Contrary to what some from outside of our area believe, holiday entertaining isn’t all lutefisk and grape salad. Pulling together sophisticated appetizers for holiday entertaining takes only minutes with a little shopping ahead of time.
There are several local outlets for stopping and grabbing all locally made, artisanal products. The Surdyk’s cheese shop has so much more than just the gooey, funky stuff and a proximity to fabulous wine. Local D’Lish was hip and local in the North Loop before the neighborhood exploded in coolness and is stocked with a million food products you didn’t know you couldn’t live without. On an industrial stretch of road is tucked away Sunrise Market for a taste of the Iron Range with porketta, pasties and potitcas. Or, if you prefer to shop in the comfort of your own home, Yumzar is a local website stocking locally made products that will be delivered right to your door.
It’s arguable that Golden Fig on Grand Avenue led this trend of shops. Owner Laurie Crowell once worked at the storied Barefoot Contessa. Her shop, much like Ina Garten’s one time Hampton’s spot, is a artisanal food wonderland and they are liberal with the samples. No matter reason for your holiday gathering, this shop stocks products to take the stress out of prep.
Sledding, skiing and skating fest:
That cocoa is mandatory and the gourmet mixes available here put that Swiss chick to shame. Top with plush, handmade marshmallows and garnish with peppermint sticks. Serve along sandy little cookies topped with rosemary. Pop a little Tiny But Mighty popcorn and toss with some crushed smoked sea salt and butter.
Quick cocktail hour:
Grab a packet of Crowell’s Oops Mix, a dip that was created completely by accident, but has since become one of the most popular mixes sold. Pair with Potter’s crackers, Marieke gouda and sliced vegetables. Pick up some pomegranate mix, spiked with a little lavender and mix champagne (or bubble water for a refreshing n/a drink). Also pick up a bottle of Jack Ruby tonic mix and Bittercube bitters for sophisticated gin and tonics. Not sure what else to drink? There’s a dice game for that. Roll the dice and pick spirits, herbs, garnishes and bitters perfect for new flavor discoveries.
Pancake mix is your friend and there are several varieties from whole wheat, gluten free or cranberry spiked. Pair with local maple syrup or the Blis bourbon barrel aged good stuff. Gerhart’s sausages might be cheddar stuffed brats, but this is a holiday brunch. We don’t abide by rules! They are so good first thing in the morning. Grab Nan’s bloody Mary mix and a jar of caraway spiked pickles and a bottle of limeaid mixer for beverages.
Entertaining the hipster youth (and their parents):
Kids aren’t going to have school for a serious stretch of time. Stock up and invite those other bored parents over for a mix and match vintage and local sodas. None of these sodas have any of the dreaded High Fructose Corn Syrup. Serve Reginald’s apple peanut butter sandwiches for lunch. In case they aren’t hopped up on enough sugar, pair with Rustica’s unreal chewy chocolate cookies. Balance the sweet with salt, with a selection of Barsy’s Stuffies and Smokies almonds. Add in a bag of Whole Grain Milling Co.’s tortilla chips (that use only non-GMO corn) and American Spoon’s pumpkin seed salsa—possibly the best store bought salsa on the market.