Happy New Year Amsterdam News-reader family!!!! Thank you for all of the love in 2010. Who would have thunk it but there is STILL tons to eat and see and write about in 2011. My fork and knife are at the ready…

I seem to never look forward to celebrating the change of year. I don’t want to go to Times Square; too many people…and where do they go to the bathroom exactly? I dare not venture past 42nd Street for fear of not getting back uptown when I am ready…at 12:01 a.m. I stay as local as possible, usually strolling around my ‘hood to different venues.

This year my New Year’s Eve would have been a bust if not for the grace of my good friend Kristin and her friend Ariel. Ariel had a potluck dinner party on the Upper West Side that was just the right ticket for me–food and friends.

I wasn’t prepared for the culinary mastery of Ariel et al. I arrived to the smell of Thanksgiving and a gorgeous apple crumb pie being prepared for the oven. Of course cocktails were flowing, the table was festively set and hors d’oeuvres of oysters on the half shell and caviar (…dahhhling) were being served in the salon. Loving that!

We sat down to Ariel’s moist apricot-glazed roast turkey, chestnut and turkey sausage stuffing and onion pie with John’s spicy roasted Brussels sprouts and Kristin’s perfectly smooth and flavorful roasted yam puree. All of this with the essential canned cranberry sauce was a Thanksgiving redux and the perfect meal!

Soon after we finished the meal we retired to the living room to see the fireworks in Central Park?! I am a native New Yorker and never knew there were fireworks…I mean Grucci, wide-eye-inspiring, 15-minute fireworks. Their ending was my cue to depart back uptown and prepare for 1.1.11.

I was getting my lips prepared to wrap themselves around Courtney and Nissa’s traditional New Year’s Day gumbo fest (Thank you for the late night doggie bag y’all. Courtney, you put your foot up in it again!), but instead found myself at the beautiful home of Skip and Aischa for chef Thomas Keller’s boeuf bourguignon, artfully prepared by Aischa, and Joycelyn’s perfectly seasoned greens. And for dessert, an assortment of sweets featuring homemade gourmet cupcakes while we had some spirited games of Taboo and Scattergories.

When I arrived home I realized I did not have my black-eyed peas for the New Year. Thankfully I was prepared and removed a pint I made during Thanksgiving from the freezer for dinner the next night with brown rice and kale salad…and hot sauce!

For those that know, and those that do not know, black-eyed peas are essential to the first meal of the New Year. Yes, they are delicious, filled with fiber and, when mixed with rice, a complete protein; however the real reason, according to Southern legend, is these peas are an aid in bringing luck in the new year.

Will the black-eyed peas have the same effect if eaten within the first 48 hours? Will I have more extraordinary food adventures in 2011? Will I hear from more Talking SCHOP! readers this year? Will I win the lottery and retire to a private island? Will The Bachelor find love this time? Wait…got carried away.

Happy New Year!!!

Enjoy, get eating and thanks for reading!

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Kysha Harris is owner of SCHOP! SCHOP! and is available for weekly service or for home entertaining. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? kysha@iSCHOP.com.