Grazing tables are the latest dinner party fad, and when better to create one of your own to share with friends and family than at Christmas?
The classic cheeseboard is synonymous with the festive period, so why not take it one step further and impress your guests with a cheese grazing platter?
These tips from fine grazing caterers GRAPE & Fig, who have collaborated with cheesemakers Port Salut this Christmas, will show you how to reinvent the conventional cheeseboard and create something extra special to start conversations.
The key to creating an insta-worthy grazing table is keeping each element grouped together. Sprinkling ingredients all over the platter can make for a messy looking and unappetising visual, so group ingredients by category.
Start with the placement of the cheese - distribute groups of cheese evenly around the platter, making sure it's not clumped together in one area. If you’re using more than one type of the cheese on your platter, place some on its side and some upright so the different types can be identified.
Then add in some ramekins. Once again, dot them around the platter, then fill with dips. Hummus is a must, and you should also add an antipasti; this can be a little oily, hence the ramekin dish. The ingredients you use will both complement and contrast with colourful elements in your display, bringing the board to life!
Next, move onto placing your crackers. Remember, crackers have a tendency to fall and collapse, so try and keep a stack of crackers together by wedging them in-between the solid aspects of your platter - namely the cheese blocks and the ramekins. Try to keep your cracker placement as neat as possible – this will give a great finish to the overall look.
Crackers aren’t everyone's cup of tea, so why not add more festive flavour with a delicious speciality bread? Something like a walnut and fig loaf is perfect - not only will this look beautiful, but it will work well with all the other elements of the board.
After following the above steps, there should be ‘pools’ of space dotted around the board ready to be filled with the rest of your loose ingredients such as cured meats, pretzels, dried and fresh fruits. Over Christmastime, including gorgeous seasonal additions such as nuts and winter berries will really elevate the festive feel of your display.
Ensure you leave the cured meats right until the end and get them straight out of the fridge. For an additional burst of Christmassy colour, why not try adding some dried orange blooms around the edges?
If you want to take your platter to the next level, treat yourself to some fresh and indulgent honeycomb to place on your board. This is a total gamechanger. The sweet and sticky taste of the honey combined with the other flavours and textures on your platter is a combination you and your guests won’t forget any time soon!
And, don’t worry about people getting stuck in straight away and ‘spoiling’ the look of the platter - keeping your ingredients in distinct sections will help the board stay ‘neat’ and a grazing board actually looks more beautiful the more it is enjoyed!