Anyone who has ever been invited to a Yankee Swap holiday party (also known as a White Elephant) is aware that each guest has to bring a silly gift to exchangethe goofier the better.
Arguments often break out over who gets to keep the few good things in the mix, while the night’s biggest losers inevitably leave with an ice-cube tray shaped like a set of dentures or a book about how to test their cat’s personality. But when the co-owners of the eco-minded Los Angeles design firm Commune hosted a holiday party, asking people to bring gifts, no one squabbled over who got what. That’s because the guests were L.A.’s hottest tastemakers in food, wine and style, and the gifts they brought were useful, beautiful things that anyone would have been happy to take home.
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Chef Jeff Cerciello of L.A.’s new Farmshop restaurant not only brought a gift (peach jam from Brentwood, California’s incredible Frog Hollow Farm), but he also did the cooking, preparing not one, but two roasts: a bone-in leg of lamb slathered in fiery harissa and a brined, fennel-rubbed pork loin. While Commune’s Roman Alonso set the table in the Spanish-style courtyard (it is L.A., after all, which means alfresco parties even in December), Cerciello prepared platters of gorgeous dishes to pass around family-style. For example, he made lowly parsnips glamorous by roasting them with dates until everything caramelized, then served them with a sumac-spiked yogurt.