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Host a Mediterranean food fest

Ever wish you could be whisked away like the rich and famous to a whirlwind week of beaches, incredible wine and delicious food to match? Thanks to the authors of Wine Bar Food: Mediterranean Flavors to Crave with Wines to Match, you don’t need to spend a lot of cash for a getaway. Instead, create a European food fest right in the comfort of your own home. Here’s how.

Medditerranean Food and Wine

Drinking and eating around the Mediterranean

In their book Wine Bar Food, co-authors Cathy and Tony Mantuano, also the owners of Spiaggio’s in Chicago, outline authentic recipes in accordance with cities. Want to jet to Barcelona in your very own cucina? Try on Catalonian pizza or garlic shrimp with chilies and rosemary for size. How about transporting yourself to Rome to enjoy a frosty limoncello granita or crispy toma cheese with lemon marmalade and grilled eggplant? Believe it or not, you can have this delicious and simple dish at home.

Channel your inner European chef

If your mouth is watering, it’s time to start cooking for your family and dinner guests. What better time to throw an autumn-filled fete than by channeling your inner European chef? The best part is it doesn’t even require a lot of labor in the kitchen.

Start with antipasti

Cathy recommends creating a table of antipasti. She says, “That’s a really fun way to create a feeling for the party and people can also help themselves.” In addition, as the host you’ll be able to mingle and work the room with your guests rather than feeling like you’re sequestered to the kitchen the whole night. Among her recommendations for starters? Sliced olives served a bit colder than room temperature.

Assemble a buffet of food and beverages

In addition to the antipasti, Cathy recommends creating a buffet feel with beverages as well. “Set a little area where there are a few wines to choose from,” she advises. “Have them made available where people can help themselves, roam, mingle and taste things.”

As for staples on your menu, Cathy recommends real chunks of Parmesan cheese: “Carve chunks of cheese out of a big wheel and use the wheel as a serving device.” She also suggests pairing the creamy saltiness of cheese with champagne. “It’s very festive,” she says. “Once people try it, they love it.”

Eat your veggies

In addition to decadent offerings, go healthy and serve dishes that rely on lots of vegetables, either grilled or sauteed, and incorporate a lot of salads into your fiesta. Cathy says, “There’s pea salads, cristina with goat cheese, and Treviso marmalade with sugar.”

Keep it simple

While one of Cathy’s recommendations off the top of her head include a pomegranate-glazed salmon dish from Spain as a main course and Moorish influence from Seville. This sounds more complicated than it is in actuality. Wine Bar Food presents flavorful easy to prepare dishes so you don’t need to plan for days and days ahead of your fall fest. And you shouldn’t feel overwhelmed, either. “Keep it simple,” Cathy advises. “The book helps people create different options.”

Winning wines

As an added bonus, as you’re concocting your shopping list, rocking out to new recipes and enjoying the process, you’ll learn new things along the way. For example, Wine Bar Food describes Sicily as the second-largest wine-producing region in Italy, with some of their finest reds originating from the grape Nero d’Avola. Known for their black currant fruit flavors and aging ability, these red wines are certainly great food companions to serve with your Mediterranean spread.

Keep it free-flowing

A Mediterranean food fest is the perfect opportunity to really enjoy the company of your guests. Similar to a realtor’s version of an open house, Cathy recommends keeping your party open rather than hosting a dinner party in a sit-down fashion. As you perhaps jazz it up with a flair for fall with pumpkins and gourds and background music, you’re truly setting the tone for a scrumptious and fun-filled night to remember.

To learn more about Wine Bar Food and drool over the Mantuanos’ gorgeous food pictures, visit

Sink your teeth into these Mediterranean recipes

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