Thursday, June 7, 2012

Dinner Party Series: Assorted Antipasti

Chances are, Dollinks, the best meals you’ve ever eaten have been enjoyed slowly, each bite so good that you’ve wanted it to linger on the palate. Antipasti is like that - an interesting selection of nibbles that provide a contrast in taste, texture, and color. On its own, pickled asparagus may have a sharp taste, but paired with prosciutto? The universe shifts. Good food … good wine … good company … Antipasti works perfectly for all the above. 

Before I served Lasagna (see the Index for Main Dish: Lasagna) at a dinner party this week, my guests enjoyed a platter of Antipasti - Niçoise olives, pimiento-stuffed olives, kalamata olives, gherkins, tiny white onions, smoked mussels, grilled marinated artichokes, prosciutto, salami, cheese (I couldn’t find Italian mortadella or fontina, so settled for Cambozola; no one kvetched), Parmesan crisps, and a few other small things. What you serve is up to you, but offer a variety of flavors to tickle the tongue.

A gorgeous platter of Antipasti will set a mood in which everyone feels comfortable and relaxed. Good music (preferably Italian) does the same, as does the scent of something delicious in the oven in la cucina. Splurge on a good Italian wine, or mineral water, or both. Set your table with flair, whether the traditional red and white, or the green, white, and red of the Italian flag. If you really want to go all out, start the theme at your doorstep, with faux grapes dangling from the door knocker.

When I couldn’t find any cloth red and white table napkins, I cut new dish cloths in half and stitched the edges. Candles? Make them red! Try in every small way you can to further your theme.

When the party’s over, put it all away for “next time” - different guests, new menu. I served Caesar Salad (previously blogged in this space), but didn’t make Tiramisu because I was short on fridge space. Do only what you can easily do and don’t sweat the rest. If you can't make it, buy it. My dinners are full of little mistakes, but we have so much fun that no one notices. If you don’t have fun, your guests won’t have fun - and fun is why you’re doing this! Click on the photos to enlarge them.

Beg, borrow, or buy a large platter or tray.

Picked onions and olives: Contrast color, texture, and taste.

Sun-dried tomatoes and prosciutto.

Gherkins, pitted kalamata olives.

Grilled artichokes, a slab of soft cheese.

Smoked oysters, spicy salami.

Grapes provide a sweet burst of flavor ...

And color! Two small bunches will do!

Set the mood as you set your table.

I bought these plates on sale for $1 apiece in Oregon:
No sales tax, VAT, or HST! Look for bargains! 
Tomorrow, a recipe Ive relied upon for years: My Absolutely Easy Antipasto! Yes, you read it right. The name is similar to todays post, but the result is quite different. Antipasto (singular) is one dish; Antipasti (plural) is many. This recipe combines many different elements to produce a delicious Italian favorite youll want to serve heaped on crackers. I know youll love it!

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