How to create the perfect Aperitif aka Grazing Platter
July 08, 20195 min read
The perfect cheese platter is, to me, quintessentially Summer. Watching the sun go down, sitting on the terrace, winding down the end of day spent with good friends & family after a day out on the lake waterskiing or strolling the local streets and sitting back with an ice cold Rose & delicious platter of some of my favourite all-time snacks? Come on, Life doesn’t get much better than that! A perfect Aperitif, platter or ‘drinks o'clock’ really is the ideal way to end your day. Work or no work, friends or solo, outdoor picnic or private home, evenings improvised at the last moment are often the best. A special time to cherish moments with your favourite friends and share with a non-stress approach to a plethora of fun snacks in the form of a deconstructed platter, these are the moments I live for!
While the concept of Aperitivo hour and a good platter has been around for a while (think back to he egg sandwich’s of the 70’s, the celery ‘boats’ of the 80’s, crostini of the 90’s…. it’s fair to say that platter porn is a real thing and these guys are getting better looking & more creative every year that goes by. The best part? (Other than the ability to satisfy your tastebuds exact desires and go from sweet to savoury, crispy to smooth in a matter of seconds) is the lack of kitchen time and busying yourself with dishes / food prep while your guests enjoy the delicious morsels you have prepped earlier. So what we’re saying is, Platters really are the perfect solution for an aperitif, whether it’s a throw together last minute get together or a long-lost reconnection of high-school pals. And lucky for you, we have prepared a list on how to prepare the perfect appetizer board to knock the socks off your next get together. Here goes my friends…
1) Create a cheese assortment (The toughest decision!)
The sky really is the limit when it comes to Cheese… how long is a piece of string!? From a creamy soft Brie to the harder Elemental to a fragrant Cumin Gouda to a Smokey cheddar… For a balanced platter we suggest 2-3 types of varied cheese(I mean as many as possible…) Blue cheese, Feta & Goats cheese are the stronger varieties and are often a perfect 3rd or 4th addition to the platter and sprinkled in crumbs as you don’t need much of these to taste the bite.
Get experimental and trial & error to find the best partnership between your cold meat, sweetener and selected cheese (Yes, it’s essential you test before it gets in the hands of your guests, promise.)
2) Cold meat / A protein
Personally I am a vegetarian but it’s hard to give the cold meats a miss when we’re creating a perfectly balanced appetizer platter board. Ideally we would suggest to choose between 2-3 cold meats for a balanced (both visually & taste-palette wise!) cold meats. Some favourites would be salami and cured ham to appeal to all your guests flavor desires but don’t hesitate to be creative and test out various cold meats that you’re not used to, the platter is the perfect place to try these out! (For the fellow vegetarians out there, you could try slicing up a vegan sausage or pan fry some tempe slices to add an extra slice of Protein to the board.)
3) Fresh Bread
Homemade bread, buns with seeds, baguette or slices of peasant bread rubbed with tomato, the choice for your base is wide so go to town & mix it up!
In case of a Gluten free guest, be sure to pop in a few Oat crackers (Gluten free type) or Rice Crackers to make sure they can enjoy the platter party too. A couple of varieties of crackers not only make the platter look more fun, it’s a good way to taste the different flavours of the cheese / meat if the bread is too much.
5) A lubricant.
Think Hummus, Basil Pesto, Beetroot Dip, Cottage Cheese or the classic Kiwi Dip (For those who know – you know). A delicious little extra you might want to add here (form our French friends) is Crudité – an epic creamy cheese sauce which is used to soak up your bread / crackers of vege sticks…. I know, WHAT!? Recipe is at the end of this list…. Read on friends!
6) The fun stuff.
Now you have laid down the essentials, it’s time to fill in the gaps with all the fun stuff! Think Toasted seeds, crunchy nuts, cashews, chunks of dark chocolate, strawberries, sliced fruit, dried apricots, corn chips, Fresh popcorn, Olives, cherry tomatoes, grapes… the options are a plenty! We suggest to try and keep this a delicious balance between sweet & savoury to satisfy all your guests desires.
7) Bring some colorful garnish
Once you have placed all of your main items on the platter, it’s time to get really creative! Seeds, crackers, biscuits, rolled up dried fruit ... lots of little things to nibble, and so many ways in which to display them! Laid in neat rows or deconstructed and a little of something repeated across the board…. Decide your method and begin placing! It’s also at this point we can start to think about a little something extra & colourful to add some pizazz and fun to the board like edible flowers, cherry tomatoes, fruit cut up in unique shapes, some greenery…This is also a good opportunity to add in some Carrots / Celery if the board is looking a little colour-lacking!
8) A sweet little bonus!
I wasn’t a fan on this situation featuring on my platter for years….until I finally tried it. An addition of a little sweetener in the form of honey or fruit jam is absolutely essential and really is the icing on the cake to all the bits & bobs already featuring on the platter. Once your guests try this mix of salty and sweet, I can guarantee their tastebuds will be blown & you’ll be the talk of platter-town. Honey (either straight from the jar served in a bowl or from the honeycomb) is the perfect addition to a piece cheese atop a crispy baguette slice drowned down with a good drop of wine….ahhh bliss.
Of course! Ain’t no platter a real thing until it’s accompanied with a crispy White, delicious Red of Cold Rose (Season permitting of course!) Don’t forget to put a few bottles of good wine in the fridge before the festivities so that they are ice cold when your pals arrive.
BONUS: If you havn't ever tried a Crudite sauce... our Friends from France tell us we are missing out on one of the best things to graze this planet... and let's be real, these guys know a thing or 2 about platters & cheese! So here goes:
Recipe for the perfect crudité sauce:
5 Sprigs of Chives, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons of Cottage Cheese
2 Tablespoons of chopped Parsley
2 Tablespoons of Runny Cream
1 teaspoon Mustard
Pinch of Salt
Mix the cottage cheese, cream and the mustard together, beating well.
Add the parsley and the chives. And salt.
Leave it in the fridge to set.
This creamy delicious dip is good for up to 3 days (If it makes it past day 1!)
Let us know how you go with your platters for your next Aperitivo hour and don't forget to tag us on your next platter creation project! Use the hashtag #Aperitivo #LaLunaRose, we would love to see and share your creations! x
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