Pâté, once an entertaining staple, is generally thought of as a luxury item today, which seems silly once you realize how easy (and inexpensive) it is to make. Plus it freezes beautifully for months, so you can keep it on hand for surprise holiday guests.
Make-ahead tip: You may freeze the pâté after cooling: Divide among individual ramekins (for easy serving), wrap each one first in plastic, then aluminum foil, and freeze. Or store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
In a large skillet, cook bacon over moderate heat until browned. Add onion and continue cooking until golden. Add carrots, garlic, and butter; cook until carrots are tender.
Remove pan from heat and add chicken livers and brandy or port. Return pan to heat and cook, stirring gently, until livers are cooked through but slightly pink in the center, 6 to 8 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add parsley, stir, then remove from heat and put in a food processor and process until smooth. If you like a creamier consistency, add cream.
Serve garnished with parsley on a platter surrounded by crackers, sliced French bread, gherkins, onions, and capers, if desired.