What makes a great passed hors d’oeuvre? It has to combine the right mix of flavor (salty, tangy, acidic, herbaceous, maybe just a little sweet) and texture (crunchy, chewy, crumbly, creamy) in one- maybe two- bites. It can’t be too cumbersome to eat, or fall apart in your hand. A cocktail hour is as much about catching up with friends and enjoying a drink as it is eating, after all.
It’s got to be visually striking, something that calls to people from the tray, that makes guests stop a server mid stride and say “ooh, what’s that?” But they can’t be too finicky to assemble (we’ve got lots of mouths to feed and only 90 minutes to do it!) or so delicate that they topple over as soon you try to walk with them.
It’s a fine balance to strike, and we spend many hours testing and tweaking recipes and presentations to get them just right.