If you think that opening bags of chips and dumping them into the nearest bowl is an acceptable method of party catering, then we applaud you. But if you’re looking to impress your guests at your next gathering, get Instagram likes trend is where it’s at.
Platters are all about abundance and ease, unlike delicate, small canapés that take hours to prepare, as they can be passed around a party and nibbled on without the use of silverware.
And because everything is an Instagram opportunity nowadays, they’re also typically adorned with colourful fruits, veggies, and leaves (the #grazingplatter hashtag has more than 50,000 photos and counting).
To give you a head start on your holiday celebrations, we asked Rose Lloyd Owen, founder of Peardrop London and creator of its delectable Moveable Feasts, which contain an abundance of platters, how to create the most attractive displays for any gathering.
According to Rose, the trend of grazing stations originated in Australia and has gradually spread to the United States. I believe that people have been seeking something a little bit unusual to do at their parties, and grazing stations have the added benefit of being both beautiful and a topic of conversation. It has also influenced social media; we are often asked for Instagrammable meals.
The easiest approach is to order a platter, but if you’re interested in making your own, here’s the definitive DIY grazing platter guide. Put yours out when your visitors arrive and prepare to be showered with compliments.
Rose recommends using complementary hues to break up solid blocks of colour, such as lemon wedges on a plate of smoked salmon or lambs lettuce under pork pies. Separate the meat and cheese with sprigs of herbs and colour-coded slices of charcuterie.
If you want to use brilliant edible flowers, nasturtiums are the best option. Fruit is also an excellent way to add splashes of colour; try cutting three types of melons (cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon) into wedges and arranging them in lines.
Putting things in segments and strips gives the dish more order and makes it look better.
She adds, “I would highly recommend varying the heights of food, as different elevations are vital for producing visual impact and making things simpler to reach.”
Old boxes, baskets, or miniature inverted crates can be utilized for a more rustic style, while perspex, stone, or gold containers can be used for a more modern aesthetic. You also have a cake stand, a handy prop that is always in stock.
Take a dip
Everyone enjoys a good dipping sauce, but how can it be presented on a platter? Make use of small tumblers or even shot glasses with a larger capacity.
I like to serve dips in bowls of varying sizes, and I always consider the garnish. To improve store-bought hummus, try roasting (canned) chickpeas in smoked paprika, honey, and chilli, or top pea and mint dip with feta and extra-virgin olive oil.
What about the no-nos?
Fish and chicken liver pate spread on toast quickly turn brown, and kimchi should be avoided due to its pungent odour.
Get on board
Rose recommends using cutting boards and trays for serving, but nothing with a pattern. I frequently discover nice items at West Elm and H&M homes are reasonably priced. It is also feasible to place food directly on the table on food-safe paper.
Plating or not plating? As Rose explains, “It’s always tough, but it all depends on the ambience of the party.” ‘ For a classier occasion, side plates and cheese knives are required, especially if there are a large number of older guests.
Additionally, napkins are required at all times, but if it’s a Christmas party, I prefer to eat a sausage or piece of Jamon with my fingers! Instead of plates, you can purchase these amazing bamboo boats and cones online.
Alternatively, construct little salads in glasses by stacking mozzarella, rocket, and grilled peach or plum, depending on the season.
“Ultimately, abundance is crucial,” concludes Rose. If you just have a small group of people over for dinner, try to squeeze as much as possible onto the table or platter by piling on extra flowers, candles, plates, bread, and napkins along the edges.
Bread and fruit (e.g., grapes or pineapple) are effective space-fillers. Vases of flowers are a must-have for me as well.
If the flowers and leaves aren’t touching the food, they don’t have to be edible. Eucalyptus works, and ferns are beautiful. Carrot or radish bunches, topped with their own foliage, make for a lively ornament. Plants, herbs in pots, and greenery from outside can also be used as cheap table decorations.
Another piece of advice is to place the grazing table in the centre of the room, rather than against a wall so that guests can serve themselves from all sides. Ensure that at least one individual is working to maintain order!’