FOOD & DINING
adding simple ingredients to the sparkling wine, such as peaches for a Bellini, orange juice for a Mimosa, creme de cassis for a Kir Royal, or simply a sugar cube sprinkled with bitters for a Classic Champagne Cocktail,” she said. If you’re serving a crowd, finger foods that don’t require utensils can make eating while socializing easier. Use serving platters and napkins with a festive theme — they make for good conversation starters among guests. Other ways to enjoy your own holiday party, Vergason advised, without pulling your hair out, include: • Set the tone for your party with festive music before your guests arrive. That will ensure that everyone is in a good mood from the very start of the holiday party! • Always have plenty of ice on hand. • Do not forget non-alcoholic drinking options. • Most importantly, keep it simple and remember that the reason for the holiday party is to celebrate the season with friends and family.
MEATS, BREADS AND BEYOND FROM LOCAL SHOPS Brown often helps harried holiday hosts set an impressive spread, from heritage turkeys (the ancestors of today’s common turkey found in supermarkets) to a “pretty unique fruit and nut bread,” with apricots and raisins that makes a nice accompaniment to a cheese board. Meat is often at the center of a holiday meal. At the butcher shop Let’s Meat on the Avenue in Del Ray, butcher Taylor Hudnall said
alexandrialivingmagazine.com • November / December 2018
the shop sells “an awful lot of sirloin roast, known these days as strip loin.” “Everybody in Alexandria turns into Charles Dickens during the holidays,” he said. The boneless strip loin is an “absolutely gorgeous” choice for a holiday party or dinner, he noted, that “ought to be right up there with standing rib. It looks like a woodcut from a Dickens novel.” Let’s Meat carries Allen Brothers turkeys, and a lot of people come by for their Kelly Bronze Turkey, “a fancy heritage breed, the Rolls Royce of turkeys at about $13 a pound,” Hudnall said. “Supposedly, that’s the turkey you’ll find on the Queen of England’s table.” The turkeys come with herbs and a free timer. “No one has ever not come back the next year for them,” he said. If you’re looking to make your holiday breakfast extra special, go for Nueske’s bacon — “it’s out of Wisconsin and is the best we’ve found,” Hudnall advised. A holiday meal or party wouldn’t be complete without something sweet. In addition to the ever-popular freshly baked pumpkin, pecan and apple pies available at Alexandria Pastry Shop at Bradlee shopping center, customers often add a cake to the mix. The Raspberry Marquis, a chocolate mousse cake with fresh fruit, is a stand out. The bakery, which is celebrating 30 years in business this year, offers traditional Buche de Noel, Stollen and gingerbread boys and girls as well as gingerbread houses are also available, said owner Tom Lally. “And we have a hardcore group of about two dozen people who come for mincemeat pie,” he said, noting that their recipe is made without meat.