"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
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:
Or maybe just some fresh peas, picked moments previously in the garden just outside our door?
So friends, what is YOUR favourite nibble? Please tell me!