Small Wonders For Summer | Food | Toast Blog | Peter Rowland
Gin compressed melon, jamon, goats’ curd
26 July 2019

Small wonders for summer

Our new summer cocktail canapes are miniature artworks in their own right.

There’s nothing more cheerful than thinking about summer. And so, here we are, talking about what’s coming up in the way of canapés for the party season. Some brand new things, a few clever twists on old favourites, several surprises and all miniature artworks in their own right. For Peter Rowland Group Executive Chef Matthew Haigh, ‘it’s about coming up with canapés that pop in your mouth, but also look good. You always eat with your eyes first, but it’s about making sure that every aspect of the dish has a reason to be there.’


Matthew can have his mind on summer canapés at any time of the year. ‘I always have a notepad next to me, and as I’m going through my day, I might be writing menus for a sit-down dinner when a canapé idea pops into my head, so I’ll jot that down. But realistically, it’s all about the season, and what month we’ll be coming into. We have such a good relationship with our growers and farmers, and keep in close touch with them – we start designing canapés around what’s available at that time of year. It could be our tomato grower has some really beautiful tomatoes coming, or I’ll be talking to the people at Yarra Valley Caviar about their products.’

Ocean trout tartare, brick pastry, horseradish cream, Yarra Valley trout roe, chives

With the slant these days towards vegetarianism and veganism, Matthew also has to make sure canapés can be adapted to various dietary requirements. ‘In this new menu, there’s golden beetroot wrapped to look like a tiny croissant, filled with hummus and topped with walnut salsa. That’s a completely vegan canapé – when we cater for these special guests, it’s about making sure they’ll get looked after just as well as anyone else.’

Shiitake custard, brick pastry cone, pork crackle

The summer canapé menu is about elegance and delicacy – alongside that, Matthew and his team put together a late-night soaker menu ‘which becomes the fun food. You have this elegant party food to start with, and then late in the evening you want something a bit whimsical or different. We’re doing our version of smashed avocado – ours is served on a mini bagel with chilli and goats cheese feta.

Smashed avocado, chilli and goats’ feta mini bagel

Because these days, nothing necessarily happens when you expect it to at an event, the team needs to come up with a dessert canapé or two that work equally well at the end of the night as they do at any point during the day. ‘We try to create ones that aren’t super super sweet. The dukkah on the rosewater canapé gives it that nice nuttiness and sesame flavour – you can get a bit of a sugar hit but then go back to eating savouries.’

Rosewater jelly, frieze dried raspberry, dukkah, pistachio

See our event menus

Photography by Lisa Atkinson

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