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Look-Alike Luxe | Blowout and Bargain Parties

Caviar or trout roe, silver or silver plate: you can entertain elegantly whether you spend a lot or a little. Here, the most stylish alternatives.

Champagne and Caviar

LAVISH

BUDGET

Krug Champagne ($150) belongs in a luxe "Ambassador" crystal flute, from a 1925 design by Oswald Haerdtl ($112 at Moss; 866-888-MOSS or www.mossonline.com). Domaine Chandon Brut Reserve from California ($17) is delightful in a "Stiletto" handblown flute by Vera Wang for Wedgwood ($30; 800-955-1550).
Osetra caviar has a wonderful nutty flavor and is nearly translucent. Petrossian's Tsar Imperial Osetra is one of the company's finest—and most expensive ($154 for 1 3/4 ounces; 800-828-9241 or www.petrossian.com). Trout roe from the Sunburst Trout Company is North Carolina's bright and briny freshwater version of caviar ($40 for 4 ounces; 800-673-3051 or www.sunbursttrout.com). The firm roe tastes delicious with a dollop of crème fraîche.
Caviar server Fabergé's "Connoisseur" has a wide Art Deco­style silver collar. The spoon shown here is sold separately ($650; 212-576-2014). Caviar server Ercuis's "Fjord" is simple and lovely, with a hint of silver ($138 from Gump's; 800-766-7628). Mother-of-pearl spoon from Ruzzetti & Gow ($72 for six; 212-327-4281).
Bluepoint oysters, originally from Long Island, are now farmed all over the Atlantic. Small, sweet Kumamotos are a good West Coast choice ($1.65 each). Littleneck clams on the half shell need little in the way of accompaniment other than a squeeze of lemon or a spoonful of cocktail sauce (65 cents each).
Glass bowl The footed "Woodstock," from Vermont-based Simon Pearce, is handblown ($115; 877-452-7763). Glass bowl Crate & Barrel's "Cortland" has clean lines and is ultraversatile ($17; 800-967-6696).

Charcuterie and Snacks

LAVISH

BUDGET

Porcelain plate Bernardaud's "Zanzibar," part of the French company's Fusion White line, is made of fine Limoges china ($75; 800-884-7775).
Bresaola, a tasty air-dried beef from the Alps, is available at specialty shops ($30 a pound) and presliced at supermarkets (look for Citterio brand; $5.50 for 4 ounces).
Porcelain plate Villeroy & Boch's "Palm," from the German company's Metropolitan collection, is shaped like a leaf ($33; 800-223-1762).
Genoa salami, imported from Italy, is generally made from pork and veal and seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic and red wine ($7 a pound at delis and Italian markets).
Caperberries, the pickled fruit of the caper plant ($4 for 6 ounces; 888-472-1022 or www.tienda.com), are delicious with the shallotlike bulbs called lampascioni ($19 for 10 ounces; 877-907-2525 or www.esperya.com). Cornichons are crisp and tangy tiny gherkins ($2 for 12.5 ounces). Mixed with pickled pearl onions ($2 for 8 ounces) and served well-chilled, they're a terrific foil for salami and other cured meats.
Cocktail fork Reed & Barton's "Pointed Antique" ($42; 800-343-1383 or www.reedandbarton.com). Cocktail fork Kent Silversmiths' "Queen Anne" fork ($17 at Michael C. Fina; 800-BUY-FINA or www.michaelcfina.com).
Round bowl Georg Jensen's "Finger Bowl" is made of hammered sterling silver ($800; 212-759-6457).
Macadamia nuts Bazzini's come from wherever the crop is freshest and best ($16 a pound; 212-334-1280).
Round bowl Ercuis's "Chinese" has a shiny silver-plated exterior ($83 at Gump's; 800-766-7628).
Marcona almonds are roasted in olive oil and salted ($6 a pound at specialty shops, like Fairway in Manhattan).
Shapely tray Calvin Klein's "Luminous" olive tray doubles as a cracker holder ($30; 877-256-7373).
Crackers American Vintage Wine Biscuits are peppery and salty-sweet ($5.25 for 4.5 ounces; 718-361-1003).
Shapely tray The "Rhombi" dish by Simplydesignz has sinuous lines ($8 at Tokens; 212-489-8517).
Crackers Taralli are crisp and peppery Italian knots ($11 a pound at Williams-Sonoma; 877-812-6235).

Cheese Trays

LAVISH

BUDGET

Serving board Armani Casa's, which can be used for cutting or serving, is made of bamboo, a material that's harder than maple, and has a sleek shape ($45; 212-334-1271). Serving board Totally Bamboo, a Southern California family-owned company, makes chopsticks, flatware and cutting boards like this one ($15; 818-505-0159).
Cheese knife Christofle's "Alizes" design has a wavy pattern on its handle ($115; 877-PAVILLON). Cheese knife Williams-Sonoma's is imported from Italy (part of a $38 five-piece serving set; 800-541-2233).
Bucheron, by far the largest of all log-shaped goat cheeses, is dense, creamy and almost always sold by the slice ($15 a pound from Murray's Cheese Shop; 888-692-4339).
St. Agur, a pungent blue-veined cheese from the Auvergne region in France, is worth seeking out ($17 a pound from Ideal Cheese Shop; 800-382-0109).
Brillat-Savarin is a buttery French triple-cream named for the famous French gastronome ($14 a pound).
Grafton Four-Star Sharp Cheddar is one of Vermont's finest cheeses ($16 a pound).
Pecorino Tartufo, from Tuscany, is studded with black truffles ($21 a pound).
Comté, from France's Jura mountains, is large and firm, with a strong, nutty flavor ($20 a pound).
Montrachet is a fresh French goat cheese sold in small logs. The mild flavor makes it a great introduction to goat cheese for the uninitiated ($10 a pound).
Mountain Gorgonzola, from Lombardy, Italy, is aged for considerably longer, and has a sharper flavor, than its creamy cousin, Gorgonzola Dolce ($8 a pound).
Brie is the little black dress of cheese. To pick a ripe wheel, poke it; it should yield to light pressure ($6 a pound).
Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar has a creamy texture and a deep flavor ($6 a pound).
Pecorino Toscano Fresco is softer and milder than the standard, longer-aged versions ($14 a pound).
Aged Gruyère develops its rich salty-sweet taste as it ripens in Swiss Alpine caves ($11 a pound).
Champagne grapes, or baby red grapes, are the ones that are used to make dried currants ($6 a pound). Red Flame grapes have a sweetness that makes them a fine accompaniment to most cheeses ($2.50 a pound).

For all foods on these pages, prices are approximate and may vary.

Published December 2003
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