This being my first post of the new year that isn’t a Friday Fourplay column, I should take this opportunity to say that I hope everyone’s 2014 is off to an auspicious beginning. I hope that your New Year’s Eve was off the chain or the hook or whatever it is the young people are saying nowadays. As for Flavorful World, we spent the evening of December 31st, 2013 in New York Style.
As the recipient of a generously food-laden Hostess Basket (though given the presence of my Y-chromosome, I will henceforth refer to it as a “Host Basket”) from gourmet snack company New York Style, I was able to add unanticipated flavors and textures to my New Year’s Eve party menu and discover new treats that I can purchase in the future. Treating each snack as a blank canvas upon which to create something unique, I went to work on my Host Basket containing packages of Cinnabon Sweet Swirls, Chocolate Sweet Swirls, Roasted Garlic Bagel Crisps, Sea Salt Mini Bagels, Sea Salt Pita Chips, and Garlic Parmesan Panetini.
Our New Year’s Eve menu was a seafood-themed affair that included pan-seared sea scallops, cold Toshikoshi soba (end-of-year buckwheat noodles symbolizing longevity in Japanese culture), shrimp nigiri, salmon sashimi, and Crème brûlée for dessert, along with the obligatory copious consumption of cocktails and wine. Fortunate enough to enjoy the company of four wonderful ladies for this New Year’s event, I served each of these foods as a separate course, interspersing them with snacks created using the all-natural contents of my New York Style basket.
First up were the Sea Salt Mini Bagels. I topped these with a spicy salmon salad made with Japanese mayonnaise, green onions, and fried Liberian hot peppers. These piquant, perfectly bite-sized appetizers didn’t last long. This opener proved a bit spicy for some, but that was owed more to my salad than to the mini bagels. They vanished at an encouraging rate just the same. Before I knew it, they were gone and it was on to the next course.
The Garlic Parmesan-flavored Panetini (oven-baked Italian toast) really responded to its topping of creamy Swiss cheese spread and slices of pan-seared sausage. The crunchy thickness of the toast and the bold Asiago and spinach flavors of the sausage I chose added pleasing heft on the palate and lent good structure to the flavor pairing. The panetini’s subtle parmesan and garlic flavors enhanced the combination, putting flesh on its bones. These were the most filling of the snacks I created, and so, despite their being tasty, few of us ate more than two. There was so much more to taste, and no one wanted to fill up too soon. The night was still young and my imagination had caught fire.
When it came to the Sea Salt Pita Chips, I just drizzled these with a bit of orange blossom honey and served them up. Their salty-sweet flavor contrast proved to be a major hit and the perfect bridge course to transition from the more savory menu elements to sweeter ones.
A thin coating of chocolate hazelnut spread plus a sliver of fresh strawberry made the Chocolate Sweet Swirls the declared favorite of the evening. The understated, barely-there sweetness of the chocolate crisps allowed that of the spread and ripe strawberries to shine.
One of the more amusing revelations to come out of this is that Cinnabon Sweet Swirls make excellent Crème brûlée spoons. The cinnamon dusting these was a great flavor pairing with the caramelized sugar crusting the sweet vanilla custard. These were well enough received that they never made it to 2014.
My Host Basket included a handy chip clip bearing the New York Style logo and arrived in a handsome glass and dark wood serving tray displaying more recipes for ways to use New York Style snacks. The tray and its contents made a notable contribution to an evening spent eating and laughing between glasses of French red wines, chilled Moscato d’Asti, and tequila-heavy mixed drinks.
This introduction to the New York Style line was both memorable and festive, and I hope that anyone reading this who has yet to discover the product line will soon find an opportunity to enjoy getting creative with it as much as I did.