As we dip a toe into the warm waters of the party season, all eyes turn to easy entertaining. And for that, nothing beats a beautiful platter for your guests to nibble on as they arrive. Here are our top tips for creating a plateful of food that looks good enough to eat!
Gone are the days when a couple of dips and a block of cheddar make for a reasonable platter. Thanks to the advent of flat-lay photos on Instagram and Pinterest, our hungry eyes want more.
You want your platter to be as visually appealing as it is delicious, and to do this there are a couple of tricks Mrs Romance has been exploring. I’m very happy to let her practise on me. It feels quite Roman Caesar-esque to feast on a beautiful spread of food like this!
Of course, if it were me, I’d make the platter as unappealing as possible so that by then end of the party, there’d still be plenty left for me and me alone!
But I suppose the idea of me hunkered down in a shameful feeding frenzy lacks the romance of what we’re talking about here, doesn’t it? So here are our top tips for creating a beautiful platter of food.
How to create the perfect platter or grazing plate
– Cheese – choose 2-3 types as you would with a regular cheese board – a soft brie, a blue and something different or more colourful. We’ve used a brie, a gorgonzola picante and some bocconcini here.
– Cold meats or cured fish – for the protein element, look for a range of cut meats; salami, prosciutto, supresso, parma ham. Alternatively smoked salmon is a good option – though doesn’t do so well if it’s left for long.
– Crudités – cut carrot, celery or capsicum into strips or fresh asparagus makes a nice change.
– Fruit – it’s best to choose fruit that goes with the cheese, but things like red grapes on the bunch, blueberries, strawberries and figs all add colour and texture.
– Crackers – don’t just stick to one type of cracker, put a few different types out. And remember your gluten-free guests; rice crackers or GF brands like Wallaby’s are perfect.
– Extra decorations – use herbs or salad leaves to decorate and fill in gaps on the board. You can also scatter olives or nuts like pistachios or walnuts over the platter.
How to assemble
1. Work in proportions – start with the biggest items – usually the cheese – then add meats, then crackers and then fruit.
2. Use angles and different heights – put the cheese at three points of a basic triangle off-centre on the board. If your brie came in its own little box, use it to elevate the brie. It gives extra dimension to the board and also makes it easier to cut the cheese!
3. Add any secondary feature – here, Mrs Romance has created a bocconcini tomato armadillo. Put it opposite your central cheese.
4. Meat – roll or fold you meat, but if it’s in larger slices, don’t be afraid to cut the slices in half. Tear the prosciutto into pieces and pile it up in little heaps around the board.
5. Crackers – stack around and between meat and cheese. You can put some on the table off the board too.
6. Fruit – scatter the fruit in groups across platter filling in gaps and decorating cheese. For things like blueberries, don’t be afraid to let some roll onto the table off the board with the crackers.
7. Fill in gaps and cover more empty board space – use salad leaves or herbs and don’t be afraid to lift stuff up to position leaves underneath. Nuts and olives can go wherever there’s space.
The idea with platters is to cover as much of the board as you can. Really get that feeling of plenty going.
The more piled up the food looks, the better. It might not seem to be the easiest thing to eat from, but it’s not too bad. And from experience, people tend to feel less self-conscious about eating from it than if there’s less on the plate.
It’s a bit like the piles of fruit at the grocer’s vs flat trays. The piles of food seem more plentiful and so people are more likely to take stuff from there. It’s funny, isn’t it?
Anyway, good luck with your grazing platter. Mrs Romance tells me it’s actually really good fun making them like this. I can certainly attest to enjoying eating them!
What do you put on your platters? What sort of entrée spread could I expect if were to pop round one night? Tell us in the comments!