By Ernest Barteldes
On New Year’s Eve Renata and I usually find a party somewhere – over the years, we experienced several ticketed open bar events, going from the very classy Terrace on the Park at Queen’s Flushing Meadows Park, a lavish event that features a live band, DJs, and a variety of food from around the world all the way to a more low-key event at State n Island’s Numberger Bierhaus, a German restaurant that offers a $40 per person deal that includes a small buffet, open bar and a house band playing classic rock covers.
For NYE 2015-16, however, we went on a completely different direction. Since most of our usual friends were either out of town or busy with other engagements, we realized it would be a waste of time and money to go to a party being just the two of us – I mean, if it’s just going to be us, would it really make any difference where we went – or in this case, didn’t go? We figured it wouldn’t.
So the decision was made to stay home – I’d cook something special, stock up on extra wine and a nice bottle of bubbly (it was a bottle of sparkling Riesling from Germany), select a nice playlist and celebrate with Sparky, our year-old cat. I did stress that we would have to go out during the following weekend in order for staying home to be worth it, and we did just that.
I decided to cook a batch of bigos – a traditional Polish stew made with fresh and smoked sausage (I used the kielbasa I purchased during our Christmas dinner shopping trip at Polish GI Delicatessen on the Lower East Side), sauerkraut, fresh cabbage and a few other spices. For the side dish I made sautéed dill new potatoes and that was pretty much it, since we had plenty of leftover cake from the Christmas celebration.
We did a number of things as we waited for midnight – I played a little guitar, we watched a few episodes of Mozart in the Jungle, Amazon’s streaming series on the fictional New York Symphony under conductor Rodrigo de Souza (Gael Garcia Bernal), and we also listened to some music. As the final minutes ran, we tuned into CNN for the countdown, toasted and listened to some more music before it was time to go to sleep.
It was a surprisingly nice experience – no unnecessary expense, we had a great time with each other without having to wonder out in the cold. The food was comforting and so was the wine – and the company was the best anyone could want.
Dill Fingerling Potatoes
Source: Food Network
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 pounds fingerling potatoes, rinsed but not peeled
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
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Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed pot. Add the whole potatoes, salt, and pepper, and toss well. Cover the pot tightly and cook over low heat for 20 to 30 minutes, until the potatoes are just tender when tested with a small knife. From time to time, shake the pot without removing the lid to prevent the bottom potatoes from burning. Turn off the heat and allow the potatoes to steam for another 5 minutes. Don’t overcook. Toss with the dill, and serve hot