Creamy, puffy yule for you

We here at Xpress know that entertaining for the holidays is rarely easy. Most of you have barely had time to trash your slowly rotting Halloween Jack-O-Lantern. If you're hosting a gathering this holiday season, it's possible that you're trying to figure out how to work some kick-butt canapés out of a pile of leftover turkey-of-a-certain age. Cranberry-sauce aspic, anyone? No?

Right. Just as we suspected. When it comes to feeding the masses, it's important to ensure that the offerings are edible and show no signs of being leftover from the previous holiday. One of the best ways to put together a quick tray of fresh party favors is to go the kitsch route.

What’s kitschy food? Think Vienna sausages and fondue. It's the cutesy, practical side of practiced cool. It's turning retro items into an ironically awesome spread. It's the food version of fedoras and White Russians.

Case in point: Have you noticed that sliders are in fashion again? The little-bitty burgers that originated at White Castle are popping up on restaurant menus everywhere. All the comfortably upscale joints are doing 'em, man. They're served bastardized with crab cakes slathered in aioli or pulled pork in a nod to the continuing popularity of all things Southern.

We say forget the fancy. We have a Krystal right here on Biltmore Avenue. Get yourself a few sacks of teeny tiny burgers — just $2.75 for four! — and put those suckers on a nice silver tray. Don't forget the toothpicks! You can serve them with shots of PBR.

If you want to bring things up a notch or ten in the sophistication department, however, check out the new Old Europe on Biltmore Avenue. Melinda Vetro turns out diminutive, deliciously rich, savory biscuit-like pastries called pogaca, which she sells for $3.50 a dozen. Sliced in half and served with ham and mustard, you've got tiny, fancy ham biscuits. Garnish with cornichons (a snooty French way of saying tiny, face-suckingly tart pickles), and you've got yourself some finger food that refuses to take itself too seriously. But in a casually cool way. See side bar for other pogaca ideas.

Vetro also put together a chocolate-mint cream puff recipe just for Xpress, which can be found on the next page. The cream puff is a rather retro adaptation of its more sophisticated cousin, the éclair. We prefer the cream puff for its comparative ease of preparation and refusal to put on airs at a dinner party. No time for baking? Vetro will provide these tiny desserts around the holidays, which can be ordered by calling 255-5999. Visit for more information.

Xpress also offers the following helpful tip: Be sure to balance your sweets with savory items. An all-cream puff spread is sure to cause momentary jubilation, but will only end in sugar crashes, crankiness and rampant naps.

Happy entertaining!

— Mackensy Lunsford can be reached at


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