Sunday, January 8, 2012

Hostess with the Mostess!

For me, the question of What to Do for New Year’s always has a weird sort of angst to it, although I'd never admit it. When December rolls around, I start to think, “Ugh – here comes New Year’s…” as opposed to, “YEA! It's almost New Year’s! What should I do?” Maybe it has to do with the great expectations placed upon the evening, not in a Dickensian way, but more in a social pressure kinda way. I even received a FB message from a friend which said, "HAPPY NEW YEAR, LOVER! Have a blast tonight! I know you'll be doing something fabulous! xo!" So was it fabulous, you ask? Well, let me first share some memorable Eves Past (keeping with the Charlie D tone).

My first noteworthy New Year’s was in the land of "what happens here stays here.” I must say, if you're up for a night of crrrrrazy and crazies, Viva Las Vegas is the place to be on New Year’s Eve, especially if you're pre-kids. The best part about it is that no reservations are required in order to have fun. Almost every lobby features a live band and dancing, you're allowed to coast from casino to casino (drink in hand!), and at 12AM, the entire town walks onto the Strip to watch the over-the-top display of fireworks, compliments of the hotels. Fun, Fun, Fun with a capital F! (For the record, dinner on that New Year's Eve was not at a 3 star restaurant but rather a burger joint. I had the best burger I've eaten thus far in my beef-eating life, betta than DB Bistro's Burger, which was pretty darn good when they first opened. This simple feast was had at the Burger Bar. So, in case you find yourself in "Sin City" and are cravin' the patty of patties, you'll find it at the Mandalay Bay Hotel!)

Another New Year’s experience was much more laid back. It was with my boys at the Tanque Verde Ranch in Tuscon, AZ. At 9PM, the Ranch hosts a party for the guests in one of their large banquet rooms.
They have a DJ and – wait for it – B-I-N-G-OOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Bingo and bowling are two things that can make you chuckle when you play them, but only if they’re not staples of your typical Saturday night.

Then there was Times Square – bar none, one of my favorite New Year’s Eves ever! The best kept New Year’s Eve secret in NYC is Tony's of Times Square. You don't go to Tony’s for the food (although it's not bad – it's just not Babbo, or my latest and most favorite Italian restaurant in NYC, L'artusi), but food isn’t the draw on New Year’s – action is! And, if you have a bit of wine snobbery in you the way I do, Tony will even allow you to BYOB, which is a great way to ensure that the juice you'll be drinking will be primo

What really makes Tony’s a hot ticket on New Year’s Eve is the entertainment. Tony hires Broadway performers
to dazzle the audience for two hours, then, at 11:45, everyone is escorted to the middle of Times Square, right smack where the million-plus others are standing to watch the ball drop and the confetti float down. Since 2005, the crowd finishes
the moment by singing John Lennon’s “Imagine” (something to be a part of once in your's also one of those moments that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside). My year, we kept the party going by heading over to the W NY on Lexington. We hung out in the lounge where a hottie DJ turned the lobby into the nightclub of nightclubs, drank champagne and laughed until the wee hours! The extra bonus was it was only an elevator ride home.

(Quick history lesson: Dropping the ball in Times Square has been taking place since 12/31/1907, and the ball itself is made of Waterford Crystal. The original name of Times Square was Longacre Square; however, the New York Times headquarters was located at One Longacre Square – now One Times Square – which, in 1904, was the second tallest building in Manhattan. The powers that be at the paper convinced the city to rename the triangular "square" after their publication. In1904, they were granted their request, and to celebrate, the paper’s owner decided to shoot off fireworks from the roof on December 31, 1904, with 200,000 people in attendance. By 1907, the ball was added to draw more attention to the newly named landmark, and a tradition was born!)

This New Year’s was low-key. I was invited to my WFF (wine food friend) Marilice's home. Hands down, she wins the award for being the Hostess with the Mostess! Cleverly, she brought together a great mix of people, which is always the main ingredient for a successful party. Then, of course, there's the food and wine. Not having a sit down dinner was also the way to go, but what I loved even more was that she asked her guests, including yours truly, to bring their favorite dish. It was an evening of non-stop tasty goodies…

Here is where I need to take a brief pause. You know how I rave about my meatballs, and how the only other meata-balls I’ve ever liked were Joanie Menachell's mom's? (For those of you who are new to my blog, Joanie is my childhood friend from the Island of Staten.) Well, Debbie-Marilice's buddy - made her meatballs for Marilice's shindig ...I ATE TWO! TWO! I then nonchalantly asked her what was in those marvelous meatballs that threatened my title of The Greatest Meatball-Maker of Them All. It was obvious that she had had quite a bit of the Rosé Billicart-Salmon that I brought, because she divulged her recipe in a snap. I struggled, however, to understand the exact measurements of most of the ingredients. For the record, my lack of comprehension had nothing to do with auditory malfunctioning on my part; instead, her speech seemed to be impaired. (I’m kidding…she wasn't slurring. At least, not so much that anyone else noticed ;-0!)

Since it was unseasonably warm, Wayne, Marilice's husband (and a great man in his own right) barbecued shrimp, lamb and beef skewers. For the third time in 2011, I opened the 2008 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, and it showed just as great as it had the first time. (Btw, it was a nice accompaniment to the beef skewers, and will be the last time I have it for a while as I am curious to see how it will cellar/age over the next five years.) One of Wayne’s friends created a smorgasbord of caviar, salmon, prosciutto and hummus along with a bunch of other wonderful fixins too numerous to recall.
Since I'm dieting, I made my favorite salad with apples, endive, celery, cucumber, etc., all mixed together with an olive oil agave dressing. Feeling a bit playful, I brought my popcorn popper to make truffle popcorn, and, last but not least, a 1970 Taylor Port with dark chocolate for dessert…for me, there is no better end to a meal than a glass of port and a piece of chocolate.

We played pool, ate, drank, talked movies and theater and told jokes. Then, as many American households do, we gathered around the TV (or in this case, flat screen), and watched the ball drop. Not as magical as being there, but very special in its own right... thank you, Wayne and Marilice, for inviting me to your fabulous home, and for giving me a truly special and memorable New Year’s Eve to add to my list of The Greats.