1. The bohemian bourgeois, or “bobo” appetizer: wine and cheese

Whether or not you live in the Montreal Guetto, this bobo appetizer is a classic that you can’t miss! The small-bite format is perfect for taste testing cheese, as it lets you try many different types – just make sure you start with the most delicate cheeses, and end with the strongest flavours. In a single bite, you can create an explosion of taste with cheese, fruit and nuts. The combinations are infinite – as the ad says, “There are more than five cheeses in Quebec!” There are also a multitude of options from your bakery, so say goodbye to your standard baguette and hello to olive bread or pumpernickel!

How many appetizers or cheeses per person?

If you are using the four-course or buffet formula, we suggest having eight different cheeses per person to ensure a wide range of choices. Plan on 14 to 16 hors d’oeuvres per person to make sure no one goes hungry! If you want to mix things up, you can also include some cold meats and pickled vegetables, or even smoked fish.

What would cheese be without wine?

A cocktail dinner of cheeses without wine is like Romeo without Juliette – a true tragedy! On a less dramatic note, it is true that wine, when chosen well, enhances the taste of cheese and improves its texture. The selection of wines should follow the same pattern as the cheese, going from lightest and subtlest to boldest. But be careful! Despite the old adage, red wine and cheese do not always mix, it is better to stick to white. White wines are more acid and have no tannin, making them a perfect combination for a dairy-based meal. 

What do you drink with blue cheese?

The intensity of marbled blue cheeses calls for something sweet and gentle to balance it out. Robert has a soft spot for Roquefort accompanied by ice cider – it’s heavenly!

Tip from the pros

Cheese is like a good canadian beer, everyone loves it! By letting your cheese sit at room temperature for a good hour before serving, its full flavours are released and the cheese has time to soften up. The result? You will melt with delight!

2. Finger foods: when burgers fit in the palm of your hand

The first idea that often comes to mind when we’re making a dinner cocktail menu is to serve small portions from a larger serving. For example, small helpings of foie gras, shrimp cocktail, lamb meatballs, or watermelon and feta are all popular choices. Another option is miniaturizing complete meals. You can cook anything mini – jerk snow-crab burgers, lobster rolls in butter bread, BBQ pulled pork tacos, pizza on puff pastry, or tortière meat pies, for example. You can even make mini shepherd’s pie, the choices are endless! Whether it’s a simple meal or a gourmet extravaganza, it’s always fun to reinvent your favourite dishes, and even more amusing when it fits in the palm of your hand. The idea will make you smile, and the flavours will comfort your soul.

What do you drink with so many different types of appetizers?

The guests have arrived, all the appetizers are out, and all of them are different. If you topped up everyone’s glasses at the same pace that the hors d’oeuvres were disappearing, your liver would be in danger. A wiser choice? Offer a drink that can easily accompany all kinds of meat, spices, herbs, fruits and vegetables, and always tastes just right. Here is where mixology comes to the rescue, so we don’t overdo it with wine.

Our favourite cocktail

Because it is timeless, summery, and bubbles equal festive, here is the recipe for Aperol Spritz, as suggested by Véronique Cloutier (it’s her favourite drink!) 60 ml (2 oz) Aperol (sold at the SAQ) 90 ml (3 oz) of Prosecco or other sparkling white wine 25 ml (3/4 oz) of soda or sparkling water Orange slices Fill a glass with ice cubes, pour in the ingredients, and drink immediately!

3. Cold appetizers, a refreshing change

When it’s scorching hot out, even the idea of opening an oven or lifting the lid off the barbecue makes us melt. If on top of that the reception is outside, you’ll need to bring a bit of freshness to the evening. That’s the perfect time to serve cold hors d’oeuvres, such as marinated beef rolls with soya caramel, albacore tuna and wasabi, mango maki, mint and avocado, or dates with Tête de Moine cheese and pecans, for example. And don’t worry – cold hors d’oeuvres won’t put off your guests. Instead, you’ll save yourself the stress of cooking and warming food, and you won’t have to say, “Hurry up and eat while it’s hot!”

How do you serve appetizers?

There are many ways to serve hors d’oeuvres – teaspoons, chopsticks, verrines (or small glasses), and bamboo trays are but a few ideas. You can even make the utensils part of a dish, by making them edible. For cold appetizers, it’s easy to use practical and delicious ingredients like endive leaves, rice, radish slices, buckwheat crepes, beet crackers or corn baskets. It looks great and it’s good for the environment!

What wines do you serve with raw food?

In general, cold hors d’oeuvres have more delicate flavours, textures, and subtler aromas. You definitely do not want to overwhelm your little appetizers with a big Australian shiraz or a syrupy American rosé. It is better to look for wines that are as delicate as the hors d’oeuvres they accompany. Try a more delicate wine from Burgundy, for example, like a Petit Chablis, Aligoté, Beaujolais, Mâcon or Premiers Crus, if it’s a big occasion. Ontario and Quebec wines are also a good choice, as they come from cold climates. Look for the following grape varieties: riesling, unoaked chardonnay, vidal, gamay, cabernet franc, pinot noir or maréchal foch. 

It’s five o’clock and time for a taste of wine to wet our lips and relax! A drink is, without a doubt, a privileged moment of relaxation, playful exchanges with family or friends, and enjoying the pleasures of the table – without the table. Standing, walking, holding a child or pouring a glass of wine, the appetizers you’ll have for your cocktail dinner will be heartily eaten and enjoyed, giving you as much happiness as being together.