Tapas on Main in Bethlehem and eateries like it have introduced the popular Spanish cuisine to Lehigh Valley. Now it's time to take it home and couple it with traditional Pennsylvania hospitality.
A tapas party is a great way to introduce your Lehigh Valley neighborhood to the traditional Spanish style of casual eating based on small plates and small portions. This wildly popular trend featuring Mediterranean–style snacks and appetizers is is gaining popularity in Allentown and Bethlehem for its high style, rich variety and healthful ingredients. It also offers the perfect setup for the low–maintenance host. Shop at Carino's Specialty Foods in Ardmore for finger foods like olives, cheese and the fixings for small bocadillo sandwiches, or prepare the more elaborate manchego–stuffed piquillo peppers. Pottery Barn designer Celia Tejada shows you how to create right here in Lehigh Valley an ambience inspired by the rustic, outdoor style of her California wine country ranch, Tejada Vineyards. Her videos give step–by–step instructions in cooking tortilla Española and albondigas meatballs, family tapas recipes from her Pyrenees mountain village in Northern Spain, and a refreshing cocktail featuring her homemade limoncello liqueur. In your own home, the friendly, communal nature of tapas invites guests to contribute their own small plates and wines to create something more than just a party – a new way of eating and a global way of living.
In a tapas party, variety is truly the spice of life. The more guests who come, the more kinds of food there are – letting you get away with minimal cooking while creating an inherently fun and boisterous affair. Decide first if you want to keep the menu strictly Spanish or if you’d like to open it up to other Mediterranean foods, including italian, Greek and southern French cuisines. Ask each guest to bring one or two tapas and a bottle of wine to share, recommending local spacialty groceries and a cookbook of simple tapas recipes like Tapas: Sensational Small Plates from Spain by Joyce Goldstein.
Shoot for an outdoor space on a sunny afternoon, especially since tapas are traditionally daytime snacks. In the middle of the space, set a grand table or multiple patio tables lined together and covered with a pretty runner or simple linen cloth.
Dedicate another table – or even better, a wheeled bar cart – for wine bottles, openers and glasses. Spanish red wines like riojas and tempranillos pair perfectly with tapas. Also have a tub of ice ready for other traditional accompainments like delicate sherries, sparkling cavas and Lambruscos, crisp rosés and albariños. Encouraging guests to bring unexpected wines makes the event as much of a wine–tasting as a tapas party.
Take a casual decorating cue from Celia, and keep accessories earthy, the way it’s done in the Spanish countryside. That means no fussy tablecloths, delicate glasses or fragile dishware. Instead keep outdoor decor simple and heavy duty. Serve – and even cook – in traditional clay cazuela dishes. With old–world authenticity, the red terra cotta of our Mezze serving set strikes the right rustic tone for the table. Offer guests simple white dessert plates that they can rinse and reuse, especially since paper plates don’t wear well with constant refreshing.
Celia chose ripe lemons to be the symbol of her party and subtly threaded the theme throughout. Lemons appear in the table linens, in homemade limoncello as her signature beverage and in a flan de limón for dessert, as well as whole fragrant lemons strewn about the table.
Galvanized metal accessories add a weathered charm, and cold drinks served in thick, blown glass tumblers function to keep drinks cool and resist shattering. Mason jar candleholders strung above the table each contain an herb sprig whose scent is released by the lit votive, a relaxed yet romantic touch as the sun goes down.
Serve your authentic recipes in the earthy, red clay vessels designed for them. The traditional terra cotta of our Mezze Entertaining Set brings to your tapas party a distinctly European appeal. Each hand-painted, glazed piece – tabouleh bowl, condiment set, chip and dip, appetizer plates and crudité platter – is designed to serve the ritual Mediterranean mezze of small–plate appetizers.
Full of weathered style, yet tough, light and affordable, Galvanized Metal is our favorite material for outdoor entertaining. Serve ice water and lemonade in the mini pitcher and use the double caddy for self–serve silverware. Designate the round trays for empty dishes and glasses. Our three–tiered stand saves space on a table laden with small plates.
Celia’s limoncello cocktails over ice taste especially summery in our thick, hand blown Casa Glassware. Rimmed in blue, with heavy shams, these rustic glasses come sized for shots, margaritas and tall goblets.
Echo your party’s Mediterranean theme with our lemon–and–olive printed linens. Used together, the cotton napkins, placemats and runner create a theme that suits the cuisine. Our simple linen hemstitch napkins and tablecloth in white or natural offer a simple complement to the patterned print.
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