How will you be celebrating the start of a new year? Have you discovered grazing platters? We’ve loved the past few years of Instagram bursting with photos of elaborate tablescaping, but these new feats of edible arrangements have turned table style up a notch.
Apparently you shouldn’t play with your food, but when it looks this good we think it’s allowed. We’ve coined the phrase grazescaping for this new trend, celebrating the beauty of food by making it the star of the show.
We want to share the newest way to wow your guests at dinner parties this holiday season. You may have stumbled across these mouth watering sharing platters on your social media- they’re the winter version of a picnic- and we’re going to be getting all the practice possible for a summer of platters and parasols.
Here’s our guide to creating your very own grazescape at home-
7 Components for the ultimate grazescape set up:
There are no hard and fast rules for what you put on your board but we recommend you have a variety of flavours and textures—salty, sweet, sour, soft, and crunchy.
- Cheese- our friends from Essex ,The Graze Guys, say the key to a board is 'a good variety of cheeses, 'cause who doesn't love a good cheese?' Any cheese can work- small whole cheeses like goat or chunky slices will work well. You can introduce colour with a slice of nettle wrapped Cornish Yarg or a slice of Sparkenhoe Red Leicester, vegan cheeses also work here.
- Cured meats: sliced meats such as proscuitto, serrano and salamis are obvious choices, and you can include whole mini salami sticks. We would avoid smoked fish as it can permeate the foods near it. British charcuterie is excellent and you can source amazing local produce- we like Cobble Lane. You can avoid these entirely if your party is meat-free, and substitute more of the other categories.
- Fruits and vegetables: you can mix fruits and vegetables on a board to add colour and unusual flavour combinations. Grapes, celery, sliced apple, radishes and fig (fresh and dried) are perfect for these winter months. Be brave and include your seasonal favourites throughout the year, such as blueberries, cherries, tomatoes and olives and any dried fruit. Berries and soft fruit such as strawberries can look lovely scattered across a board and taste great with soft cheeses such as a mild goat or camembert.
- Nuts: these are a great space-filler. Use handfuls of almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts or cashews to occupy gaps- we'd advise against pistachios unless they're deshelled so people don't have awkward bits to get rid of.
- Crackers: go to town here. Charcoal biscuits, cheese biscuits, cream crackers, gluten free pumpernickel toasts, all are excellent vehicles for cheeses.
- Dips: if your party is meat-free then we advise a dip in a lovely bowl. Our favourites are River Cottage's mushroom pate, Mary Berry's artichoke dip, Melissa Hemsley's pea and tahini dip and Egyptian beetroot dip. Make sure you have lots of delicious things to dunk- chicory leaves, celery, radishes, gem lettuce leaves, carrot batons, baby corn, fresh baby asparagus, young peas in their pod....
- Condiments: an essential to bring the flavours together. Consider the season and your components when choosing. A chutney works well with a meat and cheese platter, honey mustard would be best with meats and a sweet chilli sauce can complement both vegetarian and non veg boards.
A few more pointers -
- Portions- for a good sized starter or substantial nibble we recommend around 1ft of grazescaped platter for 3/4 people (a whole large platter for a party of 6)
- Platter inspo - choose an appropriate platter for your party size- a flatter platter is better. Dinosaur Designs, Serax, Cartwright & Butler, Morris & Co and Willemein Bardawil. Also small condiment/ dip pots are useful- this gorgeous little rice bowl would be perfect.
- Colour coordinate - gave fun, and play around with the layout of your board. Greens, pinks, oranges using melon/ ham/ carrot/ fig/ radish etc, think of colours of the rainbow. Compliment these with colourful napkins to wipe fingers on.
- Seasonal produce - we recommend these food stores that use local and seasonal produce; Natoora, Oddbox, Riverford organic farmers, Seasonal Food Company, and Big Barn.
- Add height - create depth by using stands to layer boards and platters. Use wooden boxes to vary heights of your boards, and a cake stand if you have one.
- Temperature - Your grazescape will taste its best at room temperature, so make sure to prepare in good time, as you won't want your soft cheese to be rock hard, and your fruit to be cold.
Photo courtesy of the Graze Guys
Beautiful napkins for foody fingers
Our fabulous, colourful, hand printed napkins are the perfect addition for your grazescape.
These beautiful table staples come as a set of 6, they're a great way to add colour to your table. You can mix and match sets, we love orange and pink together. Using colourful napkins can bring out the colours of the food, candles, flowers and glasses- they're less investment than a tablecloth (sizes are also a challenge to get right) and easier to use, wash, iron and store.
Check out our Grazescaping inspo on Pinterest - HERE.