Everyone is creating beautiful grazing boards on Instagram. Here’s a guide to making your own for parties, events or maybe a particularly luxurious night in front of the TV.
After so much time spent under lockdown restrictions, the novelty of hosting events and parties is yet to wear off. In fact, the return of the party is encouraging many to find new ways to entertain from home that they’d never considered before. This started with tablescaping, which people got seriously good at during lockdown, and the art of decorating your table has now evolved, with grazing tables back in a big way.
You might remember grazing tables from your childhood, whether it was individually packeted crisps and sweets spread out across a plastic table at a school disco or your aunty’s potato salad taking centre stage at a family buffet. But the grazing table has now been given the Instagram treatment, as people are artistically curating their platters, making them an aesthetic feature at the events and parties they are hosting.
“A grazing table is basically a huge, fancy cheeseboard,” says Florence Swift, the founder of Garner and Graze, a catering company based in London specialising in grazing tables and boxes. “It’s all about making sure the grazing table feels beautiful and creative to you – there really aren’t many rules.”
Although there are no strict directions you need to follow to make your own grazing table, it can be difficult to know where to start. Here, Florence shares her tips for making a stunning (and delicious) grazing board.
Of course, you want your grazing table to look great but there’s no need to compromise on taste to achieve this. Florence always buys seasonal fruits and vegetables for her grazing tables. “They taste the best and they help bring some sort of theme to your table,” she says.
This will help you narrow down the selection of fruits and vegetables you can choose from. When it comes to other food groups, simply choose your favourite cheeses, crackers and dips to add to the platter. “I recommend choosing about four different types of cheeses for variation,” Florence says.
Make the most of preparation time
The great thing about a grazing platter is that it rarely requires you to cook anything beforehand, making the preparation fairly straightforward. “The only thing I prep is my fruit and veg,” Florence says. “I wash them, cut them up and then store them in the fridge so they’re ready to go.”
You can start to prepare your grazing table about an hour before your guests will eat it. Any earlier, you risk the food tasting a little bit off, particularly the fruit and vegetables which might go soggy.
Experiment with colour
“The most important thing about grazing boards, in my opinion, is that they’re really colourful,” Florence says. Choose a variation of colours when you buy your fruits and vegetables to bring vibrancy to your table and display them in a way that highlights the different colours.
“Sometimes I do pick a specific colour scheme, like pink and red,” Florence says, adding that this can help make your table look well put together and cohesive. If you do want to use lots of different colours, make sure they’re spread out across the table and play around with where things are sat until you’re happy with the colour combinations.
Be clever with your accessories
There’s no need to spend a lot of money on new accessories for your grazing table. Instead of buying new plates or cutlery that match the theme of your table, Florence recommends choosing statement items instead. “Nice cheese tongs or an interesting pot to hold your cutlery will bring a lot to your table,” she says.
She also suggests buying some edible flowers, which you can scatter across your table and use in drinks as another visual element.
“I also take all of the foods I buy out of the packaging, apart from cheeses and jams that come in really beautiful paper or jars,” Florence says. She adds that you should try to avoid putting your food on plates before adding it to your grazing table. Instead, put a layer of parchment paper down on the table and place your food directly onto it.
Start decorating with big items
When it comes to adding the food onto your grazing table, Florence suggests starting with the biggest items first. “Put big items in the corner and the centre and that will create an outline,” she explains. “You can then fill the gaps with smaller items.”
Take your time decorating your table and move things around if you aren’t happy with them. “It takes me about an hour to set up my tables, if not more,” Florence says.
Let your grazing table get messy
The idea of a grazing table is that people will pick at it, so try not to worry that your hard work decorating it is being ruined. Instead, embrace the mess. “I think it’s quite beautiful to see the table getting messy as gaps appear,” Florence says.
If there is any food leftover, cheese, crackers and dips can mostly be stored and eaten for days and weeks afterwards. If you notice the fruit and vegetables haven’t been eaten, try to put them back into the fridge as quickly as possible. If lots of the food is leftover, you could even create mini grazing boxes (like the ones Florence makes) for your guests to take home.
Images: Garner and Graze