Virtually less than 12 hours ago I was planning to ring in the New Year by babysitting. (Something I haven't done in years, and yeah, despite kind of believing that the way you start the year...) It's a long story how and why, but ultimately I changed my mind (don't worry about the parents who needed a sitter; they had another option too - everybody's happy) and even decided to contribute some finger foods for my plan B, which is shaping to be an intimate cocktail party. In preparation for tomorrow, I picked my recipes (which will remain a surprise until I make them and post the results) and watched a bunch of kitchen shows that I found on my non-cable channel options.
I saw for the first time what Mark Bittman looks like for example. Although I have been reading "The Minimalist" for a long time and have leafed through his multiple-pound-heavy "How to Cook Everything" cookbooks, I had never seen any of his apparently equally ubiquitous TV shows. No intention to avoid them on my part; must be that I have no cable. (I know, I know - he also has short videos on the NYTimes' site, but I love the Times as a newspaper and even while reading it online actually am not very tempted to watch those).
So his "The Best Recipes" are my new discovery and the episode I saw, "A Sunday Dinner in Europe" made my mouth water, especially since my boyfriend and I also brought home from Catalonia the recipe for the simple and delicious pa amb tomàquet. I promise to show how this bread-and-tomato snack is made at some future point, mostly to assure all non-Catalan (and non-Spaniards, I suppose) how accessible this crispy and garlicky wonder is in your own kitchen.
Now I have gotten all my ingredients for tomorrow's goodies and even scoured some clever wine-related web pages, from which I chose the oxymoron of New Mexico champagne for our midnight toast. French word purists can relax: I sneaked that one in there just to tease them; but outside of technicalities, I really see no reason why a sparkling wine produced by the Gruet family (of proper Champagne renown), according to what they describe as a "true Methode Champenoise" cannot carry the same name. But so be it - I give this one to the brand-name lawyers. This (the part that starts around the 2nd quarter of the total clip; got 87 points by the crazy dude) is what I am getting for tomorrow.
PS To make up for sending you the way of the last link, here is something more appropriately polished - the best how-to video you can watch to be in top-notch form on December 31st, at midnight. (And any other occasion that calls for bubbles.)