Read below for 6 key ingredients to add a French Chic feel to your New Year’s Eve party.
Before I launched lechefswife.com I was graciously invited by the fabulous Ashleigh of @pearlslaceandgrace to write a guest post for her blog about how to host a French themed New Year’s Eve party. I was so intimidated, it took forever for me to write the post! I knew absolutely nothing about blogging and this was the first time I would be sharing my writing with people I didn’t know… so scary! I found this post the other day and thought it was time to dust it off and bring it back, just in time for New Years. I hope you enjoy!
French Themed New Year’s Eve Party
My favorite New Year’s Eves in France were always the ones celebrated in someone’s home. A carefully curated group of people with just the right mix of new and old friends. Everyone dressed up, yet the vibe remains laid back and intimate. A beautiful way to ring in a New Year!
The French are masters of the art of simple elegance and, over the years I began to recognize that most New Year’s Eve parties, like a classic recipe, included the same ingredients. The key to being a gracious host is in sticking with what you know and can do well so that you are unstressed and available to your guests. Choose the best quality of ingredients you can afford but then keep it simple. Le Chef always says “ Simple, mais BON!” (simple, but good!)
Classic French New Year’s Eve Ingredients:
- Foie Gras
Depending on the size of your party you can choose to serve the meal seated at a dinner table or else buffet style so that people can mix and mingle. I recommend inviting guests to arrive from 8:30pm onwards. You don’t want your New Year’s Eve party to start too early and have the champagne, and the ambiance, fall flat before midnight!
A must! The French enjoy Champagne all year round, but New Year’s Eve is truly a time to drink Champagne all night long! Now, in France, there is a much larger selection of Champagne at varying prices than is available in North America. For those of us who do not want to spend a fortune on Champagne for the evening, I suggest starting the party with a “Kir Royal”. Splash a little bit of Crème de Cassis (available at any liquor store) into a glass of dry sparkling wine, et voilà! You have yourself an elegant and festive cocktail that feels oh so French. If you live in Northern Virginia, you probably love Total Wine as much as I do. We always have a few bottles of La Margerie Champagne stocked in our house – incredibly tasty and under 40$
The French love their oysters and swear by the ones from Brittany and the West Coast of France. Fortunately, we have a wide variety of exceptional oysters available to us in North America. You should have seen my French husband’s face when I brought him to Vancouver for the first time to try Kusshi Oysters! Ooh la la! He was in Chef’s Heaven!
I recommend preparing 6-8 oysters per person and please, do yourself a favor and enlist the help of strong friends with good knife skills and lots of patience to help shuck the oysters before the party begins. You don’t want to be alone in the kitchen wielding an oyster knife and splattering bits of shell and brine all over your best party outfit. Oysters take time, plan accordingly and then put the little rascals on ice while you pour yourself a glass of champagne.
There is something so beautiful about a slice of smoked salmon on a perfect little blinis with a dollop of crème fraîche. The richness of the food marries perfectly with crisp, dry champagne. You can either buy ready-made blinis at the grocery store or else they can be made in advance. Essentially, they are small, bite-sized pancakes that are served chilled. Top each pancake with a slice of smoked salmon and finish with a dollop of crème fraîche (or sour cream). Now, here is where you can get creative! Arrange the smoked salmon pancakes out on a tray and then alternate the garnishes. Perhaps you want to add some fennel on top? A mini slice of lemon? Caviar? Amusez-vous!
Le Foie Gras
Un grand Classique! Finding good Foie-Gras is difficult in North America, but not impossible. Go to the deli selection of the finest grocery store in your area and look for a jar of “Foie Gras Cuit” (cooked foie gras). Some specialty butcher shops also carry good foie gras that they make themselves. Some places no longer carry Foie Gras, in which case Duck or Chicken Liver Mousse is an agreeable alternative. Place the Foie Gras on a cutting board surrounded by an assortment of crackers and some fig jam, et voilà! A key ingredient to a French themed New Year’s Eve Party.
A well designed cheese platter is an art form. But like many things French, if you understand the guidelines it is easy to excel! I usually aim for 4-6 cheeses on my cheese board and a nice mix of soft to hard cheeses, with varying degrees of staunch. The French are less enthused by all the condiments we North Americans like to put on a cheese board and really just like to keep it simple. Good cheese, crusty baguette and maybe some honey and fig jam as accents, c’est tout!
Start with a good fresh Chèvre (Chèvre Frais) then add a hard but mild cheese such as a Tome de Savoie or a Comte. Now add a strong cheddar or a Mimolette. Place a spoon in to a Mont D’Or. Add a wheel of ripe Camembert and finish it all with a slab of Roquefort! Most importantly, cheeses need to be room temperature. Make sure to take them out an hour before your guests arrive. Yes, the place may smell of cheese, but oh! what cheese!
Last, but certainly not least, give yourself a gift and order “Une tour de Macarons”, or Macaron Tower, from a pastry shop. The multi-colored pastel pastry morsels will be a party favorite and are immediately Instagram-worthy. Macarons have become very popular in recent years and I have even seen Macarons available at Safeway! A more budget friendly way to serve Macarons is also to buy them individually and then arrange them on plates of different heights on your table (an afternoon tea stand works beautifully as well) Now, there are Macarons, and then there are Ladurée Macarons. If there is a Ladurée in your area I invite you to go and taste the difference. These macarons melt in your mouth and are not too sweet.
Et voilà! As you can see, hosting an elegant New Year’s Eve Reception “à la Française” is less about being a Michelin starred Chef and more about assembling the right ingredients. I encourage you to host your own French themed New Year’s Eve party and tell me all about it!
Blog post originally appeared on December 28th 2016 at https://pearlslaceandgrace.com/2016/12/28/a-fabulously-chic-french-new-years-eve/