Running a busy catering department means that I spend approximately 99 percent of my waking hours thinking about party food. All things considered, it’s a pretty great preoccupation to have. Party food is especially fun to think about this time of year when just about any evening is guaranteed to be long and bright, perfect for entertaining. These are the days, my friends, and they are limited. Summer is (kind of) here, and it’s time to party.
Let me tell you, I have thrown just about every kind of party under the sun, and go figure, my parties always revolve primarily around the food. This week I’ve got Spain on the brain, and my tapas party shopping couldn’t be easier; in fact, I don’t even have to leave Surdyk’s! Lucky for me, our Cheese Shop is the place to find those particularly hard-to-find items you thought you’d have to order online. Tapas are actually pretty easy if you’ve got the right ingredients. Here’s my menu for this weekend’s tapas bash, and best yet, it’s a no-cook kind of deal:
Pulpo: This one couldn't be easier. No need to tenderize this octopus—simply crack open a tin or two of Matiz Pulpo in Olive Oil and arrange on a plate with a sprinkling of sea salt and pimentón. Serve it at room temperature.
Ventresca-Stuffed Piquillos: Another easy crowd-pleaser. Ortiz Ventresca de Bonito del Norte (Spanish tuna belly) is one of my favorite fancy pantry staples; rich, buttery, and tender, it's basically saltwater's answer to foie gras. Keep it simple—I like to mix my ventresca up with a healthy amount of Spanish olive oil (Zoe is the choice at my house and at Surdyk's), lemon zest, a little shallot, and some fresh herbs. Stuff the salad inside Dantza Whole Piquillo Peppers and you've got an instant winner.
Boquerones and Olive Skewers: Boquerones, briny white anchovies marinated in vinegar, are an obsession of mine. Skewer them with a green olive such as Sevillane con Limon and a cherry tomato. Bonus points awarded for saffron aioli to dip.
Chorizo and Idiazabal Toasts: Nothing beats the newest addition to our sausage selection, the salty, earthy, and garlicky Chorizo Seco from Charlito's Cocina. Layer slices of it with shavings of Idiazabal, a smoky sheep's milk cheese, and a drizzle of olive oil on a slice of Rustica baguette.
The rest of the menu is even easier. Set out bowls of Arbequina olives, Marcona almonds, quince membrillo, and Matiz piparras. Arrange a few wedges of cheese on a wood cutting board—Monte Enebro, Roncal, and MitiBleu are my current go-tos —and don't forget a pile of paper-thin slices of Serrano. I'm leaving the drinks up to Surdyk's beverage guru Lindsey Coleman; her Kalimotxos are even easier than Sangria. Something tells me this is going to be fun.
—Emily Dunne, @surdykscheese