Alice's NYE Tradition: Champagne, Caviar & CrepesDecember 28, 2016
New Year's Eve can be quite the challenge. Crowded bars and restaurants. Exorbitant Uber bills. Outfits that can only be worn one night a year (remember when sequined pants were a thing?). The passing of a year and beginning of a new one is something that needs to be celebrated -- but I think there's a better way than a mediocre prix fixe dinner and counting down to midnight with a room full of strangers.
While this year, I'll be celebrating with my fiance and his family in Cambodia, usually I opt for an elevated night in with friends and the three C's -- champagne, caviar and crepes (well, technically blinis, but that's not alliterative). Below are my tips and recipes for a perfect New Years Eve at home.
Champagne: You can't go wrong with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot for a special occasion, but depending on how many people you're hosting, you may want a more affordable option. This article from Bon Appetit extolls the virtue of cava, which is made in the style of champagne, but will rarely run you more than $20 a bottle. Taittinger Brut La Francaise is a great option if you want a traditional French champagne, and if you're open to a California sparkling wine, Reoderer NV Brut (the maker of Cristal) is a solid option. And if you're looking to up the Gatsby (and instagrammable) factor of your gathering, don't miss Marie Claire's guide on how to create a champagne tower!
Caviar: Caviar can be tricky to navigate. While beluga caviar traditionally comes from sturgeon fished in the Caspian sea, the U.S. banned imports in 2005 due to overfishing and illegal harvesting. As a result, the domestic caviar scene has been booming, and there are some great options out there. If visiting ROE's website doesn't make you hungry (and give you major design envy) I don't know what will. Their black caviar is sustainably farmed in California and seasoned with fine salt and contains no preservatives. Petrossian is the traditional go-to source for caviar, with tons of great options at all price points and origins. We'd go for this Royal Siberian Caviar or this Hackleback Roe from wild sturgeon -- both are sure to be crowd pleasers. When you're ready to serve, keep the jar in a bed of ice and bonus points if you have a mother of pearl spoon for serving (it's said that metal distorts the taste, although this is widely considered a myth). Keep the accoutrements simple -- we like to add a dollop of creme fraiche to our assembled blinis.
Crepes: As mentioned above, what we really mean here is blinis, but who's counting? I'm gluten free, but so is buckwheat, so most traditional blini recipes are easily adaptable. I like this version from Food and Wine, which doesn't require yeast (too intimidating) -- just swap in Bob's Red Mill Paleo flour for the all purpose flour. Pro-tip: If you don't have buttermilk, you can use regular milk with a squeeze of lemon juice. I also love making mini sweet potato latkes, which are naturally gluten free and seem a little more substantial than the blinis if this is going to be your main appetizer. This recipe from Food 52 is perfect -- relatively simple, but sure to impress your guests.
I hope you have an amazing New Years, whether you embrace this fun new tradition or spring for the Uber surge and head out on the town.