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Hand-held ethnic nibbles for a large cocktail-dinner party?

Our DIY office party brings in 40-60 people, crammed into an apartment, mostly standing. Over the years, we've done tamales, spanakopita, and pita with Middle Eastern spreads. Need some new ideas. Should be a) hand-held, b) not too messy (disqualifies tacos and tostadas, I'm afraid), c) can be eaten luke-warm or room temp (disqualifies deep fried things), and d) have a vegetarian version. This could be the year of the Jamaican patty or baked empanada, if I could find a good one. Or moderately-sized burritos, if anyone makes these other than Taco Bell or your local supermarket freezer section. Any suggestions? Brooklyn would be preferable. Queens (not too far east) or Manhattan (not too far north) are doable.

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  1. What about a six-foot hero? Lioni's will give you a choice of a couple of hundred combinations including meatless. Many of the cold ones are not messy. And they'll slice it for you into serving sizes. Even deliver it, if you want. www.lioniheroes.com

    1. I've done Jamaican patties for a party before, although not for that many. I bought a bunch of beef, veggie, and callaloo patties along with coco bread from Christie's on Flatbush. We kept the patties warming in the oven and brought them out as needed, but you could probably cycle them out in big batches.

      I'd also buy a case or so of the really good ginger beer (either Citadelle or D+G) to serve with along with.

      2 Replies
      1. re: stufankjian

        hold up - was my impression that Christie's had closed totally wrong? i distinctly remember sad signs at Charlenes saying they wouldnt be serving the pattys any more because they (christies) was going out of business.

        1. re: tex.s.toast

          Christies was open last weekend....no signs of closing at least for the moment.

      2. What do you mean by ethnic? Not Anglo?

        1. I think patties are really much better hot, but Middle Eastern meze beyond just the dips do well at room temperature. Maybe you could order a selection of grape leaves, meat and vegetable pies from Sahadi's or Damascus. Scotch eggs, sausage rolls and pies from an Australian place or the Irish owned Butcher Block could also be a contender.

          1. "can be eaten luke-warm or room temp (disqualifies deep fried things)"

            I guess you have not been to Masjid Al-Hikmah?

            Though obviously better hot, the room-temperature deep-fried stuff there is quite good, as are the room-temp samosas I've had before.

            I would suggest Vietnamese-style cold fresh spring rolls.

            1. I had Onigiri at a party. It was very easy to eat and they had an assortment of tuna, salmon, and chicken. The host said he bought them a Japanese market in Midtown. They are individually wrapped triangles of rice with seaweed and a meat filling in the middle. They were fun to eat.

              1. bklynative, I'm curious about the onigiri. I've seen them but for some reason never had them. Can you ask the host where s/he got them? If the price is anything like sushi (as broadly defined), I'm guessing the budget for a party this size isn't there, but you never know. I'd certainly file it away for a smaller gathering.

                bobkbkln, hero is an intriguing idea. I love those, but haven't had one in years, since going (mostly) meet- (and esp portk-) free. Will keep in mind for future daytime events, but don't think it works with cocktails.

                Jungmann, do you have an Australian place in mind? That's an intriguing idea! Will check out Butcher Block.

                Didactic, you definitely live up to your name. I haven't been to that masjid but have been wanting to go for a while. Hmmm. Wonder when the next one is. I always find out after-the-fact, alas! Look, I like room-temp samosas and eggrolls and some things okay, the way I like cold pizza and Chinese food, but I wouldn't go out of my way to serve it. Lukewarm is almost never ideal, but some things work better than others. That being said, if there were something really delicious and interesting and unique, I might make an exception. For instance, I'm considering the kibbe at Alfanoose, in Lower Manhattan, and the empanaditas at Blend, in L.I.C. and recommend both of them highly. Hustle over to both places, people, and give them a try, and let me know what you think!

                2 Replies
                1. re: fmogul

                  If you want to stick in Brooklyn for pies, DUB is your only option, although I like Tuck Shop in Manhattan better.

                  1. re: fmogul

                    fmogul, I remember the host saying he bought the onigiri at Sunrise Mart on 41st bet 5th/Mad. There are two other locations at 4 Stuyvesant Street and 494 Broome St. I believe the price range is $1.00-$2.00 per piece. They are approximately larger than a golf ball and very filling.