Special Feature: Products Sally Recommends
Must-Haves for Holiday Entertaining
As a Napa resident and dinner party regular, and the author of the cooking and entertaining book, The Last-Minute Party Girl: Fashionable, Fearless, and Foolishly Simple Entertaining, I’ve learned that truly great entertaining experiences are not only about whose on the guest list and what’s for dinner. It’s also about being a stress-free host, presenting your home, food, and bar options in a beautiful and inviting way, and stocking attractive and high-quality products that make it easy to accomplish the aforementioned objectives. As you gear up for the party season, consider the following entertaining essentials, which also happen to make great gifts.
Dress for Success Why risk ruining your best blouse or holiday sweater while putting the finishing touches on the turkey feast or soufflé finale? Domestique’s imported linen-cotton blend aprons are stylish and sensible ways to keep potential clothing catastrophes at bay. (See www.domestique.com from $33-$80.)
Set the Mood
A candle’s flicker casts a warm glow on any scene and seductive scents only enhance the experience. Add both with the new and very luxurious Alora Ambiance scented candles, which are soy-based for a cleaner burn and stronger fragrance emission, come with a wooden cap-cum-candle-coaster and book of matches, and burn for 50 to 60 hours. (See www.beautyhabit.com; $40 .)
Go for the Gold—or Silver
Add a bit of gilded glamour to your wine or cocktails. The Gold Leaf Company’s edible gold or silver leaf sheets can be tossed in a metal bowl, separated with a fork, and sprinkled into any beverage for gorgeously glimmering results. (Call 718-815-8802 or visit www.goldleafcompany.com; 25 gold sheets $24, 25 silver sheets $12.)
Raise a Glass
Glasses aren’t just for drinks anymore. They can also be used as an elegant way to display appetizers, desserts, flowers, and candies. Stock these Bubble Martini Glasses and you’re equipped whether you’re the next course is a martini, mixed nuts, or ice cream. (CocktailVibe.com; $15 each ).
Uncork with Class
Every good host has a wine opener, but few have as handsome and handy a helper as the new V.I.P. Rabbit Corkscrew. Its sleek design, sexy leather grip pad, and matching storage case make pulling corks that much more fun. (Call Wine Hardware, 659 Main St., St. Helena, 866-611-9463; $125.)
Say Wine and Cheese
The perfect book is Perfect Pairings: A Master Sommelier's Practical Advice for Partnering Wine with Food by Evan Goldstein. Goldstein, a James Beard Award–winning sommelier and author of Five Star Service, tackles the tricky task of pairing wine with food. His practical guide for learning about the different styles of wines (varietals) encourages experimentation and offers hints on how to taste with discernment. Comprehensive chapters on 12 common varietals and sections on sparkling and dessert wines contain the most pertinent facts: regions, top producers, key flavors to look for and ideas for food pairings. (Visit www.amazon.com and pay $19.77; $29.95 at bookstores nationwide.)
Slice with Style
The rounded-edge Japanese-style “Santoku” knife was this year’s hottest way to slice and dice and Global’s new version is not only sleek in its design, but savvy in its balance and precision. The blade with trademark polka dots comes in two sizes—five-and-a-half- and seven-inches. (See www.cooking.com or call Dean & DeLuca, 607 South St. Helena Hwy, St. Helena, 707-967-9980; $56-$84,)
Make It Sweet
There are few better ways to end a meal—or treat yourself or friends anytime—than with decadent sweets. Tracy and John Anderson, previously owners of S. Anderson winery, make gorgeous Napa Valley-made confections at Woodhouse Chocolate (See www.woodhousechocolates.com or visit 1367 Main St., St. Helena, 800-966-3468; $48 per pound). Serve a box as an effortlessly elegant dessert. The Napa General Store ( 540 Main St., Napa, 707-259-0762) carries velvety, flavorful 12-ounce Sterling Truffle Bars ($16.95 each) in festive holiday flavors of cappuccino liqueur or white chocolate raspberry and peppermint. (You can also find them online at www.sterlingtrufflebar.com.) Slice and serve and you’re got an instant beautiful and sweet finale.
To buy Erika Lenkert’s book “The Last-Minute Party Girl” or get answers to your entertaining questions, visit www.lastminutepartygirl.com.