Archive for the ‘Drinks’ Category

Photo: Susan Reimer

Photo: Susan Reimer

I’d love to meet you next month, during a special class I’m hosting for the University of Denver’s Enrichment Program in conjunction with the Central City Opera Guild.

Every year the Guild’s L’Esprit de Noël Holiday Home Tour kicks off the yuletide season with a tour of historic Denver homes decorated by some of the city’s leading table and floral designers. Have you ever toured those elegantly appointed homes and wondered, “How do they do that?”

Home for the Holidays: Secrets to a Memorable Celebration
will be held on two consecutive Saturdays. The first session is Saturday, November 16 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. at my home. During this workshop,  you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at how those designers take simple objects and transform them into elaborate yet tasteful decorations.

First, we’ll cover the planning process, starting with tips for creating a noteworthy invitation and steps to conceiving the perfect mood for your event. You’ll enjoy a cooking demonstration and get expert advice on creating a delicious yet easy to accomplish menu, compliments of cookbook author Eliza Cross. We’ll talk about décor and how to create a beautiful holiday table, and floral designer BJ Dyer of Bouquets will lead you through a variety of ideas for stunning floral arrangements and holiday decorations.

The following Saturday, November 23rd at 10:30, you’ll enjoy a docent-led tour of the 2013 L’Esprit de Noël Holiday Home Tour in the old Crestmoor Park neighborhood. You’ll see firsthand how these impressive techniques are used in some of Denver’s finest homes. Discover the designer secrets for your own memorable and beautifully decorated holiday celebration.

The cost for the two-week class is $95, and Central City Opera Guild members receive a 10 percent discount. To register, visit http://www.universitycollege.du.edu/enrichment or call 303-871-2291.

I hope to meet many of you in person during this fun, festive event!




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Throw a great picnic with Celebrated Gatherings

I love dining outdoors, and with 300 days a year of sunshine in Colorado we try to take advantage of every opportunity to share a meal al fresco. The key to enjoying a great picnic is to give the occasion a little forethought and planning. Here are my favorite tips for hosting an unforgettable outdoor meal:

1. Pack or purchase a beautiful picnic basket. Organizing a dedicated bag or basket with unbreakable plates, cutlery and servers, cups and glasses, salt & pepper shakers, a corkscrew and napkins will make spontaneous picnics a breeze. Just add the food and drinks and you’re good to go!

2. Consider your location ahead of time, and arrive early to set up. An area with big trees will provide both shade and sun for changing weather. If children are coming, a picnic area in a park with a play structure gives kids something to do which may in turn make the picnic more relaxing for adults. An on-site picnic table is ideal, and I like to cover it with a colorful tablecloth and arrange soft, folded blankets on the benches. In a pinch, you can spread a waterproof tarp on the ground and top it with a blanket.

3. Choose food that keeps and transports well like salads, sandwiches and finger foods. (Here are some fresh picnic menu ideas from the Food Network.) Prepare everything ahead of time (cut up the ribs, slice the watermelon, etc.) so you can relax at the picnic site.

4. Chill out. Pack everything in an insulated cooler with plenty of ice packs, and set up the picnic in the shade. Or freeze water bottles the night before, and they can serve as ice packs, and later, drinks.

5. Games like Frisbee, croquet and badminton can easily accommodate varying ages and groups of people.

6. Don’t forget bug repellent. If it’s especially buggy outside, you may want to pack citronella votive candles to place on the table.

7. Bring trash bags, paper towels or cloth dishtowels and disposable wipes or damp washcloths packed in zip-lock baggies for cleaning up after the picnic.

Are you picnicking this summer? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.


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As the saying goes “Everyone’s a little Irish on St. Patrick’s Day,” and who wouldn’t want to be part of one of the world most fun-loving and spirited holidays of the year?

This year, I recommend skipping the bars and opting for a beer tasting bash at home. Similar to a wine tasting party, serve up some of Ireland’s finest stouts, ales, and porters and let your friends taste the nuances in flavor and style. Pair the brews with a St. Patty’s Day meal rich in tradition- corned beef and cabbage, potatoes and Irish soda bread.

Epicurious created this comprehensive list of beers made in or inspired by Ireland. Here are a few favorite beers I pulled from the list, and any of these would be perfect for the party:

  • Beamish Irish Stout
  • Boulevard Irish Ale
  • Diamond Bear Irish Red
  • Finnegans Irish Amber
  • Georg Killian’s Irish Red
  • Great Divid Saint Bridget’s Porter
  • Guinness Pub Draught
  • Harpoon’s Celtic Ale
  • O’Hara’s Irish Red Ale
  • Murphy’s Irish Stout
  • O’Hara’s Irish Stout

Finally, here are some tips on “How To Taste Beer” with advice on pouring, appearance, aroma, first sip, mouthful, finish and styles.

Have a happy, healthy holiday!

Slán leat (goodbye),


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On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…..

  • 12 Drummers Drumming
  • 11 Cousins-a-Bickering
  • 10 Lords-a-Leaping
  • 9 Kids-a-Shouting
  • 8 Maids-a-Milking
  • 7 Aunts-a-Meddling
  • 6 Brothers-a-Quarreling
  • 5 Golden Rings
  • 4 Sisters Prying
  • 3 French Hens
  • 2 In-Laws-a-Ranting
  • 1 Drunken Uncle

…and a Partridge in a Pear Tree!

Ahh, nothing says “holidays” like a good, old -fashioned family feud. The holidays can be tough, and not every gathering is grand –or even peaceful, for that matter. The added stress of stretched finances, packed schedules (more…)

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The old saying “don’t mix religion and politics with friends” — while not always an absolute — is pretty good advice when you’re throwing a party. Nothing kills the festivities faster than a heated debate that can never be won. I can think of very few more sensitive and personal topics that can result in hurt feelings and create potentially permanent rifts between friends and family. This is not to say that these are not valuable conversations to be had — or that in the right place and time they can be anything less than educational and enlightening — but rarely can this happen with a large group. (more…)

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Looking for a simpler, shorter, summer soirée?  I love the typical seasonal BBQ, but occasionally I am looking for a way to gather friends and family with less of a commitment to time and effort. So consider a sundae buffet. Invite your friends over — Pj’s and all — for a sweet nightcap and some stargazing. 

Start with a covered table and three staple flavors of top-shelf ice cream:  vanilla, chocolate and strawberry.  Put out four types of sauce; fudge, caramel, strawberry, and the much-loved marshmallow creme. The added toppings can be as simple or elaborate as you want; chocolate chips, gummy bears, sprinkles, cherries, marshmallows, cookie crumbles and chopped nuts (check for allergies) are a must! Both adults and children love this dessert-only party. For a slight variation for adults, consider making ice cream floats or malts with your favorite liquors and liqueurs.

To bring something unique to the evening, lay out a group of blankets and grab some binoculars and a telescope if you have one. Download some basic constellation maps, lay back, and enjoy exploring the summer sky.


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