The festive season is around the corner and house parties with friends and family are going to fill your schedules. The hautest trend on the party scene is Tapas style parties in which the focus is on an array of appetizers rather than an elaborate meal. Here are two ideas for great gatherings this festive season.
A Mediterranean Mezze
Mezze is the practice of serving small plates of tasty food with drinks all over the Mediterranean. Not only is it visually appealing, but also makes life easier on the host who is free to enjoy the occasion once the Mezze is laid out. A Mezze-themed party is a relaxed way to entertain.
It will offer an element of exoticism and fun, allowing for variety and colour with everything from décor to food and offers the host a chance to actually spend time with their guests. Mezze style dining calls for a variety of simple, cold foods served together. It allows the host to lay out a large variety of dishes without spending the entire evening in the kitchen. Especially since the great thing is that the Mezze IS the meal and needs nothing more. In addition to being a great way to serve food, it is also healthy, allowing one to avoid overdosing on the usual fried finger foods.
Lay out Mezze bowls and platters on a large buffet table or multiple low coffee tables around the room. Plan to serve lots of dips like Hummus, Labneh, Tzatziki, Baba Ganouj that can be made ahead, and salads like tabouleh and fatoush that require a little assembly just before serving. Add a lot of black, green and stuffed olives, cheeses, roasted nuts, pickled vegetables, dried berries and fresh fruit wedges, pita and Lavash bread to the offerings. Also include a few bottles of good wine and a couple of good desserts and you’re on your way to a great evening!
A lovely sweet to serve to finish with is Baklava. This rich and delicious sweet is the perfect union of nutty and sweet and can be made ahead with readymade phyllo pastry or other similar thin party sheets from our international section.
Place the food in large chunky earthen bowls and hand painted ceramic crockery in shades of blue and yellow which is typical of the Middle East and Mediterranean. If you are expecting a big crowd, plan on multiple serving bowls of each item – better to have three small bowls of hummus rather than just one big one. Add pretty patterned napkins and let everyone help themselves!
For décor, use draping fabrics of earthy reds, yellows and turquoise and blues on low coffee tables and scatter colourful floor cushions to sit on. Keep the lighting muted and sparkle up the room with clusters of chunky candles of different heights.
A Spanish Tapas Party
Another great idea is a Spanish Tapas Party. Spanish cuisine is still young in India, but it is quickly becoming the cuisine in vogue. In the Spanish cuisine, dinner is very different from what we know it to be. It is a small, light meal, often eaten at a tapas bar. Tapas originated in the bars of Spain. The word tapa translates to ‘cover’ or ‘lid’ and the earliest tapas were slices of ham, cheese or bread laid across patrons’ sherry glasses to keep the insects out. They have now translated to a variety of hot or cold dishes that can be served in small portions.
This is a good style of dining for New Year’s Eve parties because while everyone’s focus is on drinks, and the starters are constantly munched on, a main course meal may be neglected by many. But with a Tapas party, the main course is completely omitted and the tapas are the whole meal.
Like the Mezze, with this style too, it is convenient for the host to provide variety. One can lay out some cooked tapas dishes which are simple to put together a little in advance. Some delicious ones include patatas bravas, sizzling shrimp, empanadas, and some braised mushrooms or peppers that can be served on toasted slices of baguette, but the options are virtually endless. To accompany this, you can also serve some ready foods such as roasted almonds, stuffed olives, and a cold meat platter, all of which are available on our shelves. Spanish wines, sherries and sangria are ideal to pair with this feast. Lay out the spread in a buffet style and arrange small plates in stacks so guests can serve themselves. Also supply cocktail sticks for spearing food and colourful cloth or paper napkins.
Décor should be centered on rich, rustic red hues that are associated with Spain, and some upbeat Spanish guitar music is perfect to set the fiesta mood.
These are just a few ideas to spice up your festivity, but a point to remember is when the host has fun planning a party, the guests have an even bigger ball of a time!