Holiday Take-Out: Cocktail Party Hors d'Oeuvres

Fail-safe gourmet grab-and-go noshes for an instant cocktail party
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Yes, yes, it’s a busy time of year. So you might talk yourself out of having friends in for a holiday gathering, because there’s too much to do.

But you owe it to yourself to embrace the quality time and shake off worrying about how to pull it off. These exceptionally reliable items will make quick work of a holiday cocktail party while taking you beyond hummus and baby carrots with chips and salsa on the side. You can get a little adventurous with not much extra effort.

As the country that perfected the small bites to enjoy with a bar tipple, you can trust the Spanish to supply great cocktail party options. They abound at The Spanish Table (Pike Place Market, 1426 Western Ave.; 206.682.2827; spanishtable.com), including Iberico ham, a slew of Spanish cheeses, jars of beautiful white asparagus, pickled peppers and other vegetables, and perfect snack crackers. But what we really love here is the ready-to-eat seafood: gorgeous tuna in olive oil, sardines in various sauces, mussels in escabèche, little stuffed squid. These can be served as is with crackers, or you can make quick crostini with a bit of fresh herbs and strips of roasted red pepper.

Artisan salami? Why yes, thank you, of course we’d love some. There are more salami options than ever, which doesn’t change the fact that our favorites are still those from that little nook of a salumeria in Pioneer Square, Salumi (309 Third Ave. S; 206.621.8772; salumicuredmeats.com). For the entertaining season, agrumi salami (with cardamom, orange peel and red chile flakes) or the seasonal (studded with red and green peppercorns) are particularly apt options. And a new featured mustard salami, available now, is flecked throughout with mustard seed. All of these ($18/pound)—plus Salumi’s other year-round offerings—will effortlessly jump-start your party. It’s never too early to order ahead; be sure to tell the staff if you want your salami presliced or whole.

You can also find Salumi products at Metropolitan Market and DeLaurenti (which carries a special private-label rosemary salami made just for the store).

Given the name, it’s pretty clear that a stop at Seattle Caviar Company (Eastlake, 2922 Eastlake Ave. E; 206.323.3005; caviar.com) will instantaneously add flair to your entertaining plans. All its caviars ($10–$270 per 2-ounce tin) are sustainably sourced, so indulge with a clear conscience. The caviar can top any number of items, from crackers to deviled eggs, including the blini the shop sells frozen (regular $9.50/gluten-free $12.50)—but there’s much more than just caviar here. Pick up some quail eggs to fry and perch atop a crostini with ham and cheese (like a mini croque madame).

Foie gras comes both ready to serve, or raw for you to cook as you wish. Winter truffles are available to shave over anything and everything. While at the shop, you’ll see great options for gifts as well.

On Thursday evenings, it offers tastings ($25, including wine), though during most business hours you can request an impromptu tasting as well.

Go back to the main Ultimate Holiday Take-Out Feast article.