Saturday, July 29, 2017

Appetizers with a Victorian Flair

By Cal Orey
Meet a sophisticated Italian appetizer called crostini. These versatile cuties are made with small slices of toasted bread and an assortment of toppings.  Think cheeses, vegetables, herbs, and even fruit. These scrumptious treats go back centuries and were served to peasants who didn’t have plates—and these days crostini can be served to all classes of people, rich, poor and in between.
On my July trip to Victoria, British Columbia I was one of the lucky chosen few (a treat to the suite guests) to enjoy the concierge dining room appetizer bar. At five o’clock P.M., I entered the highest floor of the hotel with a picturesque panoramic view of the boat harbor complete with special food for special people. As the finicky semi-vegetarian it was the crackers, cheese, olives, and fruit that won my attention. I scooped up a plate full of the edibles and fled back to my room with the million dollar Inner Harbour view.  
Ironically, while I put together little appetizers a flashback of Tahoe visited me. Years ago when I was a stringer for the Tahoe Tribune I wrote a dozen articles for a magazine on noteworthy locals. My editor gave a magazine launch party at one of our town food spots. As the reclusive writer I forced myself to make a cameo appearance. When she asked me to read each article aloud I whispered, “Can someone else do it? I’m shy.” The extroverted publisher did the deed as I listened to my words on paper. Feeling calm out of the limelight I snuck over to the food table and snagged bruschetta (like crostini but larger toasted bread slices often with olive oil) to munch on.
So, back to the awesome Canadian suite complete with English d├ęcor. I put together artful appetizers like I enjoyed back at the Tahoe Tribune event. I placed different foods on the assortment of crackers and pretended they were the classic crostini and bruschetta appetizers are Victoria inspired with a taste of Tahoe.

Worldly Appetizers
Canadian Bruschetta
4 slices of a baguette or French bread (toasted or warmed up in the microwave) or multigrain herb crackers
4 cubes or slices of cheese (cheddar or goat)
2 Heirloom or Roma Tomatoes, chopped or sliced
Several olives, pitted, sliced
Red onion, chopped (optional)
Top each piece of bread or cracker with cheese, tomato, olives, and onion. Heat up or serve cold.

Dessert Yogurt and Fruit Crostini
4 slices of a baguette or French bread
¼ cup Greek yogurt (plain or vanilla), goat or feta cheese
4-8 slices fresh fruit (figs, green apples, nectarines, peaches, strawberries)
¼ cup walnuts or almonds (chopped)
Honey (optional)
Spread yogurt on bread. Top with fruit, nuts, and drizzle with honey
Both savory and sweet appetizers serves 2 to 4 people. Serve cold when the weather is hot, heat on cooler nights.

These tasty tidbits were fun to eat as well a healthful way to eat a light dinner. Back at home instead of a picture-perfect view of an island city, I whipped up these tasty bites in the comfort of my cabin surrounded by pine trees, and my view of a cat, dog, birds, and squirrels. And note, wherever you are this summer or year round these appetizers are worth writing home about. 

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