Those little small bites, they’re popping up everywhere! Tapas in Spain, Cantonese dim sum, yakitori in Japan, Greek meze. These small bites have been around for generations. Such a great way to be introduced to a culture’s food. Perfect with a glass of wine! And it IS Friday, after all!
Small Bites are all the rage these days. Walk into any urban bar and there will be an eclectic selection of tasty bites like goat cheese stuffed dates wrapped in bacon or lobster mac and cheese or slivers of sashimi with drops of tangerine sauce. All washed down with a glass of wine or a mixologist’s latest cocktail. All kinds of dining and drinking places in America have replaced their appetizer and hors d’oeuvres menus with small plates or small bites. Same thing, right? But I find it a fun way to try different foods and to share with friends at the same time.
Dim sum, a Chinese tradition that began as a tea service for weary travelers on the Silk Road, is a meal with many small courses that should be lingered over. One of my favorite dim sum experiences has been at Yank Sing in San Francisco. The rolling carts carry all sorts of tasty, savory treats: lobster dumplings, steamed buns bursting with flavorful BBQ pork, crispy fried squid, and a perfect bite of crispy duck. Pair these wonderful tastes with a fragrant jasmine tea.
Yakitori: meat, usually chicken, sometimes firm tofu, vegetables, scallions, or even pork belly skewered and then grilled over charcoal . . . what could be more tempting while you’re walking down the street after a hard day of work? The skewers can be sprinkled just with salt (shio) or with a basting sauce called tare, usually with soy sauce, mirin, sake and little sugar and sometimes ginger. Add a cold beer and you’re set for the train ride home.
Greek meze is designed to enhance your drink (wines, ouzo, etc.) and to be shared with friends. Sounds like happy hour, doesn’t it? I read that meze had its origins in the Persian word maze, meaning “taste, flavor, smack, relish” (http://realgreekrecipes.blogspot.com/2011/03/16-popular-greek-mezes-and-side-dishes.html). Some great Greek mezes are kalamata olives, fried cheese, dolmades, and lamb meatballs with fresh mint and a feta dipping sauce.
For my family, we love Spanish tapas. The Spanish have long been offering little bites of food to go with their wine (on a small plate to cover your glass and keep bugs out of your wine). Little bites of seasoned almonds, bunuelos popping with savory manchego, or perfectly grilled lamb lollipops . . . a great way to get the conversation going. Tapas have become our pre-Thanksgiving tradition with everyone contributing their own favorite Spanish taste to go with a great Spanish red wine.
So go out with friends and share some small bites.
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