Tapas time

Tapas parties are gaining popularity around the world. Tapas is a dish of savory bite-sized snacks that are designed to be shared and enjoyed. Spanish bars often have their own variety of tapas, which has lead to the Spanish tradition of a tapas crawl, traveling from bar to bar sampling the various kinds of tapas. Many of us love throwing dinner parties, but are looking for creative spins on the traditional get together. Throwing a tapas party is a great idea, as it is simple to prepare for and makes for an intimate and memorable night.
The key to hosting one of these Spanish inspired parties is to prepare four to five different tapas dishes and offer several types of Spanish wines. However, bring out the dishes separately, spread out one dish every half hour or so, instead of bringing the dishes all out at once. If you want your guests out of there quick you may want to bring everything out at once to end the party early. Part of the reason you will want to bring out the dishes one at a time, though, is so that each one can be tasted and enjoyed individually, then the next dish is being served before everyone has filled up on the current one. Of course, part of the reason we host parties is to impress our friends, which is why tapas parties lend themselves to our egocentric lifestyles. Tapas dishes are best served just after they are finished being cooked so you can impress your guests as they watch you finish your preparations.
A cost-effective option for planning your tapas party is to do a tapas party potluck. Having each guest bring at least two tapas dishes allows everyone to share the cost and to take the pressure off the host. There are a variety of web pages that offer a variety of different tapas recipes so it should be easy for everyone to find something that is easy enough to make, no matter the skills of the chef. You can even create recipe cards for each of your guests so that they have something to reference if they can’t find anything online that they like. It is considerate to take into account the abilities and budgets of your guests to ensure that they don’t feel overwhelmed by an outrageous looking recipe card.
RSVPs are very important in these types of parties so that you know how many people are coming and how many platters to make. When your guests arrive, play music — it’s usually a given with any party to add a bit of atmosphere, but with your Spanish theme you may want to play it up with some Gipsy Kings or Rosario.
To add a little bit of fun, light-hearted competition to the party you can have your guests vote on their favorite tapas. This allows for an interactive atmosphere, and a bit of fun competition never hurt anyone.
Drinks are an important part of any party. Sherry is the traditional partner for tapas as the nutty, slightly salty qualities of a fino or manzanilla sherry match perfectly with the tangy, salty and savory flavors in the tapas. When guests arrive, offer them a small glass of chilled sherry to sip as they begin to enjoy the first few bites of the tapas you have lined up to serve first. Some recommendations are Emilio Lustau Puerto Fino sherry or Bodega Hidalgo Manzanilla “La Gitana” sherry.

If you’re in need of a starting point to build your tapas party menu, a few tapas favorites are calamares fritos or calamares a la Romana (fried squid), gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp), jamón, queso y chorizo con pan (ham, cheese and chorizo with bread) or patatas bravas (fried potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce).

So forget the daunting affair of a dinner party with all the courses to prepare, the fancy table setting and being chained to the stove when your guests are over, unable to socialize. The tapas party allows for much of the prep work to be done ahead of time with significantly less cooking involved, and depending on what you serve you may not even have to turn the stove on. The options are endless, so if you’re looking to host a party, why not make it a tapas party?