Food & Games

Food & Games

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Host a festive game night with these themed food-and-drink suggestions.

Cozying up to a crackling fire while reconnecting with friends and family is a cherished tradition each holiday season, so what better way to reminisce and have fun than by hosting an indoor get-together featuring classic party games? Here are some suggestions from edible Reno-Tahoe for taking your game night to a new level this winter.

Charcuterie and Charades

The word charade was invented in France during the 18th century, so it’s fitting to infuse French-inspired charcuterie into an adults-only game night. Just like in the game of charades, keep your friends and family guessing by embarking on bold pairings of Chardonnay — or whatever wine you fancy — to keep the evening vibrant.

From curious cheeses to memorable meats and audacious olives, there’s an art to crafting a respectable charcuterie board. However, when planning a party with people whose palates vary, compiling a not-so-formidable platter can be challenging. In the end, it’s all about balance.

Including a mild Cheddar or pepper jack cheese, in addition to not-too-spicy pepperoni slices, is a great starting point to cater to guests who might not be fans of funky flavors. Rather than going to a grocery store, stop by a smaller market such as West Shore Market in Tahoe City, which offers a carefully curated selection of artisan and farmstead cheeses, not to mention an awesome array of meats, crackers, and condiments, such as bacon and fig jams.

For guests with more seasoned palates, swap the Cheddar for a gouda that boasts a more sophisticated flavor. From there, don’t be afraid to get a bit nutty — literally. A mature-aged Asiago is a slightly crumbly cheese that will add a nutty flavor to your board. Next, embrace the far end of the funk spectrum with a blue cheese that will challenge even the most hardened taste buds.

Lastly, round out the array of choices with a creamy classic such as Camembert or Neufchâtel. You might additionally add brie to your board, as it’s an ideal dessert cheese that pairs well with grapes and can take the edge off the bolder flavors. The Wheyfarer Cheese and Specialty Foods Shop in Reno is a fabulous venue to acquire a variety of cheeses, from European classics to new and exciting American originals, on top of a wide selection of prosciuttos and fine salamis, from Genoa to sopressata, to finocchiona, and beyond.

What goes better with cheese and charcuterie than wine? While opportunities for bold bubblies and varietals are endless throughout the region, consider swinging by Whispering Vine Wine Co. in Reno, which celebrates its 25th anniversary next year. Established in 1998, this Reno mainstay features a rotating wine selection of thousands of labels across its three locations.

Meanwhile, Uncorked Tahoe celebrated its 15th anniversary in February of this year. Visit its three locations in Tahoe City, Truckee, and Olympic Valley to survey a grandiose selection of limited-production wines from around the world that focus on producers who farm mindfully.

Chocolate and Candy Land

Of course, not every holiday get-together requires alcohol. Try a new twist on a family favorite like Candy Land by pampering your sweet tooth with curious chocolates, hot cocoa, and coffee to keep everyone warm and happy on a chilly evening.

According to the 2005 book Timeless Toys: Classic Toys and the Playmakers Who Created Them by Tim Walsh, Candy Land was created in 1948 by Eleanor Abbott, a retired schoolteacher and patient in the polio ward of a San Diego hospital. The first children to play the game were polio patients; the book notes Abbott was “uniquely qualified to understand their circumstances and equally fit to provide a fantasy world into which they could escape.”

While game versions have changed over the decades, many of those fantasy-themed characters who accompany you on your 134-space journey to the top remain, including Mr. Mint, who lives in the Candy Cane Forest; the evil villain Lord Licorice, who rules the Licorice Castle; and King Candy, the king of Candy Land who lives in a castle built out of sweets.

Honor these iconic characters by purchasing goodies created in shops such as Bouchée Confections, which opened in 2020 in Reno and offers more than 25 different flavors of chocolate candies, or Tandem Chocolates, which has been in business since 2016 and creates tasty bonbons with eye-catching design and modern takes on classic flavors. Tahoe City Chocolates in Tahoe City, Dorinda’s Chocolates in Reno, Sweets Handmade Candies in Reno and Truckee, Sugar Love Chocolates in Reno, and Chocolate Nugget Candy Factory in Mound House and Washoe City are just a few local confectioners loaded with sweet inspirations.

What better way to spice up your sweets than with hot cocoa for children and coffee for adults. Coffeebar is among a plethora of coffeehouses from which to choose. With several locations in Reno, Truckee, and Olympic Valley, this coffeehouse’s leaders pride themselves on offering an Italian café experience while responsibly sourcing coffee by partnering with local producers and giving back used grounds and food waste to the farms to feed the soil.

Coffee N’ Comics in Reno, meanwhile, boasts a fresh take on the traditional coffeehouse atmosphere by offering an inclusive space for the comic-loving community. Its menu features specialty mochas and lattes steeped in its signature counterculture espresso, as well a velvety hot chocolate made with marshmallow cream and vanilla, for all ages.

Pizza and Pictionary

No matter your age, everyone loves a pizza party, so try pairing it with a game like Pictionary. You could visit a number of local eateries for to-go orders, but why not have everyone chip in on ingredients to create hearty homemade pies?

If you don’t have time to make your own dough, head to Noble Pie Parlor, opened in 2010 and now with two Reno locations, to purchase house-made pizza dough balls to take home. SouthCreek Pizza Co. in Reno, opened in 2013, offers pizza dough balls to bake at home as well. Also, Great Gold Modern American Italian Kitchen — opened in late 2020 in Truckee and focusing on California cuisine and Golden State-sourced, farm-to-table ingredients — offers take-home dough.

Have friends or family with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease? Patronize a local business such as Haven on Earth Bakery & Deli in Reno, which utilizes such ingredients as tapioca flour, sorghum flour, garbanzo flour, and rice flour for its countless creations, including take-and-bake crusts.

Next, put someone on sauce duty. The key to any good, zesty pizza sauce is fresh tomatoes (though they’re pretty tough to find in winter) and herbs such as basil and oregano. A superb location for fresh ingredients is the Riverside Farmers Market near Downtown Reno. The market, which takes place every Saturday through winter from 9 a.m. to noon at McKinley Arts & Culture Center in Reno, offers produce from regional vendors such as Prema Farm, First Fruits Sustainable Farm, and Gwendolyn’s Gardens, to name a few.

Toppings are a perfect responsibility for the youngest members of your group. Whether you’re using mushrooms, bell peppers, olives, onions, pepperoni, or sausage — or even more sophisticated options such as artichokes and anchovies — have each child pick his or her favorite, then visit a local store such as Great Basin Community Co-op in Reno or New Moon Natural Foods in Truckee and Tahoe City to stock up. You also can get fresh, organic mozzarella and Parmesan at these locations, not to mention a variety of vegan options to ensure everyone’s food requests are met.

For the adults, add craft beer to the mix. Get your growler filled at a local brewery, such as IMBIB in Reno, Pigeon Head Brewery in Reno, The Good Wolf in Truckee, or Shoe Tree Brewing Co. in Carson City, or mix and match a few four-packs to challenge your pizza palate! For the children in your group, instead of pints of beer, pivot to pints of healthy, organic, cold-pressed juices by visiting Great Full Gardens in Reno-Sparks, The Mill Juice Shop in Truckee, or Sprouts Café in South Lake Tahoe.

With your pies out of the oven and favorite beverage in hand, it’s time to play! Just make sure to wipe the grease off your hands before picking up the pen.

 

Kevin MacMillan is a Reno-based writer/editor whose palate hasn’t quite matured as fast as some adults, so he sticks to milder cheeses and salamis for his charcuterie platter, much to his wife’s mild chagrin.

 

GAME ON

Here are some other game night party ideas to entertain this winter:

Scattergories

The goal of this popular party game is to fill out a list of 12 categories with answers beginning with the same letter while racing against the clock. Use the game’s 20-sided die as food-and-drink inspiration! If you roll a “P,” think of fun potato options for bite-sized appetizers, such as homemade latkes or sweet potato crostinis. Roll again to get creative with drink ideas. Or, since vodka pairs well with potatoes, make martinis to get the party started!

Monopoly

Perhaps the most famous board game of all, Monopoly can take several hours to complete, meaning you’ll need snacks. Sugar cookies are super simple to make; take them to the next level by adding decorations inspired by Uncle Pennybags himself. Make rectangular cookies with orange icing to represent Chance cards, bake a batch cut like cars for Free Parking, or use a thimble, in honor of the classic game piece, to create mini cookie bites.

Rummy

Rummy is popular in many households around the holidays, so take a page from its namesake and practice your inner Jack Sparrow by indulging in rum drinks. You can even shake the evening up with some gin for a game of gin rummy. Head to Reno’s Midtown district to visit some of the region’s best cocktail bars, including Rum Sugar Lime, Chapel Tavern, and Death & Taxes, for some ideas. Trust us — you’ll have plenty of inspiration.

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Stay updated with our Newsletter

Discover new products, thriving traditions, or exciting food events, festivals, restaurants, and markets – all of the things that are helping to make us a true culinary destination.