A Taste of the Med
Theme nights are a great way to bring in custom and drive sales at your business. This issue, we bring you ideas to host a Taste of the Med night.
“Mediterranean food isn’t new to the UK by any means, but the light, fresh flavours of the dishes, along with the sharing culture, makes them a real crowd pleaser,” says Darren Chapman, Nestlé Professional business development chef. “It is an uncomplicated style, and the key is quality ingredients cooked very simply but well.”
Why do it?
Whether it reminds customers of the holiday they have enjoyed, or gets them in the mood for their next, serving Mediterranean cuisine is a guaranteed customer pleaser. The delicious, healthy and versatile style of food makes for a relaxed and informal dining experience, perfect to cater for couples or large groups.
What to do?
Either choose a specific country and go all out, or include a selection of different countries and mix it up. For example, you could hold a Spanish paella party or a Greek meze, or have a selection of dishes from numerous countries – Italy, Turkey, Morocco and Tunisia. Decorate your premises with flags from the country or countries and use the same colours to enhance the theme through balloons, napkins and bunting. Choose music to match the theme or even consider a band or entertainment such as Greek dancers and plate smashing. Get your staff to dress up and suggest customers do this too. Encourage customers to post pictures of the night using the hashtag #themenight.
What to serve?
From pasta to paella, grilled fish to moules with frites, the choice is endless! The staples of a Mediterranean diet tend to be fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, nuts, fish and olive oil and the key to the Mediterranean diet is little and often – lots of small dishes of food that people linger over. Tapas and meze work very well, as these kind of dishes support high profit margins as diners are tempted to order several different dishes at a time. Serving one or two main dishes such as lasagne or a crispy Greek-style pie on a buffet is also succesful. For dessert, Carte D’Or has a versatile range to suit this type of event which includes its chocolate mousse, lemon mousse and panna cotta.
Avgolemono – a classic Greek egg-lemon sauce served with stuffed vine leaves. Blend the juice of two lemons with two beaten egg yolks and a little cornflour in a small saucepan. Slowly add hot water, making sure the eggs don’t curdle. Cook over a gentle heat until the sauce thickens. Drizzle over the vine leaves to serve.
Yoghurt sauce – yoghurt mixed with cucumber and garlic makes a classic accompaniment to stuffed vine leaves. Add a diced cucumber and two crushed cloves of garlic to a large bowl of plain yoghurt, stir in one tablespoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of salt.
Hearts of palm – similar in taste to artichokes with a texture like cooked asparagus. They taste mild and delicate, making them a perfect addition to salads. They go well with herbs, tomatoes and cheeses. Add some acidity with wine or vinegar.
Ceviche – marinate sliced hearts of palm in lemon or lime juice with chopped chillies, onion, coriander and sea salt to make a vegetarian ‘ceviche’.
Click for the Paella recipe by Kev Jones, head chef at the Bay Horse Inn in Roughlee, Lancashire