Ah, tapas. Otherwise known as How to Entertain and Hate Yourself.
I love the casual, congenial atmosphere that comes from a table full of shared foods. Tapas is the perfect thing for entertaining, with one major caveat. Only do it if you are feeding 4-6 people; any more than that any it becomes a major catering operation – not a stress-free time. Follow my guidance and you will enjoy yourself, and feed your friends some rather fabulous food in the process.
Once the numbers are under control, my main complaint with tapas is the food tends to be insubstantial and sauce-reliant. This is fine for picking, but to feed a group as the main meal it is essential that everyone leaves feeling as though they have eaten. It is for this reason – and a logistical one – that I suggest those “small” plates give way to “medium” ones. (Apologies to the Spaniards.)
I want a big pile of whatever it is we’re eating. Snatching one of the five available shrimp from between several other people is awkward and exhausting – definitely not what we’re going for. Serve generous quantities piled into relatively small dishes so they all fit on the table. Now we’re in for a good time.
For six people, I’d go for three meats, three vegetables and two starches, or thereabouts, all in generous quantities. A variety of make-ahead, last minute and a strong representation of shop-bought things make for a manageable and interesting experience. Serve everything together, sit down with a glass of sangria and join the party.
To serve, lay the table with colourful napkins, lanterns and plenty of serving spoons. Set out some trivets if you have them, or lay a few folded tea towels down the centre of the table. Hit play on a Spanish playlist and relax into your tapas evening!
Clockwise from top: red pepper chicken; a table of crispy potatoes, mixed olives, aioli, bread and griddled asparagus; peppers stuffed with feta and breadcrumbs; cured meats, olives, bread and Cava.