There’s only one way to celebrate New Year’s Eve in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression — and that’s with reckless, 1928-style abandon. Sure, starting on Jan. 1, 2009, we can all follow a resolution to spend less, but if we’re going to go down, we might as well do it with a bang. Towards that end, GO Brooklyn has curated a list of some true end-of-year splurges that are worth the money:
Here’s the beef
The supreme centerpiece of a New Year’s Eve spread has traditionally been — and forever will be — a crown roast. The gigantic rib roast (typically pork, but also beef and lamb) is tied in a circle with the ribs pointing up so that it resembles a crown.
At Staubitz Market — a royal butcher if there ever was one — owner John McFadden covers each rib bone with a little white bonnet to better make the connection to the kingly attire that gives the roast its name. But McFadden isn’t through; he then fills the gaping orifice with a ground pork stuffing. The resulting delight is a culinary spectacle to behold.
“It’s about showmanship,” McFadden said. “People will marvel over it. You put it in the middle of the table and it’s a show.”
About $80–$90 buys a roast big enough for 20 people.
Staubitz Market [222 Court St., between Warren and Baltic streets, (718) 624-0014].
The folks at Red, White and Bubbly say you don’t know what you’ve been missing until you try your first $250 bottle of fine wine.
“You can really taste the difference,” said Latifa Gaisi of the shop on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope.
And “Gaisi’s Rule” is especially true for Champagne, a beverage that, let’s face it, encourages many of us to cut corners (cold duck, anyone?).
But when you get up into three digits, Champagne actually justifies all those 1930s songs that wax so rhapsodic about it.
Red, White and Bubbly’s team of connoisseurs recommended two fine varieties for the big night:
• Alfred Gratien Millenaire ($250 for a 1-1/2-liter magnum) is so fancy that it comes in its own wooden case.
• Krug Grand Cuvée, a blend made only from vintage years ($185 for a standard bottle).
• And owner Owner Darrin Siegfried recommended a 1992 Taittinger Collection champagne ($245). Not only is it so good that you’ll like the French again, but each bottle is hand-painted, so it’ll look good even after it’s gone.
Red, White and Bubbly [211 Fifth Ave, between Union and President streets in Park Slope, (718) 636-9463].
Nothing says “New Year’s Eve” like caviar (it’s a czar thing; nobody did winter holidays better than the Russian kings). But just because you want to party like it’s 1899 doesn’t mean you can’t buy an American-made product that still tastes fishy.
At Fish Tales in Cobble Hill, owner Louis Spada recommends Paddlefish caviar ($38 per ounce). Sure, technically, it’s not caviar at all (which must come from a sturgeon, not a lowly fish like a Mississippi spoonbill), and even a serf could tell the difference, but you get to splurge with a clean conscience.
“It’s very comparable to Caspian caviar, but it doesn’t raise the ethical issues of it being from Russia or Iran,” said Spada. “It’s the best in the market right now.”
Then again, if you don’t have any qualms with getting your treats from Putin’s Russia or nuke-mad Iran, give Fish Tales two days notices and the store will have the real McCoy — genuine Sevruga ($150 per ounce) or Osetra ($155) — waiting.
Fish Tales [191 Court St., between Bergen and Wyckoff streets in Cobble Hill, (718) 246-1346].
Now you’re smokin’
Yes, starting on Friday, you can get your bagel with a schmear of fake lox spread, but for New Year’s Eve, treat yourself to a whole smoked salmon.
If you do so, “it’ll be a very classy party,” said Pat Zollo of Metropolitan Fish Market in Greenpoint.
The deliciously buttery, melt-in-your-mouth fish is worth every penny (just $9.50 per pound) — plus, it’s got Omega-3’s!
Metropolitan Fish Market [635 Metropolitan Ave., between Leonard and Lorimer streets in Greenpoint, (718) 387-6835].
Take the cheese plate to a new level with truffle cheeses or nice soft cow’s milk varieties like a double-creme Chaource or a triple-crème Delice d’Argental from Blue Apron Foods.
The store has all sorts of cheeses from all sorts of animals (sheep, goat, cow) and all sorts of places (Italy and California), but the ooey-gooey crème-based cheeses are guaranteed crowd-pleasers ($27 to $28 per pound).
“They’re very very rich and really good with Champagne,” said maestro Alan Palmer, one of the Union Street store’s co-owners.
Blue Apron Foods [814 Union St., between Seventh and Eighth avenues in Park Slope, (718) 230-3160].
If you’ve taken it this far, dessert is the opportunity for a coup de grace. Renowned chocolatier Jacques Torres found the sweet spot with his cork-shaped Champagne chocolate truffle (a 10-piece box is $18.24).
“Many of the champagne truffles on the market have just a drop of champagne and mainly white wine,” explained Ken Goto from the DUMBO store. “But our is REAL champagne and it’s luxurious.”
Jacques Torres Chocolate [66 Water St., between Dock and Main streets in DUMBO, (718) 875-1269].