Tapas, Small plates, Amuse Bouche, etc... 1/10/09

 

The set up

Tapas is the name of a wide variety of appetizers in Spanish cuisine.  In Spain dinner is served very late, usually served between 9:00PM and 11:00PM, leaving a huge gap between work and dinner.  So what do Spaniards do between work and dinner?  Well they often go bar hopping and eat tapas in the time when work is over and just before dinner time.

It is very common for a bar or small local restaurant to have 8 to 12 different kinds of tapas.  They are often strongly flavored with garlic, chilies, paprika, cumin, olive oil,  saffron, etc... (all the good ingredients from Spain).  Tapas became popular amongst people (mostly young crowd) who could not afford a fancy meal,  as a way to have some food while drinking, and therefore avoiding the unpleasant effect of drinking on an empty stomach!

Outside of Spain tapas have evolved into an entire cuisine, it is not a quick snack at the bar but rather a combination of many different small plates to make a full meal and that is what I have in mind when I invited everyone for a Tapas dinner.

We have a small dinning room so I have to find a way to be able to sit 18 people so I extended our dinning table with two extra leaves and on top of that we still have to add a foldable table at the end.  In the end I think our table was about 12 feet long!

As I was setting up my table I knew I wanted two main colors: white and silver.

So in the end I went with white plates with silver rim, accented with silver plate charger, silverware on white table cloth and a few sheer sheets of window treatment to add some layers to the table.

I added a Christmas ornament on each plate and used it as a name tag holder.  When you have so many people over it is better to have a seat assignment and it is also fun to look for you name tag!

Close up at my Tapas Menu card.

Hurricane with white candle decorated with a festive branch served as center piece.

 Bunch of white roses also serve as a center piece.

 

It took me a while to come up with a concept for my Tapas Menu.  I wanted to hand out a menu without really revealing what is exactly on the menu.  So I made a large square with a bunch of columns and then filled them with sometime only part of a dish for example: Dungeness crab meat was in one column and further down on a different column Piquillo Peppers.  So basically, our guests has to put 2 and 2 together and figure out that the name of the dish is Piquillo Peppers with Dungeness crab meat.  I know it is not that easy to figure it out.

Here is the close up at the menu.  The mistake I made is I forgot that all of us are over 40 and for most of us it  was a challenge to read this menu in a room that was lit mostly by candles light.

Cocktail

Cocktails were served while waiting for all the guests to arrive

Phuc gracefully offered to be our bartender for the evening.

A few conversation amongst the ladies over cocktail.

Next... Sitting down for Dinner

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