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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Entertaining

FOOD FUN: Football & Baseball Cupcakes

Sure, cupcakes are the rage; but what happens when you buy a dozen or two for entertaining?

You pay a lot of money!

The first time you bake a batch instead of buying them, you’ll save enough money to pay for two cupcake/muffin tins to make 24 cupcakes. This nonstick cupcake/muffin pan from Wilton has a snap-on cover, so you can store or transport the cupcakes without messing up the frosting.*

You can also pick up sports-themed cupcake liners, in football or baseball.

This recipe, from Kraft, can be adapted for football or baseball season. I takes just 20 minutes of prep time and the decorating is easy (the toughest part is keeping your hand steady to pike the stitching).

 

Take me out to the ball game, or at least to in front of the TV. Change the decorating colors for football season. Photo courtesy Kraft.

 
*That’s normal frosting, one inch or less in height. For piled-high frosting, you need special cupcake caddy/carrier.
 

RECIPE: FOOTBALL OR BASEBALL CUPCAKES

Ingredients For 24 Cupcakes

  • 1 package yellow cake mix (two layer size)
  • For Baseballs: 1 jar (3.25 oz.) white nonpareils (resource below)
  • For footballs 1 jar (3.25 oz.) orange nonpareils (resource below)
  • 1 tub (10.6 oz.) COOL WHIP Vanilla Whipped Frosting, thawed
  • For Baseballs: 1 tube (3.25 oz.) red decorating gel
  • For Footballs: 1 tube (3.25 oz.) white decorating gel
  •  

    You can also use cupcake liners to hold
    nuts or small candies. Photo courtesy
    BirthdayDirect.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. HEAT oven to 350°F.

    2. PREPARE cake batter and bake as directed on package to make 24 cupcakes. Cool cupcakes in their for pans 10 minutes; remove to wire racks and cool completely.

    3. PLACE nonpareils in small bowl. Spread frosting onto cupcakes; dip tops, 1 at a time, in nonpareils.

    4. USE decorating gel to decorate cupcakes to resemble baseballs (two rows of red stitching, as shown in photo) or footballs (one row of white stitching).

     

    TO BUY NONPAREILS

    The normal size (spice jar) of nonpareils is four ounces and can cost $4.00 or more. But go to a baking supply store, and you can buy them in bulk for much less.

    If you don’t have a local retail source, just buy them on Amazon.com:

    A pound is just $4.95. Choose your color via the drop down menu on the page.

    In addition to all the basic colors, you can choose fall mix (orange, red, yellow); Christmas mix (red, white, green); Valentine mix (pink, red, white); St. Patrick’s mix (green and white); spring mix (pink, purple, white, yellow); summer mix (yellow and orange); and July 4th mix (red, white blue mix).

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Quinoa Bar

    Last month we presented a series of tips to create exciting food bars for entertaining (links below). You can do smaller versions for the family dinner table.

    A few days ago, we discovered a delicious and nutritious quinoa bar at Fresh&Co., a fast-casual, seasonal and organic restaurant concept for health-conscious people who care as much about the quality as the taste. The company currently has eight locations in New York City. For menus and location information, visit:

    Quinoa is perhaps the most nutritious food on earth—a complete protein with more protein per serving than milk! So today’s tip is: for a healthy menu that’s fun and tasty, call on quinoa.

    Fresh&Co Executive Chef Jeremy Leech shared tips for creating a quinoa bar party at home (below); but here are the popular choices at the restaurant which provide a list of ingredients for your own quinoa bar:

     

    The Burrito Quinoa Bowl. Photo courtesy Fresh&Co | NYC.

     

  • Asian Quinoa Bowl: quinoa, smoked tofu, kale, daikon, red bell peppers, edamame, roasted brussels sprouts and scallions with sweet chili sauce
  • Bangkok Quinoa Bowl: quinoa, thai-spiced turkey, daikon, napa cabbage, carrots, broccoli, scallions and cilantro with soy ginger sauce
  • Burrito Quinoa Bowl: quinoa, roasted corn, tomatoes, kale, red beans, cilantro and tortilla strips with chipotle vinaigrette
  • Ginger Seitan Quinoa Bowl: quinoa, kale, kalamata olives, feta, tomatoes and chickpeas with roasted garlic vinaigrette, with grilled shrimp
  • Mediterranean Quinoa Bowl: quinoa, kale, seitan, white cabbage, carrots, daikon, broccoli, scallions, pickled ginger and cilantro with soy ginger sauce
  •  
    Chicken, smoked tofu, thai-spiced turkey and jumbo shrimp are options for any of the salads.

     

    The quinoa bar at Fresh&Co. Photo courtesy
    Fresh&Co | NYC.

     

    TIPS TO CREATE YOUR OWN QUINOA BAR

  • Use fresh and locally sourced products, whenever possible.
  • Have all your ingredients pre-cooked and prepped before guests arrive.
  • Provide a good variety of produce and meats.
  • Make vegans/vegetarians happy with a variety of fresh veggies, as well as some meat substitutes such as tofu or seitan.
  • Don’t be afraid to throw in less common ingredients, such as daikon and napa cabbage.
  • Offer a variety of vinaigrettes and sauces. Make or buy fun options such as chipotle vinaigrette, roasted garlic vinaigrette and sweet chili sauce.
  • Suggest combinations, like the ones served at Fresh&Co.
  •  
    ABOUT QUINOA

    High in the Andes Mountains, quinoa has been cultivated by the Incas for some 5,000 years. Along with corn and potatoes, it was the foundation of the Andean diet.

    Quinoa, pronounced KEEN-wa or KEE-noo-ah, is an exceptionally nutritious supergrain (in fact, it’s the Quechua/Inca word for “mother grain” or “super grain”). It is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal, or grain; it is not a member of the true grass family. Rather, it’s a broad-leafed, annual herb. The seeds—the part we eat*—are white, red or beige in color.

    Quinoa contains more protein—and higher-quality protein—than any other grain. A complete protein equivalent to milk, it contains all eight essential amino acids and a portfolio of vitamins and minerals: calcium, fiber, iron, lysine, magnesium, vitamins A, B and E and zinc. Everyone should eat more quinoa.

    Cooked quinoa is delicious and extremely versatile; it may be used in the place of almost any other grain, including rice, to make everything from appetizers to desserts (make quinoa pudding instead of rice pudding). It has a slight nutty flavor (red quinoa is the nuttiest), which makes it a good substitute for couscous or bulghur. It has a unique texture as well. When cooked, the thin germ circlet falls from the seed and remains crunchy while the pearly grain melts in the mouth.
     
    *The spinach-like leaves are equally nutritious and tasty, but they are rarely found outside of their growing area.

     
    MORE FOOD BAR IDEAS

  • Breakfast & Brunch Food Bars
  • Lunch & Dinner Food Bars
  • Dessert Food Bar Ideas
  • Drinks & Snacks Food Bar Ideas
  •   

    Comments

    COCKTAIL: The Petrossian Fleur De Vers

    Petrossian’s magnificent Fleur de Vers:
    suitable for a coronation or a special event
    for us commoners. Photo by Kimberly
    Craven | Petrossian.

     

    Thank goodness the Petrossian brothers, Melkoum and Mouchegh, moved to France from Iran in 1917, when their studies were interrupted by the Russian Revolution.

    Unable to gain entrance to French medical and law schools, the young men, who missed the caviar from home, became caviar importers. It was they who introduced caviar to Paris!

    Had Melkoum and Mouchegh become a doctor and a lawyer, their names would probably not be known by connoisseurs worldwide. Instead, the name Petrossian is sets the world standard in fine caviar and other delicacies.

    We are huge fans of Petrossian and urge anyone passing through Manhattan to treat themselves to a luxurious meal at the company’s Art Deco restaurant at Seventh Avenue and 58th Street, steps away from Carnegie Hall, Columbus Circle and Central Park.

    There is a more casual café next door to the restaurant, where the restaurant’s beautiful pastries and savory delicacies (including caviar and foie gras) in an informal atmosphere.

     
    While caviar might seem like a luxury frozen in time, Petrossian is remarkable in its innovation, with:

  • Caviar Cubes to garnish cocktails;
  • Papierrusse, the caviar version of a sheet of the sushi seaweed wrapper, with numerous creative uses;
  • Caviar Cream, a heavenly garnish or spread;
  • The caviar “powder” that is used in the recipe below.
  •  
    This week we were invited to the restaurant and treated to a cocktail that is so fine (and memorable) that we wish we were getting married. Although most of us are probably not going to create it at home, it’s the perfect recipe to hand to the caterer for a special celebration. The name was inspired by fleur de sel, the finest French sea salt. We like to think of it as a bit of poetry (vers is French for verse or poetry).

     
    RECIPE: THE PETROSSIAN FLEUR DE VERS

    Ingredients For One Cocktail

  • 1-1/2 ounces Tanqueray or other fine gin
  • 3/4 ounce St. Germain elderflower liqueur*
  • 3/4 ounce green chartreuse†
  • 3.4 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1 drop rose water
  •  
    For The Garnish

  • 1 lemon boat (instructions below)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Petrossian Caviar Powder, unground (whole bead—see below)
  •  
    *St. Germain is one of our favorite liqueurs. Don’t hesitate to buy a bottle. It makes a delicious cocktail with Champagne or any sparkling wine.

    †You can substitute yellow chartreuse if that’s what you have; see the note on chartreuse below.

     

     
    Preparation

    1. HALVE and juice the lemons. Set aside the juice and cut the juiced halves into three or four wedges, 3/8 to 1/2 inch wide. Remove all of the pulp and pith until you have a smooth “boat.”

    2. COMBINE the gin, elderflower liqueur, chartreuse, lemon juice and rose water. Shake with ice in a cocktail shaker and strain into a Martini glass or Champagne flute or tulip.

    3. PLACE the caviar beads in the lemon boat and float atop the cocktail.

     
    WHAT IS CAVIAR POWDER?

    Pearls of fine caviar are dried via a proprietary technique that intensifies its flavor. The dried pearls are sold in a grinder that enables you to grind some caviar over your food (eggs, buttered toast, grilled fish or seafood, potatoes and pasta for starters). Or, you can open the grinder and sprinkle full pearls of the caviar on the food.

     

    In the background, the caviar grinders with a choice of colorful tops. In the foreground, the beads of caviar ready to be used whole as a garnish. Photo courtesy Petrossian.

     

    We’re on our fourth refill of Petrossian Caviar Powder, a unique (and more affordable) way to enjoy fine caviar. We gave it our Food Innovation Award of 2011.

    The grinder with 30 grams of caviar is $88.00; refills are $74.00. It’s a sure-to-enthrall gift for any caviar lover. Buy it at Petrossian.com.
     
    WHAT IS CHARTREUSE?

    Chartreuse, pronounced shahr-TROOZ, is a pale green or yellow liqueur made from brandy and aromatic herbs (green Chartreuse is aged with 130 different herbal extracts!). We prefer the original green Chartreuse, which has more complexity. Yellow chartreuse is a later recipe, lower in proof and a sweeter mix of herbs.

    The liqueur, first made by Carthusian Monks in the 1740s, is named after the Grande Chartreuse monastery, located in the Chartreuse Mountains in southeastern France (in the general region of Grenoble). The liqueur, in turn, gave its name to the startling greenish-yellow color.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Use Grandma’s Tea Cups

    Buy some cookies, get out the tea cups.
    Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    If you’ve inherited a set of delicate tea cups or demitasse cups, don’t leave them in the back of the closet. They’re meant to be used and admired.

    The cups are long out of fashion, but you can bring them back. Start a tradition: An annual or bi-annual tea party.

    You don’t have to fuss: Just serve tea, coffee and cookies and invite as many friends as you have cups. The most laborious part of entertaining will be washing the cups.

    What if they break?

    Yes, it happens. But unless you want to sell the cups to a collector, they serve no purpose in deep storage. Nice things are meant to be used. Cups will break no matter how careful you try to be. Use them and enjoy them.

    (Our grandmother broke several of her own lovely cups. She glued them together and put them on display in the china cabinet. But she left more than enough intact, including the one in the photo.)

     
    JULES DESTROOPER COOKIES

    We’ve become very fond of these Belgian imports.

    You’ll only find a few of the company’s numerous cookie varieties in the U.S., but that’s plenty for a tea party.

    The selection includes Almond Florentines, Almond Thins, Belgian Chocolate Thins (shown in the photo, covered in dark, milk and white chocolate), Butter Crisps, Butter Waffles, Chocolate Covered Biscuits With Crispy Rice and Ginger Thins, among others.

    You don’t have to go out of your way to find them, either: We get ours at the local supermarket.

    Jules Destrooper was a trader in the second half of the 19th century. He imported spices from Africa and the Far East, and also used them to develop delicate cookie recipes. Biscuiterie Jules Destrooper was founded in 1886.

    For a product with a large production, distributed worldwide, the cookies are all natural and of very high quality—better than a lot of bakery cookies. While new recipes have been developed by the fourth generation of Destroopers, the recipes for the original cookies have never been changed.

    The box empties almost instantly at THE NIBBLE. Here’s the company website, which has some really interesting recipes for savory appetizers and hors d’oeuvre with a cookie base.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Bloody Mary Drink Bar & Snacks Bar

    Here’s how we’d customize a spicy Bloody
    Mary. Photo courtesy Arch Rock Fish
    Restaurant | San Diego.

     

    This has been a week of food bar suggestions for entertaining:

  • Breakfast/Brunch Food Bars
  • Lunch/Dinner Food Bars
  • Dessert Food Bars
  •  
    Today we conclude with two ideas for a drinks bar and accompanying snacks.

    FOOD BAR IDEAS: BLOODY MARY BAR

    You have to think twice about a “mix your own” cocktail bar. Guests tend to over-pour, using too much liquor with resulting tipsiness, mess and expense. You have to “limit the exposure.”

    Instead, pre-mix the drinks in three versions: regular, spicy and virgin. Pre-rim the glasses with seasoned salt (see photo). The guests get to customize their garnishes. The most versatile cocktail to do this with is the Bloody Mary.

     

    Garnish with:

  • Pickled Vegetables: cocktail onions, cucumber pickles, dilly beans, gherkins, peppadew, pepperoncini, pickled asparagus, pickled carrots.
  • Vegetables: celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, fennel, green onion, snap peas.
  • More: bacon, cilantro, lemon/lime wedges, olives, parsley, shrimp.
  • Provide condiments for those who want to amp up the cracked pepper, horseradish, hot sauce and/or Worcestershire sauce.
     
    LEMONADE BAR

    A lemonade bar can appeal to kids and adults—especially when adults have the opportunity to add a shot to their drinks. In contrast to our earlier advice about letting people “mix their own,” this is a controlled situation where, at the end of the bar, people can add an optional shot. (Be sure to provide shot glasses for portion control.)

    Lemonade isn’t just for summer: Lemons are plentiful year-round, and lemonade fits in wherever cold drinks are served.

    Provide pitchers of both sweetened and unsweetened lemonade, so those who prefer noncaloric or low-glycemic sweeteners can sweeten their own.

    Or, you can make all of the lemonade unsweetened, and provide different syrups (with pumps!): simple syrup and two fruit-flavored syrups.

     

  • Fruit Juice: pomegranate juice; blueberry, peach, raspberry or strawberry purée.
  • Heat: Cayenne pepper and/or fresh ginger slices.
  • Herbs & Spices: basil, ginger, lavender, mint, rosemary, thyme.
  • Iced Tea: for an Arnold Palmer, regular and passion fruit tea.
  • Spirits: gin, tequila and/or vodka; Limoncello.
  • Sweeteners: agave, honey, non-caloric sweetener, simple syrup.
  • Garnishes: berries, cherries, lemon wheel, mint leaves, watermelon cubes.
  •  
    Don’t forget the ice!
     
    ICED TEA BAR

    While lemonade is more versatile for customizing, an iced tea bar can work just as well. Provide pitchers of brewed, unsweetened black, green, herbal and flavored iced teas with your choice of fixings from the Lemonade Bar menu, above.

     

    Customized peach lemonade. Photo courtesy Stasty.com.

     
    Yes, do include lemonade for those Arnold Palmers!

    How about some snacks with those drinks?

    Create a customize-your-own-snack bar.
     
    FOOD BAR IDEAS: SNACKS

  • Candy Bar: This is a make-your-own party favor concept. You supply candy bags or boxes and guests fill it with their favorites. This is a nice way to end an event, too, by letting guests create their own party favor. Miniatures are perfect for this concept: individually wrapped, they keep things neat.
  • Popcorn Bar: Provide plain corn, cheese corn and kettle corn with savory and sweet mix-ins. Consider candy corn, Chex, chili flakes or cayenne, crumbled bacon, dill, chocolate chips, flavored oils (chili, garlic, truffle), grated Parmesan, gummies, jalapeño chips, M&Ms, mini marshmallows, mini peanut butter cups, mini pretzels, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, raisins/Craisins, Reese’s Pieces, shredded Cheddar, etc.
  • Trail Mix Bar: Provide sandwich bags or snack bags so people can blend their own, from a selection of raisins and other dried fruits, nuts, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, pretzel or sesame sticks, candy (chocolate chips, M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces and seasonal choices like candy corn or jelly beans), breakfast cereals (Cheerios, Fruit Loops). Check out our full list of trail mix ingredients.
  •  
    Now: Pick a date and start pulling together the guest list.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Food Bar Part 3: Desserts

    A simple creation from a s’mores bar.
    Photo courtesy Tastefully Simple.

     

    Over the last two days, we’ve covered breakfast food bars and lunch/dinner food bars.

    Today: ideas for dessert food bars. We conclude tomorrow with snacks and drinks.

    FOOD BAR IDEAS: DESSERT & SNACKS

  • Cake Bar: Angel cake, bundts, cheesecake, or loaf cakes (easiest to slice—carrot cake, chocolate cake, pound cake) with dessert sauces (caramel sauce, fudge sauce, strawberry sauce), whipped cream and garnishes (berries, crushed oreos, nuts).
  • Caramel Apple Bar: see our separate article.
  • Cookie Bar: Offer large or small cookies (chocolate, oatmeal, sugar, etc.) with fillings and frosting, plus garnishes (candies, chocolate chips, chopped nuts, sprinkles)
  • Cupcake Bar: Set out frosted cupcakes, or have a frost-your-own option with different frostings. Garnishes: banana chips, berries, candied bacon, candies (chocolate curls, crushed toffee, mini chips, seasonal candy), edible flowers.
  •  

  • Pie Bar: A selection of pies—apple, berry, chocolate cream, custard, pumpkin, e.g.) with dessert sauces (caramel sauce, custard sauce), whipped cream and garnishes (crystallized ginger, fresh fruit).
  • S’mores Bar: Regular and chocolate-covered graham crackers, regular and flavored marshmallows, different chocolate (bittersweet, milk, white, flavored—like chipotle chocolate), marshmallow creme (here are more ideas for a s’mores party).
  • Sorbet Bar: A lighter way to go after a heavy main meal, sorbet is cholesterol-free, lactose free and vegan. Offer different flavors with berries, coconut chips, crushed pineapple, diced melon, fruit sauce (puréed berries, mango, etc.), gummies, granola, pistachios or slivered almonds.
  • Sundae Bar/Banana Split Bar: Different flavors of ice cream with your choices of everything above!
  •  
    Are you ready to throw a party? Follow up a lunch or dinner food bar with a dessert food bar, or simply do one. Either way, it will be memorable.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Food Bars Part 2 ~ Lunch & Dinner

    Fully loaded from the hot dog bar. Photo
    courtesy Dietz & Watson.

     

    Yesterday we looked at food bars for breakfast and brunch. Today, it’s lunch and dinner.

    FOOD BARS FOR LUNCH & DINNER

  • Burger Bar: beef, turkey and veggie burgers with bacon, cheese (blue, cheddar, havarti, jack, swiss), condiments (barbecue sauce, ketchup, mayonnaise), grilled pineapple, guacamole, jalapeños, lettuce, salsa, sautéed/caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, sliced raw onion, tomato.
  • Chili Bar: bean chili and meat chili plus avocado slices, black olives, chopped green onions, cheeses (cheddar, jack, queso fresco), cilantro, corn chips, diced tomatoes, jalapeños, salsa, sour cream.
  • Hero Sandwich or Panini Bar: a selection of meats and cheeses with all the fixings: giardinera plus your choice of all the other ingredients in this article.
  • Hot Dog Bar: hot dogs, brautwurst and sausage (include non-beef, non-pork choices) plus assorted buns and rolls, bacon, baked beans, blue cheese, caramelized/grilled onions, chili, cole slaw, condiments (ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard choices, olives, pickles, relish, corn relish, salsa), jalapeños, raw vegetables (cucumber, diced tomato, onions, shredded lettuce), shredded cheeses.
  • Falafel & Gyro Bar: babaganoush (eggplant spread), couscous, falafel balls, lamb, lettuce, onions, pita bread, tomatoes, olives, tzatziki (yogurt-cucumber sauce—recipe).
  • Mac & Cheese Bar: one or two mac and cheese recipes with different cheeses and pasta shapes, plus lots of toppings: caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, seafood (crab, shrimp, scallops and lobster if you’re in the chips), fresh herbs, heat (chili flakes, diced jalapeños), toasted bread crumbs.
  • Nacho Bar: tortilla chips plus black olives, chili sauce, chopped fresh chiles (jalapeño and a milder option, such as banana peppers), cilantro, diced tomatoes, guacamole, hot sauce queso sauce (regular and jalapeño), refried beans, salsa (different types), shredded lettuce, sliced green onions, sour cream.
  • Pasta Bar: different pasta shapes and at least three sauces (cream-based, olive oil-based, tomato-based), grated cheese, meat and vegetable toppings.
  • Pizza Bar: basic red and white pizzas plus most of the toppings listed in the rest of this article.
  • Potato Bar: baked, fries, mashed and/or sweet potatoes with chives; same fixings as the Mac & Cheese Bar.
  • Risotto Bar: plain risotto with all sorts of mix-ins like asparagus (or seasonal vegetables), bacon, caramelized onions, cheese, cheeses (crumbled blue and/or goat cheese, grated or shaved parmesan), chives and other fresh herbs, ham/prosciutto, seafood (crab, lobster, scallops, shrimp).
  • Salad Bar: The original food bar concept; expand the ingredients to allow for the creation of chef salads, Cobb salads and spinach salads.
  • Soup Bar: Best in the winter with hearty soups like vegetable, potato or tomato, with garnishes of bacon bits, beans grated cheese, green onions, meats (diced chicken, sausage slices, shrimp), rice and/or other grains and sour cream/Greek yogurt.
  • Taco/Burrito Bar: beef, chicken, fish plus chopped tomatoes, cilantro, grated cheese, guacamole, olives, onions, salsa, tortilla chips, refried beans.
  •  
    Coming tomorrow: dessert bars.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Food Bars, Part 1 ~ Breakfast & Brunch

    Fashion your party bar along the lines of
    hotel breakfast buffets. Photo courtesy
    Seattleite.com.

     

    While summer entertaining is easy—cocktails on the patio, burgers on the grill—the fall brings a challenge. How can you entertain with panache, without killing yourself?

    We’ve grown fond of the food bar, a buffet that invites guests to “create-your-own-dish” with a particular type of food. Caterers call them food stations.

    Whether for breakfast/brunch, lunch/dinner, dessert or snacks, a food bar is festive, fun and memorable. Guests can customize dishes to their hearts’ content, and thrill in the discovery of new favorite combinations.

    It can also accommodate food allergies, vegan diets and other preferences, and feeds a large group easily.

    We start today with breakfast/brunch food bars, with more meals to follow.

     

    BREAKFAST & BRUNCH FOO BAR IDEAS

  • Breakfast Sandwich Bar: biscuits, English muffins, eggs, bacon, sausage, cheese and a myriad of toppings, from barbecue sauce to salsa
  • Cereal Bar: cold cereals, granola, fruits, different sweeteners (brown sugar, honey flakes, maple sugar), different milks (almond, cow, soy, flavored and unflavored), toppings (fruits, nuts, chocolate chips)
  • Cocoa Bar: dark, milk and white chocolate cocoas; spicy cocoa; flavorings (banana, mint, orange, raspberry); toppings (marshmallows, marshmallow creme, whipped cream), garnishes (chocolate or other flavored chips, cinnamon, nutmeg, sprinkles, shaved chocolate/chocolate curls)
  • Coffee Bar: different beans and roasts, flavored syrups, different milks and garnishes
  • Egg Bar: omelets or scrambled eggs with sides of grated cheeses, chili, marinara sauce, chopped fresh herbs
  • Oatmeal Bar: oatmeal and cream of wheat, and the Cereal Bar extras
  • Pancake and/or Waffle Bar: regular, multigrain and chocolate pancakes, syrups and sauces, different fruits and garnishes (chocolate chips, mini marshmallows)
  • Tea Bar: Different teas (try less common varieties including herbal infusions, so people can experiment), sweeteners and milks (don’t forget lemon slices)
  • Yogurt Bar: Plain Greek and vanilla yogurt with lots of toppings, from fruits and nuts to honey and maple syrup
  •  
    Have more to add? Let us know!

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Have An Oktoberfest Party

    On Saturday, as we were enjoying a cup of coffee on a bench at an entrance to Central Park, a stream of people in dirndl skirts and lederhosen passed by us, en route to an Oktoberfest celebration.

    That, and the arrival of a sample bottle of Samuel Adams Oktoberfest beer, reminded us that it’s that time of year.

    Oktoberfest is an annual 16-day beer festival held since 1810 in Munich, Germany, the heart of Bavaria. While it’s called Oktoberfest (German for October feast), the event begins in late September and ends in early October.

    It is said to be the world’s largest fair, with more than 6 million people drinking more than 7 million liters of beer.

    Oktoberfest-style beer is traditionally the first beer of the brewing season in Germany: the Beaujolais Nouveau of Germany, as it were. It’s a Märzen-style beer: a lager that is amber in color, smooth and malty and about 6% or higher ABV.

     

    A glass of Samuel Adams Oktoberfest beer.
    Photo courtesy Fequals.com.

     

    To be labeled Oktoberfest beer in Germany, a beer must conform to the Reinheitsgebot (the German beer purity law), which dictates a minimum of 6% alcohol (by comparison, America’s Budweiser has 5%). The beer must also be brewed within the city limits of Munich.

    Märzen gets its name from the last month in which the beer was traditionally brewed. Before refrigeration, March was the last month that beers could be “lagered,” or put in cold storage. The beers would then age during the summer, to be enjoyed by fall harvest.

     

    Brats and German potato salad: classic
    Oktoberfest fare. Photo by Rudi Sills | IST.

     

    HAVE AN OKTOBERFEST PARTY

    Other cities around the world hold their own Oktoberfests, and you can do your own on a small scale: Gather the beer and the refreshments and call your beer-loving friends.

    Oktoberfest beer is typically enjoyed with a variety of traditional German foods. Märzen’s rich roasted malt character pairs perfectly with traditional brats and roasted meats. The roasty malts also complement and mellow the sweetness of desserts with similar flavors, like the caramel richness of crème brûlée, a caramel sundae or blondies (not Oktoberfest traditions).

    Here’s our guide to food parings and for throwing an Oktoberfest party.
     
    HOIST A STEIN

    Each Oktoberfest season, Samuel Adams hosts a National Stein Hoisting Competition at thousands of bars, eateries and festivals nationwide.

     

    The two hoisters who hold their steins up the longest—one male and one female—will be crowned the Samuel Adams National Stein Hoisting Champions and win a trip for two to Oktoberfest 2014 in Munich, Germany.

    Stein hoisting events will be hosted at Oktoberfest celebrations in Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Denver, Miami, Nashville, Washington, D.C., among other places, from now through October 20. Visit SamuelAdams.com for full event listings.
     
    HOW MANY TYPES OF BEER CAN YOU NAME?

    Check out the different types of beer in our Beer Glossary.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Martini With A Side Of Olives

    Our friend Ron and his daughter Stephanie like to order their Martinis with extra olives. The restaurant generally delivers the side of olives in a shot glass.

    Joining them in this tradition inspired today’s two-part tip:

  • Use your liqueur glasses or shot glasses to serve extra olives to your Martini-loving friends.
  • Serve a variety of olives and let guests decide which they prefer with their Martinis.
  •  
    When a pitted, pimento-stuffed olive was first used to garnish a Martini, the olive selection was far less than it is today.

    Today, artisan producers offer more than a dozen stuffed olive options:

  • Cheese:* blue, cheddar, feta, smoked gouda
  • Fish & Meat: anchovy, chorizo, salmon, tuna
  • Fruit & Vegetables: garlic, lemon peel, onion, orange peel, pimiento
  • Heat: habanero, jalapeño
  • Nuts: almonds
  •  

    Martini with a side of olives. Photo courtesy Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

     
    Check out the stuffed olives from Mezzetta, and browse Amazon.com for other stuffed olive options.

    Then, start mixing. The classic Martini proportion is is 1 part London dry gin to .25 part dry vermouth. Shake with ice and strain into a Martini glass. Don’t have Martini glasses? Try a small wine goblet.
     
    *We’ve had some pretty disappointing cheese-stuffed olives: The cubes of cheese have been rubbery and almost tasteless. If you have that experience, look for Divina and Mezzetta brands.

     

    The classic Martini olive is stuffed with
    pimento. Photo by Kyle May | Wikimedia.

     

    THE HISTORY OF THE MARTINI

    While the drink may date back to Gold Rush-era San Francisco, in 1850, a claim is made by the city of Martinez, California, northwest of San Francisco.

    The claim is that the Martinez—the predecessor of the Martini—was created there, by a bartender named Julio Richelieu. The recipe called for gin and sweet vermouth instead of dry vermouth, plus bitters and an olive. A recipe for the Martinez was first published in 1867, in “The Bartenders Guide.”

    A 1907 cocktail recipe book, “The World’s Drinks and How to Mix Them,” is the first printed reference we have for a Dry Martini Cocktail. Made with gin and dry French vermouth, served with lemon peel and an olive. It credits a bartender 375 miles south of Martinez, in Los Angeles.

    Here’s more on the history of the Martini—including James Bond and the Martini.

     

      

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