You could try:
a nicely presented Gravadlax with dill dressing, or
Foie Gras pate with toasted brioches and a nice chutney or
Homemade individual tartlets (blind bake the cases filled with cooked mix of coloured bell peppers and some red onion etc.
Mmm...I'm hungry now haha.
Hope that helps :-).
Boulangere offers this lovely mousse:
I was about to say foie gras but suzan_roberton beat me to it! A major advantage is that it can be made several days in advance. Plus, you know, the unbeatable flavour and if you make it with cognac, its a great way to get subtly boozed up as an event gets going. Good luck!
Steak tartare, blini with several different American caviars, relish plate with devilled eggs with truffles, poached lobster with lemon and chevril.
roast tenderlion sliced on thinly sliced baguette with horseradish sauce or citris shrimp.
small steamed/boiled potatoes split in half and topped with a dollop of sour cream and caviar.
this recipe is also great: http://www.epicurious.com...
you could top the individual baguette slices to make it look fancier.
In summer, I'm always a fan of a cold soup... a vichyssoise or a gazpacho, perhaps? They're fairly simple, but both can be presented really well.
Raw shucked clams and/or oysters.
You could always revert to a cheese plate with crostini or specialty crackers, preserves, and/or dried fruit. Or you might try making a nicer version of crudite by using interesting vegetables like purple, orange, and yellow carrots that you can blanch quickly, radishes of various colors, green beans, sweet cherry tomatoes, etc. I'd just recommend keeping color and texture in mind. Making a homemade vinaigrette or lovely green goddess dressing, which you can put in a nice silver bowl or a hollowed out small cabbage, will also add a nice touch. Another thought, dates stuffed with pieces of good parm or goat cheese. You can actually make a terrine with goat cheese and preserves or roasted red peppers.
Would help to know what main course you're planning, but to add to what's already been suggested:
Really good Prosciutto di Parma, lavishly draped over fresh figs
Fois gras with brioche and a small glass of Sauternes
Lump crabmeat in a Louis sauce (chilled) with avocado
Tuna tartare (an Asian-ish one is good: bit of sesame oil, rice vinegar, grated ginger, light soy, finely minced scallion, enough neutral oil to moisten it, a bit of wasabi, if you like...)
The best oysters you can find, served raw with a simple mignonette sauce and small, thin slices of good rye bread with best quality butter. (Paris on a plate.)
Gougeres are my go-to appetizer. You can make them ahead of time and I've heard some people freeze them. (They never make it long enough in my apartment for me to have leftovers....) Plus, anything french sounds fancy and everyone loves cheese.
Or really good prosciutto wrapped around cantelope melon slices. The cantelope here is amazing right now. I also love figs topped with goat cheese and a drizzle of honey, but I think it's not fig season yet.
Oooh, nice suggestion on the figs, jenmmcd, although I do Talleggio on top and they are unbelievable.
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