Tips from the Entertaining Experts at OMAR’S
By Claire Gilbertsen and Pamela Jacobs.
Imagine a home away from home, tucked inside a downtown brownstone that offers fine dining without the wait and exclusive company. OMAR’S is a modern-day answer to the glory days of old New York, a private dining club for New York’s most discerning and elite. Membership is carefully curated and is drawn from a wide range of applicants, which results in an exciting and different atmosphere that truly echoes the spirit of days gone by, when the chic and fashionable gathered to enjoy the best of life together.
Since opening in the spring of 2013, OMAR’S has hosted a variety of truly special and unique events, including dinner receptions, cocktail parties, and many after parties. OMAR’S continues to be successful thanks to the passion of the owner and founder, Omar Hernandez, who has gone to great lengths to make members feel welcomed, celebrated, and at home. It’s no wonder that the club is a favorite for many—one never feels forgotten or out of place. His extensive and impressive contact list keeps growing, and membership boasts many recognizable names from all over the world.
During one of the most festive times of the year in New York—when it’s all about togetherness and deliciousness—we reached out to the team at OMAR’S to gain insight into how to make a holiday party truly shine.
Do you have any insider tips on how to make a holiday party really stand out? Are there ways to decorate or little touches that can make your party unique?
This holiday season is about building community (old school/new school). Look around your neighborhood, see what the local businesses and artisans are offering to celebrate the holidays. Support them and bring the spirit of togetherness and timeless chic. The spirit of the holidays sparks when we share with others, gifting a box of cookies to your neighbor to wish them a great one.
In terms of decor, using the current trend to engage the eye, here are a few insider tips:
- Start with the lighting and the music to set the tone.
- Repurpose as much as you can; take old magazines and convert them to magazine holiday origamis, magazine page pinwheels, etc.
- Take many photos of your loved ones while celebrating and convert them into great memories by using apps that create animated, awe-inspiring memories. Great ones include: Phonto (a free app to edit photos and add text), PicFlow (creates photo collages and videos for free), and Video Filters (a free app to change the mood of your holiday video into a variety of moods).
Do you have any favorite dishes that are perfect for the holidays and perhaps a bit more elegant than the usual classics?
Our Executive Chef, Georges Mokbel, specializes in taking everyday dishes and turning them into elegant classics. His cookbook, Everyday to Gourmet, a first in its genre, is about showing two distinct ways to view and prepare the same dish. Each of the 110 recipes featured are shown and photographed side-by-side into two distinct ways of preparation. While the everyday version is described in easy ways to suit the everyday table, the gourmet version takes the same dish to a gourmand level, using presentation ideas and simple techniques inspired by professional culinary kitchens. The idea brings to consumers the artistry and the techniques of the pros, easily adapted for beginner and savvy cooks alike.
For the holidays, Mokbel likes to take a few classic dishes and give them a modern spin to take it to the next level with fresh, seasonal tastes for guests’ palates. One holiday dessert that is being featured on the OMAR’S menu this season is Pumpkin Profiterole with Apple Cider Caramel [see sidebar].
How can you make the cocktails stand out, but in a simple way that’s easy to do for a crowd?
According to Artan Gjoni, our managing partner who oversees the bars and cocktails menus, for holiday parties it’s always great to have one pre-made signature cocktail that’s ready to pour for guests, so you just need to add ice and a fresh garnish to finish it off.
At OMAR’S, we always highlight seasonal cocktails to keep the menus new and exciting for our guests. This year we are featuring the Buchanan 18 with bourbon, lemon juice, honey, basil syrup, bitters, and a dash of cinnamon. Sipping it evokes a feeling of warmth and the holiday season in one glass.
Any ideas for a unique, fun way to ring in the New Year?
Per Omar, Periscope in the next big thing is social networking. A fun, modern idea is to make sure that everyone has a selfie stick and Periscope ready to recreate their own ball drop moment with loved ones around the world. Even though friends may not physically celebrate the New Year together, this way you can still share an intimate moment to create a sense of togetherness.
For more information: omar-nyc.com/
Chef Mokbel’s Pumpkin Profiterole with Apple Cider Caramel
Pate a Choux (Cream Puffs)
1/2 cup + 2 tbs water
1/2 cup + 1 tbs whole milk
1 1/2 tbs granulated sugar
1 pinch salt
5 tbs butter
4 large eggs
1 cup + 1 tbs all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine water, milk, sugar, salt, and butter in a medium sauce pan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Sift flour and add all at once stirring vigorously, using a spatula until mixture is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Allow mixture to cool one minute off the heat, then add eggs one at a time, stirring each egg into the dough until fully combined after each addition. Once all eggs are incorporated, continue stirring one minute or until mixture is smooth and shiny.
Using a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch tip, mound about 1 tbs dough on a parchment lined baking sheet. keeping each mound of dough 1 inch apart. Bake 20 minutes until golden brown. Reduce heat to 250 degrees F and bake an additional 20 minutes until dry. Place baking sheet on a cooling rack and allow to reach room temperature.
1 vanilla bean split in half
1 cup whole milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 tbs unsalted butter
Combine vanilla, milk, and pumpkin in a medium pot and bring to a simmer over low heat. Whisk yolks, sugar, and cornstarch in a separate bowl until the sugar has fully dissolved. Temper the egg mixture by stirring in about half of the simmering mixture into the egg mixture. Pour the egg mixture over the simmering mixture and cook 1-2 minutes, stirring consistently until mixture thickens. Stir in butter off the heat until fully incorporated. Cool mixture before using.
Apple Cider Caramel
3 cups fresh apple cider
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp pumpkin spice mix (optional)
Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and reduce to a syrupy consistency. Fill each profiterole using a piping bag. Arrange on a serving plate and drizzle with Apple Cider caramel.