Random Appetites: The 2-Bite Rule

I feel almost certain I’ve mentioned this once before, but it relates to recent events so maybe it’s worth going over once more.

Passed hors d’oevres or buffet foods should not exceed 2 bites-worth when ample table seating is not available.

This past Friday Todd and I attended the Florida Wine Festival. The event was very well-attended and certainly worth the price of admission for a few hours entertainment (and lets not forget the “endless glass of wine”). The catering was handled by Klassic Katering who, make no mistake, offered a variety of nibbles that were quite tasty. It was rather novel, actually, to see a “Slider Station” (you know, those little mini-burgers, served up with sauteed onions and your choice of sauces), entire chicken tenderloins (in teriyaki sauce, if I’m not mistaken) and trios of shrimp on sugar cane skewers. Do you know why it was novel? Because it violates the 2-bite rule.

Picture it, if you’ve never attended this sort of event: You’re walking around with a big ol’ wine glass (very nice, large-bowled tasting glasses that, if they had the little tulip-lip, would match my pinot noir glasses exactly) in one hand and a plate of something in the other. There are very few tables scattered about, certainly not enough for everyone to have even a bit of elbow room, and you’re faced with how to eat the morsels you’ve selected.

Now, generally, I’m pretty good at balancing my small plate on top of my wine glass and going from there but these plates were especially slippery and wouldn’t cooperate with my usual v.o. (victuali operandi). So, instead, I turn the fingers of one hand into a multi-level stacking system, hooking the stemware between two digits and the plate (along with napkin and program) on the others, balanced precariously with my thumb. At this point I’m grateful for the large glasses only because it alleviates the potential of spilling my wine.

The mini burgers are cute and tasty, but messy to eat and since this is a glorified cocktail reception and not a tailgate party, it’s more like 3 or 4 bites to your average consumer. The chicken (stretched out on a skewer for even cooking and “easy handling”) is only secured at each end and, about halfway consumed, loses it’s grip on the bamboo portion in my hand, bounces off my chest and hits the ground. How unfortunate. Finally, the shrimp. Now, I love the trend of using sugar cane skewers for seafood, it’s truly wonderful, but when you have to (one-handed, remember?) scoot the shrimp off the sugar cane and still have to divest the crustation of it’s remaining tail, eating this dish becomes a bit of a production!

So, how to fix it? Leave the sliders for more informal gatherings and serve up more varieties of meatballs, always a hit and easily a single munch each. Serve the chicken in cut-up chunks with plenty of toothpicks. (Forks were provided, and did come in handy, but it was still a lot to juggle as presented.) The shrimp, while cumbersome, really only needed to have the tails removed prior to serving, then it’s a more simple matter of scooting them off the sugar cane with your teeth (though I’d probably reduce the portion to 2 shrimp per skewer).

Other things I would have appreciated seeing would have been better signage on the dips and items in unmanned chafing dishes, just to know what it was supposed to be, before putting it on my plate or in my mouth!

Really, though, we did enjoy ourselves at the event, those few minor critiques aside, and do not regret the ticket purchase at all. We tasted a very yummy Argentinian Malbec that I’ll have to find some of because the spicy notes were really fun and a beautiful Grant Burge, 10 year oak aged Port ( looked tawny but tasted more like ruby) that totally made up for [Premiere Beverage] running out of Pinot Noir in the first hour or so of the event.

One final hors d’oevres tip: when dishing up dips and spreads put the chips, crackers, etc. on the plate first and then add the schmear to them… it certainly beats chasing a bit of artichoke or seafood dip around that tiny little plate!