Her platters are a symphony of tastes, colours and textures and for ours are best enjoyed poolside at The Bower (simply order one to be delivered to your room), or as part of a picnic set up on the beach to enjoy, Byron-style. Actually to be honest, a good grazing platter is an essential wherever you are at this time of year, so here or there, start with creating exciting flavour and colour combinations and marry them with some fab styling/presentation ideas. Over to you Katie….
“There’s nothing we love more than styling together some amazing local, seasonal ingredients paired with delicate cheeses, in one of our gorgeous recycled wooden box or hampers,” says Katie. “A platter should not only be a feast for the tastebuds but also a visual feast for the eyes and I’m delighted to share some of my tips and tricks to achieving that with The Bower blog readers.”
Tips and Tricks for Styling
I use vibrant colours to make the platter really pop which will have guests salivating before they tuck in. Use seasonal fruits such as blood oranges and grapefruits, lemons or limes cut in halves or quarters, as well as handfuls of seasonal berries to toss in any empty spaces to add texture and bright pops of colour. Then add in handfuls of fresh thyme, sage, rosemary, mint or basil to add a beautiful aroma.
I love to combine sweet and savoury as well as textures. I try to think in a sensory way when creating our platters: hot or cold, crunchy or soft, spicy or mild etc.
Start With the Cheeses and Your Wines
The quest to find the perfect wine + cheese combo is as important as finding your life partner (and easier). However, just like partners, not every wine goes with every cheese, so give a few different combinations a try. You can stick with classic pairings, tried and tested, or expand your horizons with a contemporary twist.
Blue (pungent, salty) - Gorgonzola, Bleu, Cambozola, Stilton,
Fresh (soft, tangy/mild) - Ricotta, Mozzarella, Goat, Feta, Burrata
Hard (sharp + salty) - Gouda, Cheddar, Parmesan, Pecorino, Gruyere
Bloomy (creamy, soft rind) - Brie, Camembert, Robiola
I include at least one type of cheese from each of the four groups. (Tip: take cheeses out of the fridge 30 to 60 minutes prior to serving so flavours can emerge).
Here are some classic combinations (think Romeo + Juliet, but a happier ending).
Champagne & Brie/Triple creams: The creaminess and rich texture of these silky cheeses simply melts away in the bubbles of the Champagne.
Personal favourites: Ruinart Blanc de Blanc or Veuve Clicquot Brut
Prosecco & Parmesan: The Italian saying ‘La Dolce Vita’ (The Good Life) may have been penned with this combination in mind. The bubbles in the Prosecco cut perfectly through the saltiness of this hard cheese.
Cabernet Sauvignon & Aged Gouda – the nutty flavour combination matched with this tannic, full-bodied wine equals perfection!
Riesling & Ricotta: Sweet and deliciously creamy ricotta loves being paired with a tangy Riesling (sample both the sweet + dry variations before deciding on your favourite).
Mozzarella & Pinot Grigio: This soft, slightly sweet cheese is balanced perfectly with the acidity of the Pinot Grigio.
Pinot Noir & Brie: This dream combination brings out the brie’s distinct flavours, while remaining light enough not to overwhelm them.
(Personal favourite: I recommend trying Natus Pinot Noir, Black label).
Port & Blue Cheese: This crumbly and pungent blue cheese is matched with the sweetness and thick body of a port wine.
Now it’s time to build in the other elements of your grazing platter. Start thinking about what fresh and dried fruits, chutneys and jams you can use to help provide a bridge between the wine and cheese. For example, figs, grapes, berries and peaches pair with milk and creamy cheeses, while pears, apricots and apples match better with flinty, harder cheeses (these also benefit from the added sweetness of a fresh jam or compote).
To charcuterie or not to charcuterie?
It’s up to you! We recommend speck, Serrano ham, soppressata, salami and prosciutto (Tip: stuff dates with cheese + wrap in prosciutto – heaven).
Nuts and more:
Add in handfuls of nuts (I love toasted walnuts, pistachios, cashews), to help bring out the nuttiness of cheese even more. Try and source wild honeycomb and place in chunks (or a good bush honey will do) and for extra pops of colour and flavour, add in some tapenade, home-made pesto, semi-dried tomatoes, green olives, dark chocolate, and fresh basil.
The bread and crackers:
Layer in freshly baked, crusty breads (think sourdough, baguettes, mini ciabatta and rye) and delicious artisanal crackers. If you’re in Byron, we recommend Sunday Sustainable Bakery for your breads and Byron Bay Crackers from any good supplier. (local company Nutty Bay do amazing vegan dips which work beautifully with bread and crackers too).
How to serve?
I love using a variety of shapes and sizes for my platters depending on their use - will guests be enjoying them on the beach, by the pool, in their villa or taking them in a hamper and enjoying them as a picnic. I particularly love anything wooden - I own a variety of hampers, trays, platters or boxes which I use interchangeably when throwing together a platter. Remember to create shapes and a little height so the platter has a depth to it. And don’t feel as though you need to cut everything into small pieces. Guests love to rip apart a piece of bread and pair it together with a slab of cheese. There’s nothing formal about this style of food, so make sure you leave it to guests to enjoy with their hands.
Tip: We always serve our platters with linen napkins for guests. It adds a luxury touch to the symphony of tastes, colours and textures you’ve created.