You've probably seen them by now, and if you haven't, after this, you'll want to make one: grazing tables & platters are an incredible sight at any party or event. Here at Euphorie Studios, photoshoot days often feel like a good disguise for us to make a lovely grazing platter even though it rarely lasts past mid-morning. We wanted to give you some tips and ideas if you decide to make one of these displays of beauty at home or for an event.
(Pictured: Image via Wedding Venues UK on Pinterest)
First things first, you're going to need something to place your arrangement on when you're entertaining. When you see these glamorous spreads, you might be asking yourself, "how on earth do I find a gigantic 1-meter by 1-meter chopping board (or bigger in some cases) if I don't already own one?" There's a more straightforward answer. Suppose you don't happen to have a large chopping board on hand. In that case, you can use multiple smaller ones and cover them in some form of parchment paper, or you can just skip the chopping board part and take the even more straightforward approach of using a large piece of (clean) parchment paper to arrange your choices on top. You can find these at many different places like Office Works, Kmart, QIS Packaging, or even supermarkets like Woolworths! Most people tend to go with basic plain brown parchment paper, but the choice is totally up to you.
Once you've found the paper you want to use, you'll want to create a shopping list of foods and ingredients to become a part of your arrangement.
One thing to keep in mind when choosing ingredients: your guests' allergies and other things such as how healthy you or your guests will want it to be. For example, a heavy meat platter among a group of vegetarian or vegan friends won't make an excellent impression, so in that case, you'd want to find the right balance that fits your guests. Likewise, you can use things like chocolate, donuts, and other treats. Still, you might want to include some healthy alternatives depending on the nature of the event that has you creating this glorious arrangement. You'll also want to attempt to stick with high-quality ingredients if you want it to taste as good as it will look.
Some types of food and ingredients to consider for your shopping list:
(pictured: image via Plentiful Catering)
Fruit-based options: Apple slices, berries, grapes, melons, olives, and similar fruits. You can also include dried versions of yummy fruits too such as apricots, cranberries, or cherries.
Vegetable-based options: Carrot sticks, cauliflower, marinated zucchini's, radishes, celery, and other veggies you & your guests might enjoy. Don't be afraid to get creative.
Meat-based options: sliced ham, salami (both cut and salami sticks can be a solid choice here), prosciutto, shredded chicken, and so, so much more.
Cheeses: this list can be almost infinite, so you will want to keep in mind the types of cheeses your guests might be interested in consuming. You can play it safe with options like brie, cheddar, blue cheese, camembert, or feta.
(image courtesy of Pinterest)
Desserts/Treats: The beauty of a grazing platter is that you can pair so many different types of ingredients to encompass all of the tastes you're after, which makes the options endless. However, with desserts and treats, there are so many options that it can be hard not to get lost in the mouth water beauty of it all and want just to skip the platter and eat half of it before you can bring it to life. Some of the desserts we've personally included in our platters are chocolates of all types, from dark to white, dairy milk to caramel, and everything in between. We've also included donuts (cinnamon, cream, chocolate-filled; the options are endless with places like Krispie Kreme, supermarkets, etc.), slices of cake, brownies, biscuits, macarons, and much more.
Dips: Just like all the other ingredients, there are so many dips to choose from for your platter. We tend to stick to some of the classics with our grazing platters, such as French onion dip, garlic dip, hummus, bruschetta, and a few other regulars. Honestly, we go a little bit crazy on dips sometimes. There are also a whole host of condiments you might want to include, such as honey, jams, mustards, or preserves.
Bread & crackers: Okay, okay, as we said, we love our dips, but they're only complete with things to dip IN the dips. Things like your classic Jatz, croissants, baguettes, sourdough, and whatever else hits the spot at any given time. Other good options are pita bread, flatbread like naan, or even the classic plain old loaf of bread toasted and cut up into small shapes to dip with! You may also want to include things such as nuts, pretzels, popcorn, or cheese sticks too.
You can also combine many of these things and pair them up in delicious ways, such as chocolate-covered fruits or nuts. Don't be afraid to add some more common things like sliced apples, strawberries, oranges, or grapes.
You might be wondering where to start when it feels like there are endless possibilities of ingredients to include, but it's not so bad. To help you narrow down choices, it's a good idea to choose a theme to follow for your arrangement.
Feel free to utilize props from around your kitchen to bring your table or platter to life. For example, you can do this by turning bowls upside down and covering them with the parchment paper you're going to use to lay your arrangement out is a great way to elevate certain foods to make them more prominent on the platter.
Adding a sense of height to a food table so that it appears to have multiple layers makes it far more enjoyable for your guests to look at and pick apart. If you want to achieve more height, there are many ways you can do it outside of bowls, such as small boxes, containers, upside-down deep-dish plates, and so many other similar items that you'll probably have around home.
Adding in other things like edible flowers or greenery for aesthetic purposes is another excellent way to add more texture to the overall look of the grazing table or platter and bring it to life even more. You could potentially include other things such as kiwifruit, pomegranate, dragonfruit, or passionfruit, and others to make the colors pop out and be that much more eye-catching.
All of this may sound incredibly expensive - honestly, sometimes it can be - but there are many, many ways to scale this on a budget and still create a delicious dreamy platter without overspending on it.
(Image via Creativlee)
When it comes to arranging your grazing platter, the options are endless. Once you've chosen a theme of some sort, you can start preparing foods for arrangement. You'll want to cut everything up to be bite-size so that your guests won't need to fight over knives to cut up the foods they'll enjoy - avoid having big chunks of cheese that need to be cut up. You can do this by pre-cutting them ahead of serving. For cheeses, you'll want to cut them into chunks, slices, or cubes, depending on the specific cheese. When it comes to fruits and veggies, slice them into strips or bite-size pieces for convenience. Be sure to have a few small bowls on hand for dips, nuts, and similar items.
One thing to always keep in mind: as humans, we all tend to eat with our eyes long before anything else. Arranging things in an exciting-looking way will bring people back for more and more!
When you're ready to lay the arrangement out, start with your essential items first: bowls or jars that you'll use with things like dips, nuts, etc. because it is much easier to place things around these items than to try and fit these items in around food. If you plan to include fresh flowers for more color/aesthetic reasons, place these next. When it comes to arranging a grazing table or platter, it tends to be much less stressful to 'think inside the box' by placing the bigger things down first like those above and then work around it. It reduces any stress of wondering where to put EVERYTHING.
You'll want to keep your arrangement laid out logically. One way to achieve this is by placing crackers near dip, or if you plan on having strawberries that you can dip in chocolate, you'll want to have the jar of chocolate dip near the strawberries, etc., so people don't have to hover over the platter to dip foods. Also, depending on your theme, adding garnishes like some herbs or some rosemary on some parts can be a perfect idea to give it even more texture.
Be sure to place the more significant ingredients down first and fill in gaps with smaller ones that make sense. Then, let your creativity flow, create something that YOU like, and showcase your aesthetic and taste based on the theme you've chosen.
Bonus tips: You might want to have some extra food just in case. We've come to realize with the platters we have at our studio, some parts tend to get eaten long before the rest. When this happens, you're left with gaps in your arrangement. So having some extras to refill those gaps for your guests is a great idea.
In the end, the platter you create will come down to your tastes and flare. Don't be afraid to get creative and try new things because grazing platters can be just as fun to set up as they are to eat. Are you as addicted to making/eating these as we are, or have you made your own? Let us know in the comments. We love seeing people's creations and the way they choose to bring them all together!