Ask the Critic: What Can I Bring to a Dinner Party?
Editor's note: Here to answer your questions is contributing writer, former managing and SENY editor, and frequent author of our NYC restaurant reviews Carey Jones. We'll take a few of your questions each week and give you the New York restaurant advice you're looking for. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line Ask the Critic to submit your question!
What Can I Bring To A Dinner Party That's Not Crazy-Pricy?
Hi Critic. During the summer especially, my friends have a lot of potluck-style dinner parties or picnics. I'm not much of a cook but am a definite Food Person and I like contributing something good. I love prepared food stores like Brooklyn Larder but I don't have $50 to drop every time! Anywhere you'd suggest for awesome prepared foods that won't bankrupt me?
I'm convinced that Sahadi's, on Atlantic Avenue, exists for exactly this reason. The massive Middle Eastern market does so many things well, but for a cheap appetizer spread, it's simply a dream. Hummus, sure, but how about baba ganoush as well, and labne and muhammara (pepper-walnut dip)? Get some pita or lavash for swipin', and if you really want to feel fancy, get za'atar or sumac to sprinkle atop your spread.
And then there's the Italian route. Prosciutto di Parma and some specialty cheeses might end up costing you, but if you go to a small market like Russo's, you can easily put together a spread. This is a time-honored technique of New York editor Max Falkowitz, whose favorite hors d'ouevres sounds mighty enticing: chestnut honey-topped stacciatella cheese with toasted lard bread and a little cracked peppercorn. To quote him directly: "ISSO GOOD."
Chime in, in the comments!
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