What started as a humble array of cheese and crackers has grown to include cured meats, pickles, fresh and dried fruits in a dish that transcends being a straightforward dining experience to become a truly social event. Ask any West Aussie whether they’ve indulged in a grazing board in the past and chances are you’ll be met by an enthusiastic ‘Yes’!
Forgoing traditional appetizers for an interactive board became popular in the 2010s, though the term ‘grazing board’ appeared first on Australian search radars as early as 2006.
Source: Google Trends
Having hit peak popularity in recent years, the grazing board has cemented itself as a staple for weddings, parties and gatherings of all sizes, thanks to its versatile nature. And we can see why - it’s hard not to enjoy a dish which can, if you want, bring together all your favourite nibbles in a single visually appealing arrangement.
But what does it take to make a humble grazing board truly great? In honour of WA’s Great Graze, a new event concept taking place throughout April, we will celebrate the amazing food and beverages of WA. Read on to discover our top tips and tricks on how to create the perfect grazing board below:
1. Start with a solid base...
As the name implies, grazing boards are often served on just that – large wooden slabs, often stored awkwardly in the kitchen cupboard till the perfect occasion arises.
Yet don’t feel beholden to only using cheeseboards – marble pastry boards, plates, metal trays lined with baking paper or a flat casserole dish can work just as well. Items with sides are especially handy if you’re pre-preparing and transporting your board.
Ramekins, small baking moulds/tins, saucers and even shot glasses can be used as vessels to hold dips or sliced ingredients that must sit separately to the rest of your board.
It doesn't matter if you don't have a cheese board - any plate, bowl or platter will do!
2. Planning & preparation is key to success
If you just thought “Do I really need to plan out a straightforward grazing board?” – the answer is ‘Yes’! Delivering a great grazing experience means knowing exactly how much you’ll need per ingredient so no one misses out, plus understanding the dietary requirements and how this may impact the arrangement.
Tips to help plan your graze:
- According to the website ‘Chef Not Required’ 50gm of cheese per guest is a good starting place, aiming for a minimum of at least 3 cheese varieties. We’d recommend using WA brands such as Cambray Cheese, Dellendale Creamery, Ha Ve Harvey Cheese and Halls Family Dairy, for a blend of varieties and the best flavours.
- Keep meats separate, where possible, or bordered by other ingredients. Crackers can make for great dividers, and this allows vegetarians some meat-free grazing zones!
- Consider the size of your board/platter in relation to the ingredients you’ll add, cutting food into bite-size portions before compiling. Halve or quarter WA apples and pears to make them easier to eat; ensure cured meats are thinly sliced – it helps them go further; and use smaller ingredients, like cherry tomatoes and strawberries, whole to give the arrangement extra visual appeal (just don’t forget a small bowl for discarding any pips or strawberry tops).
- Don’t forget to decant dips into small bowls and better yet - if you’re making your own, select plenty of fresh WA vegetables to create a variety of distinct dip flavours such a green pesto, beetroot, roasted capsicum or fresh salsa.
- The more people sharing means the more access required – a grazing board catering for more than 5 people may need dips and cheese divided so they’re available at both ends (or across multiple boards).
Aim for bite-sized portions for an easier grazing experience.
3. Fresh is best
Fresh, locally grown produce helps bulk up your grazing experience and using in-season ingredients can be a cost-effective way to diversify the flavours of your graze, especially if you remember to hit up your local Farmers Market the weekend prior.
But if you’re short on time, simply head into your local grocer and look for #BuyWestEatBest labelled produce. Autumn is the perfect time to fill your graze with new season apples, both fresh or dried, sliced pear, grapes served on the vine and melon balls (or cubes if you’re sans a baller).
In-season nuts, including macadamia, walnuts or roasted chestnuts, are also a great source of texture for your grazing board. The Genuinely Southern Forrest region is currently abundant with autumnal produce, so those travelling ‘Douth’ should keep an eye out for ingredients to enjoy during their South West grazing adventures.
Grab ingredients that are in-season, for the best flavours and a lower costing graze.
Hopefully, these hints help elevate your next grazing experience! We are taking part in WA’s Great Graze all this month, using WA ingredients in our grazing experiences and showing support for WA farmers, fishers and producers, who work hard to ensure we have wonderful ingredients available all year round!
To find out more, discover seasonal ingredients or to see what events are taking place near you, visit: www.wagreatgraze.com.au