Sonia Sansom, from E2E Events and a judge of the 2019 Canape Cup, considers whether January means no more canapés and considers what makes a canapé great.
You know Christmas and New Year celebrations are over when the supermarkets replace the boxes of miniature wellingtons, mushroom-shaped bao buns and cranberry filled filo crackers with calorie-counted health foods.
But it’s not all bad because, let’s face it, which of us wasn’t a little disappointed with the lack of flavour in the morsels chosen from a platter of they-all-cook-at-200-degrees delights over the festive period?
Because not all canapés are created equal. The quality can vary: I should know, I’ve tried enough! And the good thing about the treats disappearing from the supermarkets (apart from less strain on my waistline and wallet) is that the canapés I do get to enjoy are made by top venues and are of a far higher standard.
So what is the winning formula when it comes to canapés?
Firstly, they have to pack a punch in terms of flavour. People want the taste of a whole meal in a single mouthful, kind of like the gum Violet Beauregarde stole from Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Only we don’t want canapés that turn you into giant blueberries.
They have to be small enough to fit into your mouth, but bowl food can work too, as long as there are plenty of places to put down your drink. Ultimately, you need to be able to eat in front of your boss, your most important client and the business prospect you’ve been wooing for months, without getting food all over your face and clothes.
Somewhere in the selection offer, you need canapés that cater for different dietary requirements. It’s SOOOO disappointing to hone in on a beautifully presented platter, only to find out you can’t eat any of them because you’re coeliac, doing Veganuary or prawns have you reaching for an EpiPen.
As well as flavour, canapés ought to look beautiful. Each bite should be a miniature work of art, ideally presented with a sense of beauty and/or theatre. When I judged the Canapé Cup last year, I was particularly impressed with some deserts that looked like miniature burgers with fries, served in tiny takeaway boxes from the Berkeley, and some wonderful display stands used by Boulevard that looked like little barbecues or fires.
Lastly, the best canapés are the ones that keep on coming. Make sure you have plenty as it’s not just me who loves them. If they’re good, people will get through a surprising number. Seek advice from an event organiser on how many to provide, depending on how they’ll be offered for and what other food is available.
Remember, just like pets, canapés aren’t just for Christmas. They’re popular at a wide variety of events, from small gatherings to huge parties. Just make sure you invite me.