Rather than three big meals a day, Mediterranean lifestyles favor casual eating from small plates. A party that centers around Spanish tapas always pleases a crowd — and the host — especially when it's served potluck and buffet–style. We asked expert Joyce Goldstein for recipes from her book, Tapas: Sensational Small Plates from Spain. We have everything you need for a beautiful and authentic table, with petite dishware collections made especially for small–plate entertaining. Take the party outdoors café–style, just like in Madrid, where the communal nature of eating tapas, drinking wine and people-watching has always been an experience to share.
With Mediterranean, Arabic and African influences, Spanish cuisine and style has always been full of exotic color, earthy materials and natural textures. In creating this party, think beyond basic white and make your theme all about color and texture. In food, dishes and display, don't be afraid to go bright.
Start with an invitation in vivid hues that calls on guests to bring their favorite tapas — the more dishes the better. Guide them to Goldstein's book for culinary inspiration. As the host, choose one or two recipes to start off the party with larger quantities. Nuts, olives and cheeses make great basics. The goal is to taste, so steer the menu toward bite–sized preparations, finger foods and interesting salads.
We love the idea of bringing a large table outside and eating in the sunshine. A paisley runner colored like Moorish tiles looks festive under small plates of terra–cotta painted in many different colors. Leave them casually stacked for everyone to fill and fill again. A colorful array of avocados, blood oranges and lemons on the table are not only edible in salads and sangrias, but add vibrant color. Bottles of Spanish rosé wines, white Marcona almonds, saffron seafoods and red sangrias are delicious and visually pleasing.
Have a supply of beautiful serving platters and bowls on–hand for guests who arrive with tapas in plastic or glass containers. Place water and wine glasses, flatware and linens near the drinks so guests can serve themselves. Be prepared for much lingering at the table — spicy, savory, cold or hot, tapas are lovely to behold and a pleasure to taste. The best part for the host who loves to decorate more than cook is that others spend time in the kitchen, while you design a beautiful, colorful stage for their creations.