The weather is brisk. The leaves are turning. If you’re a Chicagoan, you’re probably starting to think about Halloween. If you’re a Chicagoan who’s also a Caterer, then you’re definitely thinking about the Winter Holidays.
And so I start dreaming….
Before long, Telluride beckons.
Rugged and rustic, the little mountain village of Telluride presents a lovely winter fantasy set in a Rocky Mountain valley. It’s no secret that Chicagoans can bear the cold…but in Telluride the cold becomes a whole different animal, replete with snowball fights and afternoons spent snowshoeing while enjoying the magnitude of quiet winter winds rushing over the snow-capped peaks. And then there are those who spend the day skiing…which begets an afternoon spent indulging in a luxurious aprés ski spread. Hot chocolate is set aside for a robust bottle of red wine, some local cheese, perhaps from James Ranch Artisan Cheese, and a roaring fire. Of course, in our dreams, we’re doing this all in the Great Room of Ralph Lauren’s 17000 acre Double RL Ranch…in front of a natural rock fireplace and surrounded by Elk antlers, American-Indian blankets.
Alas, I am sitting in my West Loop office, outfitted only with my imagination and a drive to recreate that Telluride spirit at my clients’ parties this December.
Here’s what I am thinking.
Don’t have a roaring natural rock fireplace? Why not fill your living room with masses and masses of candles, creating the same warm glow. Warm your guests’ spirits with Tom and Jerrys, offered at the door as guests arrive. Abandon your hothouse floral arrangements and, instead, make a long rough hewn wood table the centerpiece of the evening. Fill horn-rimmed and/or slate trays with rustic hors d’oeuvres such as: baked fig goat cheese bruschetta with clementine, walnut-honey and bourbon candied bacon, wrapped around shrimp and woodland porcini phyllo beggar’s purses. Platters of shaved holiday ham with “liquored UP” maple ketchup are set for guests to admire, with thick slices carved and placed on handmade cheddar biscuits for hand-held nibbling. Large vintage platters of roasted sliced steak, cured meats and potato truffle fries are added to the mix as guests mingle.
If a sit-down dinner is more your celebration style, this can be easily maneuvered. When guests sit down to dinner, they can be greeted with china dinner plates, collected over the years and delightfully mismatched. The dinner menu can showcase smoked chicken medallions, roasted pumpkin-goat cheese souffle and berry port chutney with caramelized pumpkin seed brittle.
The cozy warm evening ends on a sweet holiday note as guests are treated to eggnog mousse licked from silver spoons and warm cinnamon apple fritters with cranberry syrup.
Telluride has such a strong sense of place that it serves as perfect inspiration for your holiday celebration. As far as the rocky mountains of Colorado or as close as our own living room with best friends, we hope to see you for the holidays.