A couple weeks back now, on a warm summer-like evening, I gathered some local friends on perhaps the best patio in town (Canon) for a chance to hang and indulge in the ultimate grazing table. Canon Chef, Brad Cecchi helped with the various flavor pairings–all revolving around Blue Diamond’s new line of Crafted Gourmet almonds–and I helped style the scene. I brought my favorite ceramic bowls, seasonal spring blooms, and of course candles to set the mood as the sun went down. We even had a four course almond to wine pairing which was quite the hit (I think almost everyone went back for multiple tastings, or at least I did). A simple cheese platter is my go-to when I’m hosting friends but to take it one step further, for larger gatherings, creating a full “grazing table” filled with a variety of flavors, cheeses, and appetizers is sure to be a party win. I love that a grazing table takes the pressure off the host as people can help themselves throughout the evening, and it lends to a more casual gathering. Heavier dishes were passed but having the smaller bites displayed in the center of the party makes it easy for everyone to grab mid-conversation.
5 Tips for creating the ultimate grazing table for summer entertaining:
1. Incorporate a variety of flavors so there’s something for everyone. Cecchi focused on mediterranean flavors for the evening to tie in with the four gourmet flavors: Pink Himalayan Salt, Garlic Herb and Olive Oil, Rosemary and Sea Salt, and Black Truffle. Combinations included: goat cheese with the black truffle almonds (the tang of the goat cheese plays off the earthiness of the truffle), pink salt and parmesan (the sweetness of the almond shines out against the salty savory of the cheese), and the garlic and herb pairing well with aged brie. Besides the cheeses we also had a few small hors d’oeuvres, meats, and sweet bites towards the end of the night.
2. Fruit and dried fruit! Besides the cheese and nut combinations incorporate something sweet to counter those salty and savory bites. Everyone loves a sweet palette cleanser and the fruits also add pretty pops of color to the table.
3. Add height to your display for interest. I like to mix woods and ceramic bowls to enhance the display. We used one long wooden board for the main cheese and nut display, and various dishes and bowls for other small bites like Canon’s speciality: GORP (a popcorn sweet treat!).
4. Add in greens and tea light candles for ambiance.
5. Labels! People like to know what they’re about to taste. With so much going on it’s helpful to label the various cheeses and dishes that are being served.
The wine pairing |
Pink Himalayan Salt–Rose of Grenache, Jane Ventura, Reserva de la Musica, Spain 2015
Black Truffle–Albarino, Nvidia Cochina, Rias Baixas, Spain 2016
Rosemary & Sea Salt–Chardonnay, Jacques Charlet, La Crochette, Macon-Villages, Burgundy, France 2015
Garlic, Herb & Olive Oil–Sangiovese, Selvapiana, Chianti Rufina, Tuscany, Italy 2014
Thank you to Blue Diamond for partnering on such a fun evening!
Florals | Thistle & Honey
Photography | Susan Yee