Tapas Style: Cosmopolitan Cocktail + Dinner Parties

Hero image via kidspotdotcomdotau and foodandspicedotblogspotdotcom

I have a confession to make. When it comes to food, I have commitment issues. I’m defenceless before saucy aromas and exotic tastes. A restaurant menu represents exquisite pain. (It’s that either/or thing.) And, I’m ashamed to say, many an evening ends with me coveting my neighbour’s meal. 

Rustic platters

Wooden cheese boards and platters add decadent rustic accents to your tapas-style entertaining. Try the Marie Claire Vintage Decal Cheese Board or the Royal Doulton 1815 Wood Serving Board, available online at Zanui. Image source: via hillarydijon.com

For a self-confessed voluptuary, tapas is like an illicit haven. Platters of spicy chorizo, slivers of salty cured jamon, pimento-stuffed olives, garlicky potatoes, the romance of manchego cheese, battered and fried baby squid all served up in company with citrus-infused sangria… So many flavours, so little obligation. Sampling is encouraged. And no one passes judgement when you go for seconds, thirds, fourths, fifths – that’s the whole point! Heaven.

Royal Doulton 1815 Collection

The Royal Doulton 1815 Collection of tapas serving and indulging plates features half-dipped glazes inspired by a technique used by Doulton in the 1800s. Bright in colour yet chic and sophisticated

Visually enticing and fragrantly spiced, tapas feels like culinary artistry. With so many inviting plates of tastiness, it makes for impressive at-home entertaining. A buffet style set-up encourages conversation and it works equally well for a stand-up winter cocktail party. From straightforward to sophisticated, hearty to rustic, many dishes lend themselves to pre-preparation so you can relax and enjoy your guests’ company.

AND you can cater for all your gluten-free, low-glycaemic, high-protein, vegan, pro-alkaline, lactose-intolerant friends without condemning everyone to a meal of mashed chickpeas. (Ummm…)

Display your tapas in chic serving ware

Tapas makes for a great visual spread. From pristine white platters to terracotta dishes and Mediterranean-style patterns, the choice of aesthetic is purely personal. Image source from left: via jubileehotel.com.au and timeout.com

The Mediterranean way of life has undeniable romance. Rise late, make a pass by work, indulge in rich foods for lunch, siesta, make a pass at work again and then bar-hop your way through the evening towards a late and lazy dinner. What’s not to love? This kind of relaxed makes for the ultimate dinner party ambience.

Gordon Ramsay Bread Street and Royal Doulton 1815

The infamous Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street collection offers some stylish contemporary servingware just perfect for tapas-style entertaining. Royal Doulton 1815 offers a more classic approach in pastel tones. Available online at Zanui

Historically, tapas was born in the Andalusian taverns where a slice of bread or a sliver of meat was used to thwart the kamikaze tendencies of fruit flies surfing the intoxicating aromas of sherry. The bread/meat was placed across the top of the glass to prevent those tipsy critters from plunging to a sweet, sweet death. Taverners fired up their patrons’ thirst with these salty morsels and increased their alcohol sales. 

Terra Terracotta Serving Pan from Davis & Waddell, available online at Zanui

Spicy chilli chicken, semi-baked tomatoes on sweet potato balls and traditional favourites like patatas braves make tapas a favourite with the whole family. Serve it up straight from the oven (or microwave!) with the Terra Terracotta Serving Pan from Davis & Waddell, available online at Zanui. Image source from left: via fifisdeli.com and cutseveryday.com

Today tapas means much more than a bite-sized tidbits to pique your liquor consumption. From calamari sautéed in red wine, fennel, rosemary and tomato to smoky paprika peppers, patatas bravas and flash fried prawns with chilli, lemon and parsley, the allure of this kind of entertaining is self-evident. And with a host of dinner sets and serving plates designed for entertaining tapas-style, you can create a very personal aesthetic. 

Maxwell & Williams White Metrix

Catering for a tapas-style dinner party can be as simple as coordinating a series of white serving platters laden with sultry Spanish snacks. Maxwell & Williams offer some great options in the White Metrix range. Image source from left: via mensjournal.com and motherearthliving.com

Royal Doulton 1815 exploits a sophisticated old-school style pottery technique for chic elegance while Terra, Sante Fe and Pintado offer contemporary Mediterranean style. Or opt for classic rustic terracotta or sleek white serving dishes, paired with organic wood textures with a vintage cheese board to encourage irresistible decadence. 

Sizzling tapas

Turn the heat up with chargrilled seafood and meat dishes. Spoil your guests with delicacies cooked on your grill pan or nab a Terra Enamel Tapas Pan, 12cm, from Davis & Waddell for cook-and-serve functionality. Image source: via toreros.co.uk

Traditionally chilled dry Fino sherry is paired with tapas in Spain, but any sort of Spanish wine works. Explore robust red wines like Rioja and the longer-aged (and more exxy) Rioja Reservas and Gran Reservas, especially if you’re working with a meat-heavy menu. Spanish reds from the Ribera del Duero and Navarra regions also work a treat.

Sangria is a must at your Spanish soiree or a sweet fruit punch for those who refrain from alcohol. From left: Casa Domani Frutti Drink Dispenser and Krosno Vinoteca Stemless White Wine Glass, 400ml (Set of 6), available online at Zanui. Image source via marketcommonclarendon.com

If your menu errs on the seafood side, brisk, dry whites, particularly those made with the Verdejo grape, will be complimentary. Looking for something a little sweeter? Chardonnay-based wines from the Catalonia region are nothing short of divine.

And, of course, there is always sangria pitchers. Sangria is the perfect antidote for spicy food. There are as many variations of sangria as there are of wine itself, and the more fruit the better! 

Add a splash of playful colour with the Terra range (Davis & Waddell), Pintado, and Maxwell & Williams Sante Fe range, available online at Zanui.

Now all you need is a little Spanish guitar as the backdrop to the hum of conversation and you’re living la vida loca, as they say.

Hero image source via kidspot.com.au and foodandspice.blogspot.com

Kay is a feature, blog and copywriter. She collects empty jam jars, academic degrees and tawdry dreams in the hopes of turning them into something useful someday. Her work has been published in ACP magazines, ABC fiction, Overland, Brittle Star, Seizure, trade publications and online forums. Her creative writing has won several awards.