Being the "host with the most" during this autumn's harvest parties and holiday feasts won't be easy. There are more televised food competitions, more markets selling "artisanal" ingredients, and thus, higher standards for home chefs than ever before. So once you've figured out your menu, bling up your setting with the over-the-top accessories from this list….and watch your guests be impressed in spite of themselves.
|Toasting forks, Rustic Roasters|
"We're doing campfire dining—nothing fancy," you promise. But then, you bring out applewood-smoked bratwurst in lieu of hotdogs, and handmade marshmallows for s'mores afterward…and give each guest not just their own toasting fork, but an Antler Roaster toasting fork from Rustic Roasters in Park City. So rugged, yet so King of the Mountain. (No elk or deer are harmed to make these forks; the handles are individually crafted from shed antlers.)
|Cirrus Ice Ball Press, Williams Sonoma|
Some bartenders swear that the best way to preserve the flavor of a top-shelf spirit served "on the rocks" is to pour the spirit over a single ice sphere, which they say melts more evenly and slowly than standard ice cubes. The booze-swilling plebes among us just know that it looks really, really cool – possibly cool enough to justify the purchase of this ice ball press, which has an SRP of $699.95 and makes just three ice spheres per batch.
|Mother-of-Pearl Caviar Spoons, Sur la Table|
If there is anything swanker than serving caviar at your brunch/cocktail party/reception, then it's serving it in mother-of-pearl spoons (because regular metal spoons might affect the flavor, dah-ling). Only, surprise! Those caviar spoons are no pricier than the silver-plated version. "I like to use mother-of-pearl spoons when I have people over who haven't tried caviar before," says Chef Michael Ferraro of NYC comfort food hot spot Delicatessen. "They aren't even that expensive, but they really create that 'Wow' factor."
|Cuisine & Cocktail R-Evolution Packs, Molecule-R|
While some say that molecular gastronomy has jumped the shark, there's still something entertaining about it in a mad-scientist way…and that goes double for molecular mixology, with its fruity foams and liquid beads and test tube presentations. Molecule-R Flavors makes molecular gastronomy and mixology accessible on a DIY at-home level, with introductory kits that consist of recipes, food additives and "specialized molecular tools"… for steady hands only.
And then there are the extremists who say, why drink OR eat a cocktail, when you could heat it to evaporation point and suck in the captured fumes? (True, there aren't many of these people, but perhaps the same contingent who advocate vaporizers and steam treatments.) According to reports, this setup imparts more of a "high" than a traditional buzz, after only a few minutes of breathing from the "intoxicating cloud." And it tastes much the same as whatever alcohol you vaporized, only not nearly as intense. One blogger from DigitalTrends.com also called it "the best way to catch yourself on fire while drinking," but admitted that there have been no reports of that happening…yet.
|Peace Pipe Tomahawk, Mountain Man Toy Shop|
According to hipster cowboys from Toronto to Tahoe, tomahawk throwing is going to be the next big backyard game, supplanting horseshoes and bocce amongst a certain mellow-macho set, and garnering lots of female fans too. The fact that tomahawks were deadly weapons in the past doesn't detract from their popularity today, according to manufacturers like New West Knifeworks, a Wyoming-based company that sells hand-forged "throwing tomahawks" for $100. The one pictured was featured on Top Shot, has a peace pipe on the non-blade side, and sells out as fast as the store can stock them, at $250 a pop.
|Mudpie "Chalk Talk" Wine Charms, at Cameo Nouveau|
Wine charms are possibly the most useful invention that nobody ever thought they needed at the beginning of a party. Funny how things change a few drinks in: you can't remember what you were sipping or what color lipstick you may or may not have been wearing. It's much easier to just put a name tag on your glass from the very beginning. But also, slightly embarrassing. These cute "chalkboard-style" charms are as much a party flair item as a safeguard against awkward drinking moments.
|Mustache Cutting Board, Broadway Panhandler|
For sure, having an ironic mustache as a serving platter/charcuterie board makes a statement. But whether you're pledging allegiance to the hipsters or gently mocking them is anyone's guess. Either way, it's cheerful and quirky and obviously not for squares.
|Vinturi Reserve Red Wine Aerator and Carafe|
Another favorite from the "better boozing through fancy accessories" section of Williams-Sonoma, the latest aerator/carafe by Vinturi speeds up the process of letting a wine "breathe" and looks very dramatic while doing so. Instead of uncorking a wine and letting it sit for an hour, pour it through the aerator and into the carafe, expediting the process by which air circulates through the liquid. Sophisticated tasters swear that an aerated red has a smoother finish and an enhanced nose.
|Chef's Fun Foods French Fry Seasonings|
Winner of the People's Choice award at the 2013 Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo, this seasoning collection is the humblest product on our list, but will take your homemade chip game to restaurant caliber. And the seasonings can be used in all sorts of other ways. Parmesan garlic fries? Sour cream 'n onion latkes? Buffalo-style burgers? Getting the right flavor takes just a shake or two—and sure, it might not be Michelin star-quality, but it's what the cooks at your favorite local brewpub probably use.