Appetizer: A food or drink that stimulates
the appetite and is usually served before a meal
~ Merriam Webster ~
I love the cart! My notion of the cart started to compensate for lack of counter space, in the house in Florida; but it has become that place where my guest know they will find a quick bite, to moderate their hunger.
The cart always holds something to drink, and often a dish of candy or some other snack that we might enjoy, like fruit, which does not have to be refrigerated. However, when I know company is coming or during holiday seasons where there is hope of an unexpected guest, the offerings on the cart get ramped up a bit.
In general I try to moderate my appetizers between sweets and savory’s as well as things which can be served at room temperature and something a bit special, which is served warm. Also, when thinking about what will be offered, on the cart, I consider what I am severing as a main course and how long my guests will be with me; as well as their taste and whatever diet restrictions may exist. The cart should complement the main meal, not distract from it.
A lot of people feel overwhelmed by the thought of serving appetizers, but really all you need to remember is to make the foods offered bitesize, and if you can put them in a small cute plate, you are all set.
I recommend that you find your standards and then build up your repertoire. Cheese, deli meat or sausage, and crackers, are the quint essential, go to appetizers, because they are quick and easy to serve, and always enjoyed. Adding raw vegetables (crudités) that are fresh and in season is actually another sure hit; I also like to serve hummus, bocadito, stuffed mushrooms, meatballs, caramelized onions and cream cheese, prunes stuffed with olives and wrapped in bacon, mini quiche, an array of pickled vegetables or olives, and almost anything wrapped in puff pastry!
The appetizer course is a great way to introduce your guest new foods, for example, at Christmas time; I always try to put turron on the cart. Also, I have served dessert glasses with gazpacho to great success. Be creative and fearless, there are no limits.
What matters is that the cart is welcoming, and lets your guest know that you are glad they came!
I prefer glass dishes, but I want my guest to be comfortable; so it is better to have a plastic dish of grapes that a three year old can take with him, than a beautiful crystal dish that he cannot carry – adapt!