Being the “host with the most” during this autumn’s harvest parties and holiday feasts won’t be easy. There are so many televised food competitions and cute markets selling “artisanal” ingredients out there, that standards for home chefs are higher than ever before. So, once you’ve spent weeks figuring out your menu, bling up your setting with the over-the-top accessories from this list...and watch your guests be impressed in spite of themselves. These would also make fantastic hostess gifts for all those guests out there.
Toasting Forks, Rustic Roasters
“We’re doing campfire dining — nothing fancy,” you promise. But then, you bring out applewood-smoked bratwurst in lieu of hotdogs and handmade marshmallows for s’mores afterwards. Plus, you give each guest not just their own toasting fork, but an Antler Roaster toasting fork from Rustic Roasters in Park City. So rugged, yet so King of the Mountain. It's important to know that no elk or deer are harmed to make these forks; the handles are individually crafted from shed antlers.
Cirrus Ice Ball Press, Williams-Sonoma
Some bartenders swear that the best way to preserve the flavor of a top-shelf spirit served “on the rocks” is to pour the spirit over a single ice sphere, which supposedly melts more evenly and slowly than standard ice cubes. The booze-swilling plebes among us just know that it looks really, really cool — definitely cool enough to justify the purchase of this Cirrus Ice Ball Press Kit from Williams-Sonoma. The small size retails for $699 and makes three ice spheres per batch, while the large is $1,099 and makes five.
Mother-of-Pearl Caviar Spoons, Sur la Table
If there is anything swanker than serving caviar at your dinner party, it's serving it in mother-of-pearl spoons (because regular metal spoons might affect the flavor, dah-ling). Only, surprise! Those caviar spoons are no pricier than the silver-plated version. “I like to use mother-of-pearl spoons when I have people over who haven’t tried caviar before,” says Chef Michael Ferraro of NYC comfort food hot spot Delicatessen. “They aren’t even that expensive, but they really create that ‘Wow’ factor.” Try these $14.95 Caviar spoons from Sur la Table.
Cuisine & Cocktail R-Evolution Packs, Molecule-R
While some say that molecular gastronomy has jumped the shark, there’s still something entertaining about it in a mad-scientist way...and that goes double for molecular mixology, with its fruity foams, liquid beads and test tube presentations. Molecule-R Flavors makes molecular gastronomy and mixology accessible on a DIY at-home level with introductory kits that consist of recipes, food additives and “specialized molecular tools.”
And then there are the extremists who say, "Why drink OR eat a cocktail, when instead you can heat it to the evaporation point and suck in the captured fumes?" According to Vaportini, this setup imparts more of a “high” than a traditional buzz, after only a few minutes of breathing from the “intoxicating cloud.” And it tastes much the same as whatever alcohol you vaporized, only not nearly as intense. Andrew Couts from Digital Trends called it “the best way to catch yourself on fire while drinking,” but admitted that there have been no reports of that happening…yet.
Peace Pipe Tomahawk, Mountain Man Toy Shop
According to hipster cowboys from Toronto to Tahoe, tomahawk throwing is going to be the next big backyard game, supplanting horseshoes and bocce amongst a certain mellow-macho set — and garnering lots of female fans too. The fact that tomahawks were deadly weapons in the past doesn’t detract from their popularity today, according to manufacturers like New West Knifeworks, a Wyoming-based company that sells hand-forged “throwing tomahawks.” The one pictured has a peace pipe on the non-blade side and sells out as fast as the store can stock them, at $250 a pop.
Mudpie “Chalk Talk” Wine Charms at Cameo Nouveau
Wine charms are possibly the most useful invention that nobody ever thought they really needed at a party. Funny how things change a few drinks in when you can’t remember what you were sipping or what color lipstick you may or may not have been wearing. It’s much easier to just put a nametag on your glass from the very beginning. But also, slightly embarrassing. Thankfully, these cute “chalkboard-style” charms from Cameo Nouveau are as much of a party flair item as they are a safeguard against awkward drinking moments.
Mustache Cutting Board, Woodbob
Sure, having an ironic mustache as a serving platter/charcuterie board makes a statement, but whether you’re pledging allegiance to the hipsters or gently mocking them is anyone’s guess. Either way, it’s cheerful, quirky and obviously not for squares. The above board is a $35 limited edition bamboo board from Woodbob.
Vinturi Reserve Red Wine Aerator and Carafe, Williams-Sonoma
Another favorite from the sophisticated drinking section of Williams-Sonoma, the latest aerator/carafe by Vinturi speeds up the process of letting a wine “breathe” and looks very dramatic while doing so. Instead of uncorking a wine and letting it sit for an hour, pour it through the aerator and into the carafe, expediting the process by which air circulates through the liquid. Sophisticated tasters swear that an aerated red has a smoother finish and an enhanced nose.