I spent the past week thinking about which appetizer to make. I've thrown enough heavy-appetizer parties to know which ones are crowd pleasers. I bought ingredients for three different appetizers, not knowing for certain which one I would end up making.
Last evening, I asked a friend in passing what he was bringing. He answered in an offhand manner, "Something with artichokes." The way he said it made it sound like he hadn't put much thought in it. I cleared him from the slate of true competitors from the contest, and I went about my business.
My subconscious had been working on the appetizer dilemma all night, and my taste buds had a delayed memory reaction to his offhand comment. When my eyes flew open at 5 a.m., I knew exactly which appetizer he makes that has artichokes in it, even though I hadn't tasted it in years. It's not just good, it's make-your-taste-buds-salivate good. When I woke up pre-dawn, I knew I had to bring my A-game to this appetizer contest. His offhand comment was a ruse. He wanted to win the contest as much as I did.
My three potential appetizers were all beautiful works of art that would make a 5-star chef proud. In my past life as The Wine Maven, I worked with many accomplished chefs who taught me how to WOW my guests with presentation. In this contest, though, I'd have to go straight for calorie-laden taste.
Knowing that my audience was a mix of meat-loving and vegetarian, I had to err on the side of caution. I almost chose a hot bacon cheese dip, but knowing that part of my audience was vegetarian, I knew I had to appeal to all tastebuds.
After pouring over recipes, I chose a hot cheese bite recipe. My rationale is that the baked cheese appeals to almost everyone, and the fact that it's hot would help give me the competitive edge.
For those of you who think you might be bored in Panama, think again! Between cocktail hour with other residents, a day of deliberating over recipes, and an art show to look forward to, I barely have time to write this blog.
Want to know which appetizer won the contest? Stay tuned until tomorrow.