Halloween is over, so it's time to deck the malls with boughs of holly and get ready for the season's eatings. It's also the season for work potlucks and parties with invitations containing the dreaded "please bring an appetizer to share" line.
Never fear, Stick A Fork In It is here to tell you what to buy and where to buy it, right behind the jump!
Hummus and pita: A bowl of hummus and pita or vegetables on a table of appetizers goes quicker than just about anything else except guacamole (which turns brown too quickly). Any of the places in Anaheim's Little Gaza can hook you up with the garlicky dip, but arguably the best in the county comes from Kareem's Falafel. 1208 S. Brookhurst St., Anaheim; (714) 778-6829.
Salad rolls (gỏi cuốn): Shrimp, pork, vegetables, noodles, rice paper and peanut sauce: what's not to like? Every bánh mì shop in Little Saigon has packets and packets and packets of these for sale, usually for a buck or so per roll. Pick them up the day you need them, put them on a nice plate with a bowl of peanut sauce in the middle and you've got a great, filling appetizer that won't suffer for being left out. Gỏi cuốn are not hard to find, but for easy-on, easy-off freeway access, go for Nhu Lan in Garden Grove. 13036 Harbor Blvd., Garden Grove; (714) 638-8690.
Samosas: Sometimes it's got to be a hot appetizer, but rather than a sticky box of wings or a bucket of assorted fried chicken parts from your local market, order a tray of these vaguely ball-shaped pastries filled with curried potatoes and peas from Haveli in Tustin. Samosas keep beautifully in an oven set on its lowest setting, which means you can keep some in reserve for those people who show up fashionably late. 13882 Newport Blvd., Tustin; (714) 669-1011.
Sushi trays: It's not the best idea to leave raw fish out during a long party, but even vegetable sushi can be a winner. If you can get it together to order in advance, Mitsuwa (the Japanese superstore in Costa Mesa) will arrange it on a platter for you and have it ready at the time you specify. If you're willing to make sure the sushi stays the appropriate temperature, they will make you real sushi trays too, and their itamae blow the Costco folks away. 665 Paularino Ave., Costa Mesa; (714) 557-6699.
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Cheese and crackers: No, not Albertsons cheddar and Triscuits; it is possible to bring a really great cheese tray to a party. Go to your local cheesemonger--for example, Frog's Breath in Orange or Pascal Epicerie in Newport Beach--and ask them to recommend three or four cheeses. You can buy the crackers and other accompaniments right there and all you have to do is slap it on a board. Frog's Breath: 143 N. Glassell St., Orange; (714) 774-1773. Pascal Epicerie: 1000 N. Bristol St., Newport Beach; (949) 263-9400.