Nothing is more fun than a good costume party and Halloween is the perfect occasion to get creative and let your hair down, blowing off work-related stress and enjoying the good spooky spirit of others. If you want to host a get-together and you’re not exactly a food stylist – you just want great, filling finger food, there are excellent resources right here in Queens to make your party a culinary hit. Queens is like no other borough with its unparalleled global marketplace – you can give your guests hearty, Fall fare that is somewhat unexpected but unquestionably delicious.
You may be familiar with Zum Stammtisch, the old German restaurant in Glendale, 69-46 Myrtle Avenue (GMAP). Last year they opened up a beautiful and well-serviced specialty shop, Stammtisch Pork Store & Imports right next door, offering classic German meats. Great for finger food are the peanut franks, just two-and-a-half inches in length, that come strung and are sold by the pound. They only need to be heated up to consume. Wrap them up in croissant dough and add a dab of mustard to make little pockets of comfort food.
Stammtisch also carries fantastic pretzel rolls – table rolls from sourdough that deliver that wonderful pretzel taste in a chewy bread. They’re great for hamburger sliders and you can buy as many as you need. There’s a deep selection of pfeffernüsses, the standard spiced and glazed German cookie, traditionally served around Christmas time but secretly enjoyed year-round. The small version in black-and-white fits the Halloween aesthetic and is rich, packing a large punch for such a small treat.
The premier purveyor of fine Spanish foods in the City is Despaña, at 86-17 Northern Boulevard, Jackson Heights (GMAP). For 40 years Queens has been the site of Despaña’s thriving wholesale business. In recent years they expanded to include a shop in Soho, a more retail-focused venue featuring a tapas bar and a wine shop, but everything is available for single purchase in Queens.
The speciality of the house at Despaña is dried cured meats, the most popular of which is the chorizo vela, perfect sliced up for finger food; they’ve got an excellent array of Spanish cheeses. Naturally, there’s a great selection of olives – the rellenas de geso and the rellenas de limon both make excellent for standing and snacking. You can buy pounds and pounds of marcono almonds, the stubby, soft ones with no skin.
Do not leave without purchasing a package of tortas, crispy oil cakes that can be sweet or savory to either bear cheese or go perfectly with coffee – it’s a lot of flavor without volume and leaves everyone delighted.
For stocking up on the basics, nothing beats Fairway, the Douglaston store, located at 242-02 61st Avenue (GMAP), opened in 2011. Grab your Zipcar and go. Fairway has bulk supplies at bulk prices, but the items are unique – Fairway features classic New York and international brands that are not found just everywhere. For example, pick up a huge cone of Stosh’s Famous Kettle Corn (6 scoops full), party-sized bags of WEGE’s of Hanover broken pretzels bites, family-sized helpings of Fairway’s own brand of tortilla chips, apples by the bushel and sacks of fluffy marshmallows.
Of course, if you’re seeking decorative produce, Fairway stocks enormous pumpkins, two and three-footers, great for city stoops and co-op lobbies. Especially charming are Fairway’s blueberry yogurt pretzels, which are a gouhlish smokey purple. Plus, right now two boxes of Malomars are on special for $7.
If your fête is more “salon” and less “kegger,” and you’re looking for the best Halloween themed delectables money can buy, stop in at the Astor Bake Shop, located at 12-23 Astoria Boulevard (GMAP). Here you’ll find not only those ubiquitous pumpkin whoopie pies (although Astor does them better) but also exceptional pumpkin macaroons of the softest salmon color. Astor is also featuring bright, racy candied green apples on sticks – perhaps best sliced up and shared. Bats and sculls seem to be the favored motifs, the bakery offers both in lovingly adorned cookies and carefully hewn white chocolate pops.
A quick word on décor:
Queens is home to an outstanding costume warehouse where you can rent an 18th century French gown or a child-sized furry dragon, Rubie’s, at 120-08 Jamaica Avenue, Richmond Hill (GMAP). But for true one-stop shopping – disposable costumes, decorations, plates and napkins – the works, Party City has it all. There’s a location in Long Island City at 34-60 48th Street (GMAP).