Old Lang’s Sign

Potato Pizzettas

Wash down with a bit of bubbly...

Living in a big city like New York is like an immersion course in eavesdropping. You can’t help it: step outside your apartment and you’re in a world of other people’s business. Elevators are the bull’s eye in this conversational target. The image of New Yorkers packed into an elevator staring silently at the changing floor numbers is only partly true; there are enough folks willing to air their dirty laundry in this venue to give reality TV a run for its money. (My brother used to “goose” the crowded elevator reality game by turning to his wife and scolding, “Put that gun away!”)

This was true even BCP (before cell phone); the spice that cell phones have added is that you often have to imagine half of the conversation. (I say “often” because there are enough folks who carry the weight of the whole conversation solo to more than compensate for the absence of person at the other end. Some time ago I was standing in the lobby of a theater during intermission and was treated to a gentleman’s loud and vivid description of his root canal earlier that day. I gave him a look that said, “Really?” so he turned away but kept up his loud play-by-play because, obviously, if he couldn’t see me then I couldn’t hear him. Cell phone logic?)

It should come as no surprise that the eavesdropped conversation of late centers on New Year’s Eve. Everyone is answering the musical question, “What are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” More often than not the answer is, “Staying home.” (Granted, the frequency of that specific answer rises in direct relation to the age of the respondent.)

No comments about my age, please; I am enthusiastically joining the hordes staying home this year. Friends can stop by if they like, and, not to worry, I can feed them. Staying home on New Year’s Eve means one thing to me: food. But be warned: on New Year’s Eve I feel no obligation to have an entrée and willingly make a meal out of appetizers. This year “Nibbles R Us.”

Naturally any New Year’s Eve nibble must be bubbly compatible. The bubbly of choice this year is Prosecco, the delicately sweet Italian sparkling wine, or Ginger Ale. (Being a lightweight, I’m good for one slug of Prosecco before changing to Ginger Ale. Friends who stop by during their night of revelry will finish the Prosecco for me.)

Making bubbly-compatible nibbles is easy: anything goes with Prosecco (and Ginger Ale.) Cheese and good crackers; Zabar’s Lobster Pâté on skinny toast points; Spiced Pecans are an easy treat: I lightly sauté pecans with a dot of butter, a touch of brown sugar, a little salt, and some crushed, fresh rosemary—not unlike the legendary bar pecans served at Manhattan’s Union Square Café (theirs includes cayenne pepper, good with Ginger Ale, not so great (my opinion) with Prosecco. So I leave it out.)

But I think the star of the show will be little Potato-Rosemary Pizzettas. Making these is as simple as making (or buying) pizza dough, rolling it into small pieces then topping each with a couple of very thinly sliced potato slices, rosemary, pine nuts, and sea salt before baking in a very hot oven. (The hot oven will roast the potato slices, so make sure the slices are thin.) A few of these will make a great dinner. (I like to use an assortment of different color potatoes, but feel free to use your favorite kind.)

These can be re-warmed easily throughout the evening, and I think they are great as is. However, I reserve the right to “gild the lily” at the last minute. If I do, then the slightest dab of crème fraiche and a grain or two (or three) of decent caviar will swaddle baby 2011 in a luxurious blanket.

Don’t think for a second that the whole nibble concept can’t be extended to include dessert. I’ll be making tiny chocolate chip cookies, (a surprisingly adept Prosecco partner), fresh raspberries (created by Mother Nature specifically to be dropped into sparkling wine), and shot glass-sized hot fudge sundaes. The latter will be doing double duty: dessert first, then something sweet to ring in the New Year (I have a superstition whereby the first thing I eat in the New Year should be sweet.) (My short cut for these short sweets? Buy a little good fudge and melt it over a double boiler. The sundaes may be small, but they should be deadly, yes?)

Here’s my New Year’s toast to you: Thank you for reading my blog. Thank you for your support. May the New Year find you happy, healthy, and well fed. For hints on the latter, visit here often. Don’t be a stranger.

Happy New Year!


Click here for the recipe for my Pizza Dough recipe.(Makes approximately 64 Pizzettas.)


The Ronald McDonald House of New York is an amazing facility which provides a temporary “home-away-from-home” for pediatric cancer patients and their families. The Ronald McDonald House is supported entirely by private donations. Please read about this amazing place, and keep them in mind when considering your year-end charity donation.


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