A New Year ushers in hope, good cheer, and (hopefully) lots of comfort food to keep those of us who haven’t headed South warm on the inside. Luckily, even during the dead of winter, area chefs, caterers, and mixologists come to our rescue with many suggestions. Woodstock and New York City resident and caterer extraordinaire Mary Giuliani got a head start on serving up comfort food ideas with the launch of her book The Cocktail Party: Eat Drink Play Recover (Ballantine Books, 2015) at a signing at Rhinebeck’s bluecashew Kitchen Pharmacy. The book offers dozens of party and drink ideas brimming with witticisms, clever themes, and recipes (three of which are featured below) that are packed with nostalgia. (“Bites that feel like home,” the author says.)
“I encourage my clients to think out of the box and out of the budget,” Giuliani continues. “A party is a type of escape, a dream, a fantasy. The moment you take all the barriers away, some pretty magical party ideas arise. We’ve turned garages into discos, damp basements into romantic wine dinners, and even hid a dining table in the woods for a party adventure.” Or dream up your own gathering — perhaps a proper British bash to celebrate the return of Downton Abbey on January 3. Or go ’60s style with a pigs-in-a-blanket station with ketchup, relish, sauerkraut, and other fixings.
The book includes a stress-busting party calculator so you know how many hors d’oeuvres, nibbles, and drinks your guests are likely to consume. She also tells how to pair food and drink. “I like the drink to complement the food with salty and sweet,” she says. Whatever you decide, you’ll be in good company.
Mentor, friend, and famed restaurateur Mario Batali wrote the book’s foreword. “He’s taught me that simple can be extraordinary when it comes to entertaining and cooking,” Giuliani says. Among her loyal clientele: Bradley Cooper and Stella McCartney.