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essentials

ENTERTAINING HOLIDAY entertaining

Cocktail Party Essentials

glamorous drink station

drinkware

Holiday party season is in full swing. Whether you’re hosting family and friends for dinner, neighbours during an afternoon open house or a glamorous New Year’s Eve gathering, consider upgrading your existing bar accessories or invest in these essentials pre-party. A well-appointed bar with all the tools of the trade will help you quench all of your guest’s drink requests.

Stylish Glassware

Even if you’re well-stocked with a variety of glassware styles, these fun and festive options will have your guests lining up to claim their cup. Check department stores for other seasonal options that are likely already on sale.

Cocktail Shaker

Cocktail shakers

A cocktail shaker is essential for creating martinis and other mixed drinks. You can find inexpensive, basic shakers at most kitchen and department stores. Personalize this vintage-inspired shaker from Pottery Barn with a frosted glass monogram. For a statement shaker you’ll want to leave on display, consider this gorgeous, but pricey, stainless steel Bauhaus design by Alessi.

Large Tray or Bar Cart

glamorous drink station

Use a tray, or bar cart to create a serving station and keep bar tools and glassware corralled. You can also re-purpose an existing console table or your dining table for the occasion.

airy modern drink station in white and blue

Style at Home proposed an airy, modern take on the drink station that would be perfect for New Year’s Eve.

Sticks and Picks

Cocktail picks and coasters

Cocktail picks are great for garnishes and do double-duty as stir sticks. My “pick” for a holiday party? This stainless steel set topped with jingle bells from Crate and Barrel.

Coasters

Coasters are a must to protect furniture and other valuables from glassware. There are sets to fit every party theme and decor, from glass to ceramic to pretty letterpressed paper.

SOURCING:
+ Winter Tree Stemless Glassware $25 USD at West Elm
+ Mr. and Mrs. Highball Glasses by Furbish Studio $18 USD (set of 2)
Bauhaus Cocktail Shaker by Alessi $388 USD at Unica Home
+ Hotel Cocktail Shaker $29 USD at Pottery Barn
+ Drink Station by Lulu Powers for Lonny magazine – December 2010 issue – photo by Patrick Cline
Small Space Cocktail Party Planner by Style at Home – photo by Michael Graydon
+ Jingle Bell Picks $10.95 USD (set of 6) at Crate & Barrel
+ Letterpress Coasters by Red Bird Ink $10 USD (set of 4) on Etsy

COOKING tools FOOD + DRINK

Three Progressive nifty kitchen gadgets

Pop-Out Measuring Cups : Onion Chopper : Collapsible Over-the-Sink Colander by Progressive

I enjoy cooking with the right tools. There are always new gadgets coming around. Some that I find useless, others can be great but do not interested me because I developed a technique over the years that I am pleased with.

Others kitchen tools are fun to have while a select group makes it to the must-have category. I will go as far as to replace mine with these but if I have to get new ones these three by Progressive will make my short list.

The Pop-Out Measuring Cups

First of all, the numbers are written for an aging population in mind and the fact that kids want to help you in the kitchen. These silicone cups are flexible, which allows you to push out the ingredients instead of having to scrape them. The Pop-Out Measuring Cups nest for storage like the traditional measuring cups.

The Onion Chopper

I got great knifes and an excellent mandoline. But with sensitive eyes, the no tear factor is worth the expense if you have the cupboard space. A handy enclosed container with non-skid feet doubles as a measuring cup and holds up to 2 cups of chopped onions.

Collapsible Over-the-Sink Colander

The adjustable handle fits most sinks. I like it because it frees your hand when you are washing fruits and vegetables. It seems to be small enough to leave out free space on the sink if you got a normal sized single sink.

I told you before my love affair with colanders and strainers. But colanders are bulky item to store. That is why I like the idea of a collapsible one.

I own a few tools by Progressive. I enjoy my silicone tip tongs. Their products are well made. When you are buying silicone products, be aware of lower grade silicone. That will not happen with the Progression product line.

Sourcing:
Learn more: Web site of Progressive International

COOKING tools FOOD + DRINK

Five cool kitchen gadgets for the Hostess who has everything

Chef\'n Palm Vegetable Brush

New more efficient food preparation tools pop up constantly. If you are invited by someone that like to cook and you do not know what to bring as a hostess gift, why not take a look at the best of the crop in specialized kitchen tools. My hostess gift ideas are all under 30 dollars.

I select Sur La Table online store because they got a nice selection. You can also stop at a local shop that specialized in fine cooking. I like to support my local independent retailers because these small shop owners are often passionate and they bring us more innovative and well designed products.

Vegetable brushes are often awkward to hold. This one called Chef’n Palm Vegetable Brush let you slip your middle finger so that the head rests in your palm. At $4.95 USD each, you can stock up a few Chef’n Palm Vegetable brushes and get helpers at the food preparation station.

Invented by a surgeon, Van Vacter Avocado Knife is neat. You can do it all with this avocado multiple blades knife. The serrated stainless steel blade cuts through tough peel, the sharp spikes quickly remove pit, the rounded tip quickly slices and dices while the flat side of blade removes the peel. The Van Vacter Avocado Knife is sold for $19.95 USD.

Van Vacter Avocado Knife Avocado Slicer by Progressive :: stainless steel

The Avocado Slicer by Progressive is another great tool. It is a must to nicely plate your avocado for a salad. If you make your own guacamole, the avocado speeds up the process because it slices and removes the peel in one movement. This product is widely available in stores for $14.95 USD.

colorful die cast aluminum citrus squeezers

I took the Avocado Slicer picture from Cooking.com, an online store that I recommend because I always got a great service from them. Customers of Cooking.com wrote lots of product reviews to help you make your choice. Sur La Table carries the same Avocado Slicer but their picture was not as nice.

These colorful die cast aluminum squeezers let you neatly press out pure juice and leave behind seeds and pulp out of citrus halves. I do not know about this particular brand but I know that this technique is appreciated by many cooks. There is one for lime, one for lemon and one for orange. These citrus squeezers start at $12.95 USD. Because you need three, I will give these to someone with a large kitchen.

If you are looking for a high-end hostess gift, take a look at David Rocco’s Dolce Vitae Olive wood collection. The Lemon Reamer got my vote of appreciation. There are many wood lemon reamers out there, many that are a lot cheaper but the Dolce Vitae Lemon Reamer has an authentic look and feel that makes it a first-class hostess gift.

Olive wood lemon reamer by David Rocco\'s Dolce Vitae

The David Rocco’s Dolce Vitae Olive wood Lemon Reamer retail price is $29 CAD. This collection is only available in Canada for the moment. The products are imported from Italy. I located two shops in Montreal and Toronto where you can find the DRDV olive wood collection:

Cuisine Gourmet – 2 locations in Montreal:
– 2005 rue Drummond 514.845.0372
– Centre Rockland 514.344.6190
Junors at Bayview Village Shopping Center , Toronto 416.223.0910

Buy online: Chef’n Palm Vegetable Brushes at Sur La Table
Buy online: Van Vacter Avocado Knife at Sur La Table
Buy online: Citrus Juicers at Sur La Table
Buy online: Avocado Slicer by Progressive at Cooking.com
Get info on: David Rocco’s Dolce Vitae Olive wood Lemon Reamer on David Rocco’s Web site

RELATED POSTS:
+ Blown Glass Kitchen Tools
+ Comfort Food Christmas Gift Ideas

FOOD + DRINK TABLEWARE

Any hostess needs at least one tasteful apron

I have a love affair with aprons since I started to cook in my teens. But finding a good looking one is a hard task. My love affair with aprons is well known fact. My brother gave me one or two aprons over the years for Christmas or my birthday. He even got me a practical gardening apron that I use when I planting my flower boxes.

I discover domistyle long time ago in a Sweetspot.ca newsletter. I fall in love with their funky aprons right away. Two young women started domistyle out of unfulfilled desires. Like me, Jessica and Vanessa did not find in stores aprons that were cool enough for a stylish hostess. They create two lines for women in 2003. Since them, they add a fun collection for kids.

Called Fresh and Funky, their two collections are best described with the words sleek, sophisticated, feminine and fun. Canadian and US retailers are listed on their web site. The aprons are sold for $39 CAD, the mini-aprons are at $32 and the kid aprons at $30.

You can add a free embroidered message by shopping at some of the online stores listed on the home page. The happy modernist in me selected the funky dots pattern just like it is. I played the Gourmet Goddess with an organic flair by wearing the clean flower design of my Baby Blue Mocha apron.

Aprons for Kids

The mini apron collection brings even more of your feminine side to the table. Perfect for when you entertaining intimate dinners. Some are a shorter version of the Fresh and Funky collections. For a girlie girl, I suggest the Meshy Mini. It is a delicate see-through mesh bib with dainty pink bows and a pink ribbon binding.

These funky aprons have been featured by Style at Home, Elle, House & Home, Lucky and Wish Magazines, Designer Guys, Metro, National Post, Now, Toronto Star, Sweetspot.ca, and the Toronto Sun.

Link: domistyle web site

FOOD + DRINK TABLEWARE

Casual luxury in household linens with Simrin

Dish towels are a necessity but we indulge ourselves by getting groovy ones. If you put them on display in your kitchen, the typical brands from Wal-Mart or the supermarkets won’t do.

Household linens can set the mood of a table and a kitchen. If you dinnerware are monochromatic without patterns, you can use geometric, organic, bold graphic textiles for your tablecloths and napkins. This is part of the new wave to set up a table.

Finding cool dish towels that are part of larger household linen collections is a dream comes true. That is what you got with Simrin. Introduced last year, we did not know yet of any stores that carry the brands. Hostess with the Mostess blog, a fan, discovers that you can get the surya collection at Plum Party. Tablecloths, table runners, napkins and kitchen towels are available in chartreuse, aqua, brown and orange.

The catalogue of Simrin speaks in these terms about their design

Inspired by vintage fabrics, organic forms in nature and algorithmic patterns, these three distinct collections create standout prints in complimentary colors perfect for mixing or matching. A combination of metallic inks, embroidery and hand screen-printing make each one unique.

On the entertaining front, luxurious household linen items make great hostess gifts or housewarming gifts. As long as your choice shows consideration for her taste and the style of her kitchen ware, the hostess will feel pampered by your gift.

Link: Surya collection by Simrin available at Plum Party online store
Via: hooray! Simrin at Plum Party! on Hostess with the Mostess blog