Canape lessons
Prandial Pleasure - Party Politics.

I've always prided myself on canape expertise: like many journalists, I have developed an in-built radar which tells me the exact spot to loiter in to ensure direct hits from tray-carrying waiting staff. But when it comes to making them at my own parties, I am scared by the very sight of empty canape cases on the supermarket shelf. What to fill them with, and when? And frankly – in the age of Kettle Chips – why?

So, in advance of a Christmas drinks party, I decided to overcome my finger-food fear by seeking help from one of the UK's top event managers. Urban Caprice creates high-profile parties, serving up tasty morsels to high-maintenance guests from picky fashionistas at ''the shows'' to spiky installationists at the Frieze Art Fair.

At its HQ in London's Maida Vale, I sipped champagne with a small group of aspirant canapistas, and soaked up tips on party politics from MD Jonathan Rutherford Best: ''1970s-style canapes are back!'' We then set about creating canapes for the post-Atkins (mini-burgers, no buns), carb-friendly (risotto OK again), seasonal and sustainable (kale and kippers) world that we entertain today.
First, grilled courgette wrapped around mozzarella, fennel, apple, lemon rind and Parmesan. Then, slivers of pollack thinly spread with Gentleman's Relish and English mustard with a wisp of celeriac. And finally, a twist on a ''timeless classic'', choux pastry filled with creme fraiche and a gloop of beluga caviar.

After cocktails and eating about 25 more canapes than the recommended allowance, I was in the party spirit. All I needed were roofing slates (for serving), several hundred tea lights (the decor du jour) - and a steady hand.

Canape Club, Urban Caprice Kitchen, 63 Goldney Road, London W9; 020 7432 8654. £75.