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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hosting a Tapas Party


Everybody loves tapas! They are the very essence of life in Spain. It is such an essential ingredient to Spanish life that the Spanish people have a word for the ritual of tapas bar hopping, tapeo!

Tapas are In and Tapas are Hot so I have chosen our first blog to feature the well loved tapa and where better to celebrate this wonderful tradition then in your own home, where you can share tapas with friends by hosting your own tapas party! 

Hosting a tapas party is a fantastic way to get friends together to enjoy some great wine and food and celebrate this fantastic cultural gift to the world, from Spain. My main resource for this blog comes from Janet Mendel's wonderful homage to tapas called “tapas a bite of Spain”. In her book Janet writes about the Tapas way of life, Planning a tapas party,  and shares her favorite tapas sourced from her thirty years plus living in Spain. Her book, published by Santana Books can be bought via our online shop.
In Spain it is a way of life to stop in a tapas bar on your way home from lunch or dinner and have a vineto, a little glass of wine, or cañita, a short beer with just one small tapa or if you go out with a group of friends, and visiting several tapas bars, then your de tapeo, on a tapas crawl! The tapeo is a movable feast, where you stop by one tapas bar to taste its house speciality and then move onto the next bar to try something else, then onto another for yet another round. The tapas experience is not just about the food and the drink, although this is a big part! its about, as Janet Mendel writes "conviviality". In Spain going out for tapas is a social event. It is with this vision in mind that you plan your tapas party.
Planning your Tapas Party.                                                                                                         Part of the tapas tradition is that you eat them standing up.   In many popular tapas bars, space is at a premium and there’s no room for tables, so you stand at the bar. This tradition translates well to a party atmosphere.  Whether your party is for a few friends, a drinks party for 10 to 20 people or a sit down dinner party, serving Spanish Tapas is a wonderful way to entertain.  Here are a few hints from, Janet Mendel,  to think about when planning your tapas party.
Calculate quantities?
-For six  to eight people allow for at least four different tapas. Each person will eat three or four of each one.
-For twelve people allow six to eight tapas, a guest will eat two or three of each.
-For parties more then 12, serve as many as 12 different tapas and expect each person to eat two or three.

What type of party, traditional tapas style or sit down dinner?                                                                                     Think about whether your guests be seated at a table or moving around the room standing or sitting where they choose. If they are seated you can present some tapas in individual small dishes with spoons or forks, so saucy foods are ok. If your guests are to be standing with a glass of wine or sangria in one hand, they will only be able to pick up tapas that are easily handled with one hand. Tapas on tooth picks or on bread are best.

What to serve it in?                                                                                   
Photo courtesy of Orce Serrano Hams
Think about your serving capacity. You will need lots of small serving dishes/side plates. Make sure you have enough to go around. If you don’t have enough then plan tapas that can be picked up from a tray and don’t require dishes. Make sure you provide plenty of napkins as even finger foods can be a little messy. In Spain, tapas are served in little cazuelitas, pottery dishes, for individual tapas. At Artesano we sell a full range of cazuelitas ( the smaller sizes) or cazuelas the larger sizes for more then a single serve (racion).

How much and when to serve?
Tapas have their pace, which is leisurely. And a tapa is a small bite of food, an individual portion. So with these two key components in mind instead of serving all the tapas at once, try setting out one to two  tapas dishes every half-hour or so, that way your guests will taste each tapa individually and before they fill up on the current tapa, the next one is being served. 

Photo courtesy of Orce Serrano Hams
Use small plates about the size of a side plate. Although your tapas party, may have never been intended to include dinner, allow for some guests arriving early and staying late. On one hand make sure the tapas are substantial enough but don’t try and feed guests a meal. As Janet says you just want to titillate their taste buds.  (See our range of tapas plates and bowls in our online shop).


Well you cant really have a tapas party without several jugs of Sangria. You can serve it in any sort of jug but if you want an authentic looking table have a look at our Sangria jugs in our online shop. There are many many great Sangria recipes available we have included Janet Mendels red wine Sangria in our blog recipes, you will find the links below. Here in Australia you can buy Spanish wines, for example wines from La Rioja are excellent, and beer, for example Moritz, can be found at selected bottle shops if you want to have more of an authentic feel.
                                                                                                                                                        Review our tapas range of products at our online shop
I have selected some of the most well-known and popular tapas for you to choose from and have chosen recipes with ingredients that are easy to come by here in Australia. Tapas can be as simple as serving “aceitunas alinadas” (marinated olives) and “almendras fritas” (fried almonds) or there are those that take a bit more time like a Tortilla Espanola (Spanish Omlette) and Mejillones Rellenos (Spanish stuffed mussel). Of course no tapas party can go without some jugs of sangria served chilled.
Click on the link below for tapas recipes
Sangria - Red Wine Sangria
Almendras Fritas - Fried Almonds  
Aceitunas Aliñadas - Marinated Olives
Alioli - Garlic Mayonnaise
Salsa de Tomate Frito - Tomato Sauce
Tortilla de Patatas - Potato Tortilla
Patatas Al-i-Oli – Garlic Potatoes
Calamares fritos _ Fried Squid Rings
Gambas al ajillo – Garlic Prawns
Tigres – Tigers (stuffed mussels)
Chorizo ​​a la Sidra - Chorizo in Cider

Una buena alimentación!