I love it when guests pop over unannounced, so I always keep some essentials on hand to make it look as though I was expecting them:
1. Bottle of White Wine: This is self-explanatory! I keep a bottle of Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc chilled and ready because its citrus and passion fruit notes work wonderfully with a wide variety of foods.
2. Hard and Soft Cheese: Serving some cheeses on a small plate is the simplest way to impress.
3. Fresh Hazelnuts: You can snack on them raw, but I suggest pan roasting them quickly, then crushing them to top one of the soft cheeses.
4. Salami: Keep two or three different textures and tastes in the fridge that you can use to make a great platter in a hurry.
5. Pickled Products: I always have some pickled ramps, beets or onions as they make a great snack and are a perfect accompaniment to a charcuterie platter.
6. Olives: Keep a mixture of olives around. Microwave some in a bowl with some olive oil and spices as a snack, or use them in a martini.
7. Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Use this to cook, to finish a dish or simply to break bread and use for dipping.
8. Bacon Jam: I swear this is the ketchup of this generation. It can be added to a grilled cheese sandwich, a baguette or your appetizer platters and will always be a conversation starter.
9. Mustards: These can be used on their own as a condiment or made into an aioli as a great pairing for smoked trout or burgers.
10. Dried Artisanal Pasta: Keep some in the pantry. You can easily whip together a tomato sauce and have a foolproof meal in a short amount of time.
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