Houston caterer Byron Franklin’s holiday coffee reflects his Texas upbringing and years of study in Vienna. Franklin, born and raised in Baytown, has no formula or fixed menus for his clients, but his own tastes run to the traditional and formal. “Everybody is different,” says Franklin. “My philosophy is, regardless of what happens, it’s going to be their party.”
Based on the Jause, or Austrian afternoon tea, this romantic party artfully mixes Viennese recipes and seasonal Texas foods. Franklin has chosen to create a dramatic event – a formal setting for twelve to twenty with white linen and lace tablecloths, traditional crystal cordial glasses, and antique silver trays and coffee service. “Everything is sparkling with snowy white, gold, and silver,” he says.
Franklin’s Liptauer cucumber sandwiches, seasoned with paprika, cayenne, capers, scallions, and anchovies, are turned into roulades for a different effect. Canapés of venison carpaccio and Madeira quail breasts with creamy saffron mayonnaise bring a bit of Texas winter game to the table. The menu also includes desserts ranging from the rich chocolate torte Ava, adapted from Franklin’s mother’s recipe and decorated with gold leaf, to a sturdy Kugelhopf with chopped cranberries and pecans to a delicate, custardy pear frangipane tart.
For the coffee, which Franklin includes because Texans prefer it over tea, he chooses a Viennese dark roast, preferably brewed with a drip method and served with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream. He also serves champagne, perhaps Mumm’s Crémant de Cramant and Wiener Goldwasser, a Viennese mint liqueur flecked with 24-carat gold leaf. As a finishing touch, Franklin includes tiny hazelnut creams and finger-size Jeff Davis tarts, a traditional Southern variant of a pecan pie made with fates, walnuts, raisins, and cream.
Time: 3 to 5 p.m.
Number of guests: 15 at $24 per guest
Liptauer Cucumber Roulades
Maderia Quail Breasts
A Viennese Dark Roast Coffee, Mumm’s Crémant de Cramant, and Wiener Goldwasser