Any food expert will tell you that you eat with your eyes first. Food must look good as well as tasting amazing.
Food is central to celebration and entertaining, and I am especially in love with the shared experience of the latest food craze – grazing platters.
What is a grazing platter?
Fresh and vibrant, a grazing platter is in itself a celebration of food. They are sort of a cheese platter explosion; less about refinement and structure and more about a big plate of great food that you can’t wait to get your hands on and your teeth into.
They are made to look like an abundance of the harvest, as though you have just wandered in the garden and picked your freshest seasonal produce and popped them, sun-warmed and juicy, onto a big platter to share with your loved ones.
You are getting hungry just thinking about one now, aren’t you?
Grazing Platters are big and packed with a variety of ingredients
The beauty is in the range of colour, shape, and texture of what is on offer; you grab a platter and simply fill it with good food. Grazing platters use fewer small dishes to keep everything separate and are more about throwing everything together with wild abandon.
But they are thrown together in a way that looks amazing.
Grazing platters are incredibly inviting, shared and interactive. They get people together talking about the food and trying things they’ve never tried before. Relaxed and rustic, they are not fine-dining as such, but work wonderfully for formal events such as conferences and weddings.
Fitting in beautifully with a gourmet foodie lifestyle, they are about food as an experience for the senses and a communal enjoyment of the bright colours and big flavours of food at its best.
Some great ingredients to build your next grazing platter:
- Cured meat such as salami, prosciutto, ham, chorizo
- Breadsticks and crackers of different shapes and varieties, include multigrain and seeded ones for texture
- Cheeses and pates
- Vegetables such as carrot sticks, cucumber, broccoli and cherry tomatoes
- Fresh or dried fruit like blueberries, red grapes, pear slices, apricots, pomegranate, passionfruit halves, figs etc.
- Dips, condiments, pickles or antipasto-style ingredients
- Some interesting wow factor ingredients, such as dark chocolate covered fruit, roasted garlic chickpeas, caramelised popcorn (not right next to the olives though…)
- Garnishes such as flowers and herbs
Why does your next event need grazing platters?
These platters not only look enticing to your guests, but they free you up to socialise! No wandering around with trays of finger food or being stuck in the kitchen putting finishing touches onto a three-course meal.
They are completely sorted before the event starts, leaving you free to mingle with your guests and have a good time.
They work equally well for all types of cuisine and different courses of the meal. They are mostly an appetiser/meat and cheese platter concept, but can be adjusted to suit anything, such as:
- Platters of cooked seafood
- Breakfast platters with fresh waffles and croissants for topping
- Roast chicken and cold roast potatoes with freshly baked bread
- Dessert grazing platters with good quality chocolate, bite-sized pieces of baked goods, donut holes, lush fresh fruit and rich sauces for dipping or drizzling.
Grazing platters are great for events in the Aussie summer because they work better with cold or room temperature food. Less cooking and fussing about, more eating and enjoying your friend’s company.
Some great ideas to up the ante on your grazing platters
Play with colour, shape, size and texture. Start with a dark based platter, or if you have a white one, cover the base with rocket or another textured green leaf. This helps the platter to look full.
Start with big ingredients and make sure that you build layers. Use things like small baskets or mason jars for interest. Make sure that you fill every gap with sprinklings of fruit and nuts or garnishes.
The more you experiment with the look of your grazing platters the better feel you will get for what works together beautifully. Choose ingredients of different heights as well as textures and shapes.
Showcase local specialities by checking out farmer’s markets or gourmet stores. Especially if you have guests who have travelled, you can make an original and intriguing grazing platter by filling it with things they can’t get anywhere else. (And you could put together a gift bag of a couple of local items for them to take home as well!)
Rustic food does not mean low quality. You can still wow and impress the socks off any guest even with a grazing platter concept. Fill them with lush, freshly grilled seafood and trimmings, shucked oysters, fine pates, caviar, truffles, thick gooey cheeses and so much more.
Pair them with big glasses of champagne or local wine to enhance the flavour of the food.
Use signs and props to create a little visual artistry and really wow your family, friends or clients at your next event. This whimsical table sign draws the eye and can be personalised to suit the colours or motif of your event, for example.
Other props I love include:
- Live plants such as herbs or chilli in terracotta pots
- Mason jars of condiments like honey or quince paste
- Bundles of antique teaspoons or cake forks
- Cheese towers
- Elements like gold plates, rose gold candelabras, strings of fairy lights, rustic look lanterns or birdcages etc.
This is food made fun and free. I love how you can just play with grazing platters and the whole shared experience that they give everyone at your wedding or event. To impress your guests, I can create a stunning grazing platter sign just for you. If you have something in mind or have a custom brief, I can work with you to craft the perfect custom sign to put a personal touch on your special event.
Grazing platter sign pictured, can be found here for purchase.