Small-plate parties are cropping up everywhere. Entertaining with tapas (pronounced TAH-pahs) has become THE way to entertain with ease. What's the story? It's the case of a popular Spanish cocktail hour custom making a whole lot of sense to busy people everywhere. In this country the tasty finger-food 'bites' or simple buffet-served dishes make the meal.
- It's the cocktail hour. Even in Spain, people imbibe all kinds of drinks—both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. With these menus, pilsner or lager beers, medium-bodied red wines from Spain or other sunny climates, and refreshing choices like Italian Sodas or Tropical Tea will fill the bill.
- Chilled fino sherry is the tapas drink of choice for purists. Offer some of this light colored, dry sherry if you like. It’s drunk in Spain with tapas much like Americans drink Chardonnay with appetizers.
- A tapas menu can be as simple as drinks, nuts and olives.
- Almonds—see if you can find the heart-shaped Spanish Marcona almonds that taste more like cashews—are the nuts of choice.
- Give it a touch of Spain. Cubes of cheese—like Cabrales, Roncal and Mahón, thin slices of serrano ham (similar to prosciutto), chorizo sausages, almonds, fresh and dried figs and Marinated Olives are popular choices. Mix and match what you like and what fits the season.
- Small-plate recipes can easily be adapted from meal-size versions by cutting a pizza, for example, into those bite-size portions or skewering kabobs on shorter cocktail picks.
- Fill a basket with thinly sliced baguette-style French bread.
Tapas Entertaining with Flair
- Create an atmosphere for friendly, relaxed conversation—your deck, a porch and snack stations throughout a family room—no matter what the location for your tapas gathering.
- The sun-drenched Mediterranean is your color key. Have plenty of plates and napkins—paper will do—as tapas are finger food.
- Feeling crafty? Assemble this impressive Green Olive Tree. Or use pots of rosemary. Give pots a colorful wrap of paper and tie with raffia.
- Bring out those tall glass vases or hurricanes. Fill with clementines, lemons or limes.