Friday, June 10, 2011

Waking the Palate - Appetizers Pave the Way

The appetizer is akin to a symphonic overture setting the stage for what’s to follow. Olives, capers, lemon, olive oil, crunchy bread, garlic, cheese, wine, salty, tart, spicy, sour can help start ringing the dinner bell. Appetizers have become a very important part of social life and facilitate our coming together.

When the weather turns unbearable, “grazing on appetizers” is highly appealing and can be completely extemporaneous. The diversity of savory dishes and a simple salad can be imminently attractive to your guest. It is more informal that a sit down dinner and easier on the chef. It has no set start or stop time and does not carry the more formal obligation to reciprocate. No rules, no place settings, no correct salad fork, just fun with friends.

As a chef, it is your chance to show your creativity not necessarily preparing all, or for that matter, any on the offerings but assembling a culinary collection of foods and wines that you find interesting and fun. Glorious summer is upon us.

Try a soft Chèvre (goat) cheese, which has a more pungent flavor than a cream cheese but a similar mouth feel.  It pairs exceptional well with herbs, toasted nuts, cracked black pepper, onion and garlic or may be topped with a fruit like grilled mango on a bruschetta.

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