Q: I'm throwing a cocktail party on the roof deck of my building in August for about 20 people. I can't grill, and am looking for suggestions as to what to serve. It's far enough away from my apartment that I need things I can set up at the start of the party and that will still taste great after sitting outside on an August evening for a couple of hours. Any suggestions? — Sent by Aliza
Editor: Aliza, we have a couple thoughts. First of all, go with this very good advice from Laurie Colwin: Don't make many things; just make a lot of a few things. This is easier in every way. We would suggest picking 3-4 easily made nibbles and making a lot of them.
For what to make, we would also suggest picking a theme to help you orient your menu. What about a Spanish menu of firm cheeses, chunks of bread, flatbreads with roasted tomatoes, big bowls of olives or skewers of roasted vegetables? Then you could have little chocolate bites with cinnamon and chile to sweeten things up.
Readers, what kind of advice would you give Aliza on her menu?