spring, summer and fall, “Jenny McCoy’s Desserts for Every Season” is the perfect holiday gift. I asked McCoy to share her favorite holiday dessert... full article

Perfect Pies and More O. Michele Stuart

During the holidays, pies and other goodies are necessary indulgences. As we look for new recipes to fill our tummies and warm our hearts, pastry chef Michele Stuart’s latest cookbook, “Perfect Pies and More,” couldn’t have been released at a better time. Stuart is a 27-time National Pie Baking Champion, but you can judge... full article