Tiny Bites Winter Festival

5 Jan

Sometime in the Autumn my nephew came to visit, and we had one of those blissful evenings on the terrace, with a log fire and a barbecue and more than our fair share of wine. There was probably amaretto too. And cheese, there’s nearly always cheese.

Anyway, on this occasion the conversation roamed around politics (inevitably still talking about Brexit) and work and food. Somehow, the next morning we had decided that the most fun thing to do at Christmas this year would be to shun the massive turkey, and instead go for Tiny Bites.

Let me explain – I’m a Big Fan of the Tiny Bites, or canapes as some of you might call them. I love the perfect morsel in miniature – flavours that zing, textures that excite and looks that delight. And if they are all uniformly set out on a serving platter (possibly even a slate, which I will allow for Tiny Bites, but NEVER for a proper meal) and brought to me by a wonderfully smiling human even better.

We shared our idea with the rest of the family, and The Inaugural Winter Festival of Tiny Bites was born, though not without some concern… Would there be enough to eat? Were we just creating the same meal as usual but cutting it up into tiny portions? What is Christmas without a plate piled high with roast turkey and ALL the trimmings? With hindsight, perhaps it’s bizarre that not once did any of us question if this was even possible, or if we were creating far too much extra work, for little extra fun.

Early in December we had pretty much rebranded it as a crowdsourced tasting menu, with family being the ‘crowd’, and we managed to have a planning session when we were all at home at Mum’s one weekend. It turns out that planning a crowdsourced tasting menu is a great use of all those planning techniques we’ve learned at work, and it’s far more fun applying the techniques to a Family Christmas than to most of the projects I’ve worked on! More on the planning another time, but needless to say, there were a lot of post-it notes and a killer excel spreadsheet.

And it turned out our plan was to produce an 18 course meal on Christmas Day, starting with The Partridge and the Pear and finishing with Cheese (subsequently renamed as The Baby Cheeses in a Manger).

The Partridge and the Pear

As I write this in the early days of the new year, I can confirm that we had the most fun on Christmas Day, that the fear of ‘not enough’ was totally unfounded. And that Tiny Bites nearly broke us, though not in a bad way. We managed only 12 (only!) of the 18 courses before we were beaten by the Bites and had to take some time out. The time out lasted right through the evening, and the Bites were never resumed, though my nephew did provide Tiny Bites Style Breakfast the next morning.

I’ll come back to this extravaganza in coming weeks, with some of the recipes. In the meantime, here is the full menu:

  • The Partridge and The Pear
  • His Bark is Worse Than His Bite
  • Gold Langoustine
  • Peruvian Prawns
  • Herring Smorgasbordling
  • Tiny Soup and Tiny Croutons
  • Tiny Soup (reprise)
  • Tiny Cheese Toastie with Apple Compote
  • Tiananmen Squares
  • Bambi Bullseye
  • A tart encounter (intermezzo)
  • The sausage meets the potato
  • The Bird
  • Bollywood
  • Pear without the Partridge
  • Storm in a Golden Teacup
  • Cranachan
  • Festive Jellies (redacted)
  • The baby cheeses in the manger with the good King Wensleydale, and Christmas cake
  • Cocktails (work in progress)
The Tiny Bites Menu

Let me know if there’s anything you really want to read more about.

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