Don’t feel like a hosting a full on Thanksgiving dinner? Want to have friends over the day after for a lazy Mediterranean inspired evening instead?

A Meze Spread is your answer.

Personally, it’s my favorite type of soirée. Leave it to the Greeks to center an entire social gathering around Ouzo. Well in this case it’s Ouzo because that is my favorite aperitif. If you have never tried Ouzo think a cloudy, creamy, dry, anise-flavoured party happening in your mouth. Its divine.

Anyhow, the role of meze is two-fold. First, the food you choose is supposed to enhance the flavor of your featured cocktail and second, it is to provide the backdrop for your fabulous soiree. Unlike an appetizer - which is a meal course before the main event - a meze is a dish that stands alone. Whether it is a tangy tzatziki served solo or a number of small plates joining their garlicky lover, mezethes (that’s plural for meze) are a great way to sample a little bit of everything. It’s the flirt of foods.

In Greece, it’s super common for friends to gather for hours over ouzo mezethes, sharing a number of these spicy, salty, sensational small plates while washing them down with ample amounts of wine, tsipouro, and ouzo...and gazing into the Aegean.

Yes, the backdrop is a little bit different from my Tribeca apartment, but ouzo meze makes for many settings. This is a tradition that truly fosters “kefi” - best conjugated as good times.

Yes, the Mediterranean and Greek diet is among the world's healthiest, but I can’t help but think the real health benefits come from sharing a meal surrounded by friends, family and the ones you love. My fondest memories are built upon these chaotic, vibrant family soirees that nourished my soul.
So, how does one assemble a Meze Spread?

Step 1 - Choose your drink
Do you want to feature something soft, sweet and sensuous like a Moscato or Riesling or something dry, sticky, mildly spicy, and very aromatic like an Ouzo or Raki? How about a sparkling non-alcoholic fruity mocktail or dirty martini? It’s all good, just pick your passion.

Step 2 - Taste the Rainbow
What’s so great about hosting this type of party is there's a great deal of flexibility in what you can include on your platter, so make it personal. What do you like and what do your peeps eat? I decided on a seafood and vegetarian meze platter that features some of my favorite foods like grilled octopus, ouzo shrimp, lentil meatballs and crispy cornmeal calamari (I cannot think of anything more divine). Um by the way, you can assemble a meze platter without ever going near the grocery store. Work with what’s in the pantry: crackers, beans, pickled vegetables, and an array of cheeses and olives. Have a tomato handy? Cut thick wedges and sprinkle with coarse sea salt and serve with toasted bread slices drenched in GEVOO, mountain oregano, and feta cheese. Whether you decide to serve a vegetarian, seafood or meat lovers meze spread, your options are limitless. Get creative, be inspired, and have fun. Whether it is a tangy tzatziki served solo or a number of small plates joining their garlicky lover, mezethes are a great way to sample a little bit of everything. It’s the flirt of foods.

Step 3 - Arrange what you can beforehand
Write out your menu and then simplify it. Do as much prep in advance.
I cut my veg, prepare the dressing for my octopus, and make my dolmades ahead of time. Any dips, pites, breads, cheeses and the design can all be made ahead of time too.

Fancy Peasant Tips:
-Toasting or grilling some sliced bread with mountain oregano and olive oil goes with every meze platter and is a must.
-Our olive oil octopus lasts up to 2 weeks in the fridge if it’s dressed with Fancy Peasant vinegar dressing and is placed in a glass airtight container.
-Place sliced veg in plastic containers with a little water the night before; they'll be perfect.
-Dress everything with GEVOO and sprinkle with oregano, like lipgloss and mascara its just makes everything better.
-Also, have your platter and tablescape ready. Flowers, mismatched china and bud vases are effortless and chic.

Step 4. Turn on some fresh beats and pour yourself a glass
Give yourself permission to be imperfect. It’s going to be f*****g awesome.

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