We're all grazers in the pasture of life.

And appetizers are highly favored forage foods. They're snacks, hors d'oeuvres, nibbles and munchies - anything tasty and tangy that we choose to quell our hunger.A "bite to eat" often includes potato skins, buffalo chicken wings and chips with salsa instead of the standard sandwich or bur-ger.

In the majority of mainstream American eateries, appetizers are preferred selections of hungry food-seekers.

Look at the success of the TGI Friday chain. It's a family-friendly eatery that offers trendy, appetizer-based fare.

No . . . nachos are not there by chance. Every item included on Friday's multipaged menu has been heavily researched and carefully calculated.

Marketing studies spell success. Corporations spend millions to tap into taste preferences of each region in the country. Pillsbury, parent company of Olive Garden restaurants, produces several different pasta sauces to suit their audience. New Yorkers are served spicy marinara while Utah's version is deliciously duller.

The appetizers in question differ from pretentious dinner party hor d'oeuvres. Our subject has humble beginnings. In short, they evolved from "food" eaten in bars: salty snacks like peanuts, Polish sausages and pickled eggs.

In the late '60s, bars refusing to give up the peanut platter remained bars. But some progressive proprietors upgraded themselves in an attempt to grab the sippers AND snackers.

These schmoozer-friendly establishments served eats of the pigs-in-a-blanket kind and called their place a "bistro."

Many cocktail weenies down the road, they moved up a nacho to "pub."

Today, extensive appetizers are found in "clubs."

Still, a few of the original bars remain hard-core bastions of beef jerkey (and proud of it).

Perhaps the most "influential" appetizer - the one that caused the pigs to fold their blankets, has been the buffalo chicken wing. Originated when owners of the Anchor Bar, a Buffalo, N.Y., joint, fried previously useless poultry pieces, they're now served swimming in killer hot sauce from Maine to Moroni.

Proof of Buffalo's success are all the wannabe knockoffs. Even Kentucky Fried Chicken and Dominoes Pizza stores push the popular poultry pieces.

Appetizers have evolved even further - touched by an angel named "fusion." The watchword among foodies, fusion is the combination of multiethnic tastes, like the Tex-Mex nacho.

Local clubs, pubs and bistros are appetizing destinations for brew and brie-seekers alike. The Hard Rock Cafe, a.k.a. The Idol Aisles, draws huge crowds with Rock Star memorabilia, loud tunes and flashy decor. The menu . . . Appetizer City.

For 18 years, Green Street Social Club, the watering-hole/hot spot, had occupied the building that now houses Hard Rock. Along with a move to larger quarters in Trolley Square's west end, Green Street has added the culinary knowhow of Mike Allen, a respected Red Rock Brewery chef.

Allen brings along the talents of long-time assistant Jesse Gittins, a master of decadent desserts; his cheesecake is legendary.

Allen's appetizers are delicious eye-openers - variations of trend and taste. His creations are the quintessential example of edible evolution, Green Street-style.




2 large flour tortillas

1 pound Brie, skin removed

1 large papaya, seeded and peeled

For Salsa:

1 mango, pitted and diced

2 teaspoons fresh ginger juice, squeezed in a garlic press

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 red pepper, diced

1 bunch of green onions, chopped fine

Toss all salsa ingredients together and reserve.

Place tortillas on griddle and top evenly with brie and papaya (be careful not to use an excessive amount of brie, as it will run when cooked). Fold each tortilla in half and stack one on top of the other to ensure equal and even cutting. Cut in three even pieces and fan on serving plate. Garnish with Bibb lettuce cup filled with mango salsa. Makes 6.

- Each serving contains 393 calories, 22g fat, 32g carb, 820mg sodium, 75mg cholesterol.

- From Chef Mike Allen, Green Street Social Club



1 pound marinated artichoke hearts

1 pound Chilean snow crab meat

1 pound smoked Cheddar cheese, shredded

1 pound cream cheese

2 tablespoons roasted garlic

1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon Heinz 57 sauce

1 tablespoon Montreal Steak Spice (or seasoning of your choice)

Fold ingredients together and place in baking dish. Bake at 425 degrees F. until top is golden and inside is warmed through. Serve with toast points or crackers. Serves 16.

- Each serving (4 ounces) contains 365 calories, 31gfat, 9g carb, 760mg sodium, 80mg cholesterol.

- From Chef Mike Allen, Green Street Social Club


1 cup black beans, cooked, water reserved

1 cup brown and wild rice (mix), water reserved

1 cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs

2 eggs (to bind)

1 tablespoon Montreal Steak Spice (or seasoning of your choice)

1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence

3 tablespoons green onion, minced

2 tablespoons roasted garlic, pureed

Combine reserved water from beans and rice. Pour small amount in shallow pan (9-X-13-inch) and set aside. Fold ingredients together and form into 6-ounce balls. Press into patties, place in small amount of reserved water and let stand. The starches from the water should sufficiently bind the burger. Cook carefully to desired doneness. Makes 4.

- Each serving contains 288 calories, 2g fat, 54g carb, 1093mg sodium, 0mg cholesterol.

- From Chef Mike Allen, Green Street Social Club


4 to 5 pounds chicken wings

4 cups vegetable oil

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter or margarine

5 tablespoons Louisiana-brand hot sauce or Tabasco

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Freshly ground black pepper

Salt (if desired)

Chop off the tip of each chicken wing and discard it. Chop the wing in half (cutting at the joint) to make 2 pieces. Grind on fresh black pepper and sprinkle with salt, if desired. Heat the oil over high heat in a deep skillet, Dutch oven or deep-fat fryer until it starts to pop and sizzle (around 400 degrees F.) Add half the chicken wings and cook until they're golden and crisp, stirring or shaking occasionally. When done, remove them to drain on paper towels. Cook the remaining wings. Melt the butter or margarine over medium heat in a heavy saucepan. Add the hot sauce and vinegar. Stir well and remove from flame immediately. Place the chicken on a warm serving platter, pour the sauce on top and serve with celery sticks and Blue Cheese Dressing. Makes approx. 24 wings.

- Each wing contains 215 calories, 17g fat, 5g carb, 190mg sodium, 44mg cholesterol.

- From Anchor Bar & Restaurant, Buffalo, N.Y.


1 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons finely chopped onion

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic

1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1/4 cup crumbled bleu cheese

Salt, pepper and cayenne to taste

Combine and chill for an hour or longer. Serves 8.

- Each serving (1/4 cup) contains 272 calories, 31g fat, 2g carb, 231mg sodium, 21mg cholesterol

- Adapted from various chicken wing Web sites