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5 hassle-free holiday hosting ideas

Once the “ber” months really go into full swing, a game of celebratory roulette comes into play — that ubiquitous round robin among friends of Christmas parties, holiday cocktails and homecoming get-togethers begins and inevitably it’s your turn. Hosting duties are always fun but not always easy, as the “ber” months also mean piled-on work and tying up loose ends before the end of the year. Here are some great ideas for virtually hassle-free entertaining, where you barely have to lift a finger and everything you need is just a call or click away!

The luxurious merienda

Bring out that inherited silver tea set and invite your old school friends over for a boozy and luxurious afternoon get-together. Make little bite-sized sandwiches using Nicole Ortega’s latest spread under her new luxe label “Silver Platter.” Nicole’s newest creation is a delicious and decadent take on a classic chicken spread using generous pieces of chicken whipped into a creamy cheese base dotted with sweet cranberries and a heady mix of fresh truffle. You can also order a batch of her famous Cheese Pimiento for that satisfying, comfort-food fix. Throw in some mini-eclairs and sweet tarts from Eric Kayser and you are good to go! Don’t forget a well-chilled bottle of bubbly! For orders, contact 0927-485-3399.

The apero hour

Make it à la Parisienne and forgo the heavy meal or even plates and cutlery, for that matter. Take inspiration from the City of Lights’ practice of winding the day down and beginning the evening with drinks and nibbles, ultimately getting full enough to just carry on drinking to the wee hours of the morning discussing politics, philosophy, love and conquest.

Aperitif offers beautifully presented “grazing” platters customized to fit the size of your group and budget — an assortment of cheese, cold cuts, nuts, honey and jams, crackers, breads, and other delightful bites all ready for immediate nibbling. And because we can’t seem to escape our sweet tooth, they offer dessert stations as well.

Aperitif has such an amazing, Instagram-worthy presentation that you don’t even need to buy flowers! The only thing missing is the booze. Pick up a few bottles of a crowd-pleasing New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, an easy-drinking Grenache-based red and your favorite beer.

Having a big crowd over? Call Engkanto Brewery and inquire about their keg setups at 0998-998-2017 or email sales@napagapa.com. Contact Aperitif PH at 0917-573-7171 or IG @aperitif.ph.

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Raclette night

Who doesn’t love that ooey, gooey, stinky, melty cheese over potatoes? One of my secret weapons for last-minute hosting duties is to bust out my raclette maker and let guests cook for themselves. Don’t forget the traditional condiments: boiled potatoes, cornichons and pickled onions. You can also add some air-dried beef or bresaola and some grilled sausages if you’re looking for something heavier. I almost always have a green salad on hand just to refresh the palate. Arrange things nicely for easy serving. If even boiling potatoes is too much of a hassle, you can simply call Raclette Manila and they’ll do it all for you. Try serving a Chenin Blanc or Pinot Noir with your raclette. Contact Raclette Manila at raclettemnl@gmail.com or IG @raclettemnl.

The intimate wine & cheese-pairing party

This is a great idea for smaller groups of 10 or so people. Have a selection of six cheeses aptly paired with wines. Chèvre with a Sauvignon Blanc, Roquefort with a Sauterne, Manchego with Rioja... all it takes is a bit of quick research on the Internet to find some classic pairings. Aim for a different variety of hard and soft cheeses from different kinds of milk and even different countries.  Create mini tasting stations with the cheese next to the corresponding wine, along with some tasting notes or funny quotes. 

To make things more interesting, serve them with these artisanal cheese-pairing jams by Grace Baja, a.k.a. “The Spoiled Mummy.” Her latest line, called “Taste by Grace Home” also carries two delicious cheese spreads: Quattro Formaggio with Pink Peppercorn and Manchego Curado with Almonds, as well as a buttery-smooth Chicken Liver Pâté with Pistachios.  Don’t forget to serve a big bowl of green salad for digestion! Contact Taste by Grace Home at 0906-361-8374.

The porchetta party

Some of us can’t live on cheese and cold cuts alone and need heftier nosh. Also, there isn’t any real celebration if you don’t have that iconic lechon, right? Here’s a fresh take on that tradition: order the scrumptious Roast Pork Belly of Dulce Magat Gibb. Golden, crisp skin that crackles and crunches, yielding to a super-soft, falling-off-the-bone meat. Absolute heaven. Presented on a chopping board adorned with leaves and with bottles of mustard, applesauce and lingon berry preserve, all you really have to do is carve.

Serve this with some sliced ciabatta and a big bowl of arugula for guests to make their own yummy little porchetta sandwiches. You could throw in an Asian option with cuapao buns, some hoisin sauce and Sriracha, fresh cilantro leaves, spring onions and cucumber. I would serve this with a crisp, dry Riesling for a refreshing contrast to the rich pork. Contact A Table by Dulce Magat Gibb at 0917-862-1800.

If you don’t even have time to go out and buy wine, you can order online at www.manilapremierewines.com and www.boozy.ph.

Because it’s always nice to have something that you’ve made yourself, try serving a homemade caviar terrine, always a hit at my parties and incredibly easy to make!

Recipe File: Caviar Terrine

Ingredients:

225 grams plain cream cheese

2 hardboiled eggs, cold or room temperature

1 package of black lumpfish caviar

1 small red onion, finely minced

2 lemons

1 bunch of fresh dill

Crackers or Melba toasts for serving

Procedure:

In a food processor, whip together the cream cheese, hardboiled eggs and some fresh dill leaves. You may season with some ground black pepper if desired, but it’s not necessary. Transfer the mixture into a bowl and fold in the minced red onion. Assemble the pie using a ring mold, directly on the serving plate or on top of an appropriate-sized cake board. Place a layer of the cream cheese mixture, then top with a layer of the caviar. Cover and chill. Before serving, carefully remove the mold. Cut one of the lemons in half lengthwise and make thin, half-moon slices. Use these to garnish the sides of the caviar pie. Garnish with a large sprig of dill on top and serve with some lemon wedges and crackers or Melba toasts. 

For an even simpler version, use a nice glass or silver dish and make a caviar terrine instead by spreading the cream cheese mixture on the bottom, then topping with caviar, a lemon slice and dill garnish. That way guests can just dip their crackers directly into the bowl.

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