Tuesday 28 January 2014

Hors d'Oeuvres

"Hors d'Ouvres" - known in our house simply as "Nibbles" (sounds like the name of a cat) - is a French term that means literally "outside the work" [where "work" is used in the sense of "the main event".] It is the term frequently used to describe a selection of goodies provided by the host to whet guests' appetites before the main meal begins. We certainly use it in this way, and we often sit down with a plate of Nibbles and a cocktail while dinner is cooking. It is a sociable activity, helping us to relax and catch up on what each of us has been doing during the day.

Here is a typical example, presented on those beautiful Faience de Gien plates that Fiona and Juan gave me at Christmas-time:

On the plates here we see two types of Saucisson Sec (the French equivalent of Salami); some Cipolle Borretane (Italian-style onions pickled with balsamic vinegar); some Silverskin cocktail onions; and some mixed olives - plus my latest favourite garnish, the Celeriac leaf.

And here's a photo of another, more Summery, selection, taken some while ago:

That one has Cornichons (small gherkins), Kalamata olives, and home-grown Radishes and cherry Tomatoes.

Here's another option - Extra Virgin Olive Oil, with bread for dipping, and more Radishes, with salt for dipping them in

More Radishes...

Without a doubt the best Nibbles, from the gardener's point of view, have to be the home-grown ones, like these crunchy finger carrots:

Or a bowl of bite-sized tomatoes:

Perhaps some of the very tiniest new potatoes with some black pepper and a knob of butter?

Or maybe just some fresh peas, picked moments previously in the garden just outside our door?

Can't you just hear the soft "pop" noise as you snap them open??

So friends, what is YOUR favourite nibble? Please tell me!


  1. Did I spot some home pickled shallots or onions on that first plate?

    We don't tend to do nibbles - maybe we should.

  2. Don't make me so hungry! My husband and I never do that. Though my daughter and I do nibble on things like broccoli or carrots before dinner. Usually I mean them to go with dinner, but sometimes they just don't make it onto the plates.

  3. And what is the beverage of choice?

    1. Depends what mood I'm in, and what the weather's like! Usually wine, or perhaps a G&T or Rum & Coke....

  4. very lovely... I love a selection of olive oils too... makes for interesting tasting.

  5. I could honestly live on this kind of food. Simple and delicious. Incidentally, we have a hamster called Nibbles - you're right, it's a good pet name.

  6. Known as nibbely bits here. I don't think we have a favourite Mike hates olives with a passion I adore them. Especially the large green ones marinated with chilli & garlic.

  7. All those nibbles look great as I like most foods. However I'm afraid I have a sweet tooth that invades on my healthy eating, however, carrots and celery are my staple healthy nibble. I trieed making kale crisps as I thought they would make a good nibble but I kept burning them.

  8. Mark, you call them hors d'Oeuvres, but I think I could just happily make a whole meal of your nibbles. It all looks so yummy and I am so fond of olives as well as the veggies.

  9. My daughter would go for the smallest of small potatoes which she carefully peels, eats the skin and then finally pops the potato in her mouth. Personally though it would have to be tomatoes (or popcorn - always salted - but as I've never grown it I'm not sure it counts). I'm also a big fan of cheese stuffed chillies and salted radishes and salted cucumber and and and

  10. I love that you're using the celeriac leaf. My favourite nibbles would have to be cured meats and olives; if they're around I can't help but eat them all. And little bits of cheese. And those cheese stuffed mini hot peppers. And breadsticks.

  11. I've made a huge mistake visiting you at this time of day Mark,
    You tasty 'nibbles' has set me off and I'm going to have to dash for my own "Hors d'Ouvres" and glass of red ;D
    They all look so tasty and I love your wooden platter.


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