Party Time: Birthday Tapas Night

A while back, I hosted a combination birthday/game night party for one of my good friends. I had been wanting to do tapas-style food for a while, and I figured a birthday celebration would be the perfect opportunity. I got the inspiration from a novel I read, of all places – the main characters go to Spain, blah blah blah, I won’t bore you with specifics – but the description of the food sounded incredible. There is also a popular tapas-style restaurant in the area that I got a few ideas from. I researched some recipes on Pinterest and ended up putting together what was (in my humble opinion) one of my tastiest menus in recent memory.

We start with Albondigas, or meatballs in spicy tomato sauce. These are a staple at most tapas restaurants, and with good reason. Tender, flavorful meatballs, browned and simmered in a spicy red sauce. I served some pieces of fresh baguette along side of them, perfect to soak that sauce all up. This recipe makes a ton of meatballs, and I made the mistake of doubling it. For four people. Eating albondigas for a *week*, I was. Without complaints.

Next up was something the birthday girl spied amongst all my pinning, and left a comment along the lines of, “YES PLEASE,” underneath it. How could I refuse?

These Chorizo and Puff Pastry Bites with spicy dipping sauce were definitely a good choice. The recipe itself is not complicated, but the construction was a tad frustrating for me. Mine obviously do not resemble the ones in the picture that accompanies the original recipe, but I’m fairly certain they tasted just as good. I was worried about using raw chorizo and puff pastry together — if the pastry would cook faster than the chorizo, etc. —  and while a few of them did get a little “well done” on the bottom, I think they came out fine. I would perhaps flip them halfway through baking, or roll the chorizo out a little thinner before assembling.

To compliment everything I threw a couple noshy bites together as well — I wasn’t particularly thrilled with any of these and could have absolutely omitted them given the amount of people I was hosting this time around.

See? Kind of…meh. On top are some roasted chick peas, bottom right marinated olives, and bottom left sweet & spicy roasted almonds. I know for next time to focus on the main dishes and not bother with the stuff that people (including myself) will barely touch.

While I was planning the menu it became apparent we were going to need a non-meat option. But I was not about to sully all of this Spanish magnificence with some lame veggie plate, oh heavens no. So I came up with this, which will soon have its own post complete will full recipe:

Smoked paprika roasted cauliflower bites with roasted garlic aioli. Dudes. This was AMAZING. One of my guests was, by his own admission, not a “cauliflower fan”, nor does he like any kind of creamy, mayonnaise-based sauce, but this? He couldn’t get enough of. I couldn’t, either. I would have been happy with just cauliflower for dinner that night, honestly.

But then I would have missed out on this (brace yourselves, vegetarians).

I mean.

Garlic Brown Sugar Flank Steak with Chimichurri. So moist, so tender, so full of flavor. And the chimichurri on top of it was such the perfect compliment for the meat. (Side note: how have I never made chimichurri before? More chimichurri in my life, please.) I *need* to make this again, and soon. I might play around with it a little and turn it into kabobs. I’ll never tell. Okay, maybe I will.

To compliment all of this food I served three different kinds of wine, a Spanish Rioja, a tasty Fume Blanc from Sonoma, and a bubbly Spanish Cava. It’s not a party without something sparkling.

Lest I forget, we of course had dessert. Because how can you have a birthday without cake? I was planning on a showstopper of a cake; three layers of lemon chiffon, with tart lemon curd in between, all covered in strawberry swiss buttercream. In my head, it was magnificent. In person, however…

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HAHAHAHAHAAAAAAA. It tasted damn good, at least.