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November 11, 2019

How to Make a Grazing Table for Your Next Party

Grazing Table

 

Party season is upon us, and we’re always looking for ways to make it easier, while still delighting our guests. Most of us have a few tried and true tricks up our sleeve that we trot out for a bash, but lately, I’ve wanted something new to add to the arsenal. I was down a Pinterest rabbit hole not too long ago and discovered “grazing tables.” 

The concept of a graze is to create a lavish buffet jam-packed on a table and: Ta-Da! Instant party!

Let’s face it; many of us are perfectly happy skipping a sit-down dinner and standing around, cocktail in hand, gabbing and snacking. For the host, the entire preparation happens before the guests arrive. For the guests, they are stunned (literally) by the groaning board and happily make their way around it, snacking as they go. 

If you’re planning a holiday cocktail party (or any other fete, for that matter), this is an easy and unique way to go. Our 9’ grazing table would feed 25 to 40, with a couple of feet taken up by the arrangement in the middle. You can adjust quantities to your crowd or your table.

Here’s how we did it:

Gather: 

Shopping List: this comes first, and we’ve included ours below. You can change it up according to your personal tastes, and make it a little less cheese and charcuterie heavy by adding some cocktail shrimp and smoked fish. 

Equipment List: 

Various bowls for dips, olives, cornichons. 

Small cake stands and footed bowls to add height 

Spreaders, small spoons, and knives for cheese and dips

Brown butcher paper for table

A few cheese boards

Centerpiece:

We were using a very long table and wanted something non-edible to take up some of the space. We turned to Marlee from Marfloral to create a dramatic arrangement of holiday greenery. She also supplied some eucalyptus and branches to decorate the edges of the table once we were done. Have some extra greens on hand to fill in gaps. 

Preparation:

Have a prep station near your table. Unwrap all the cheeses, unbox the crackers, slice the breads, cut the cheese cubes (if using), slice hard salami, make or decant dips into small bowls. Wash and prepare vegetables. 

Cover table with butcher or brown paper leaving about 4 inches of table visible. 

Grazing Table Before

 

We started with the larger things:

1. Place the larger pieces of cheese around the table on footed stands or wood cheese boards. 

2. Surround with stacks of crackers and bread slices. 

3. Tuck folded salamis around cheeses. Make piles of prosciutto or ham. Create ribbons or piles of salami disks. 

4. Add any standing items. We placed breadsticks and pretzels rods in glasses for height.

5. Add bowls of dips and surround with piles of crudite (rainbow carrots, snap peas, celery sticks, grape tomatoes)

6. We skewered cherry tomatoes with tiny mozzarella balls and made a few stacks of those. 

7. Drape large clusters of grapes around the edges of the table (we used green, red, and blue seedless). Tuck smaller clusters in empty spots. 

8. Add decor: we halved grapefruits and pomegranates for color. Oranges would work well, too.

9. Fill in the gaps with smaller fruits like pears, strawberries, and figs. Add more bread/crackers if you’ve still got holes. The point is to cover the paper entirely.

10. Sprinkle handfuls of nuts around the edges of the table: pistachios, cashews, almonds, whatever you’d like. 

11. Tuck sprigs of greenery under the paper and along sides of table.

You can drizzle goat cheese with some honey, or sprinkle pomegranate seeds on the tops of wheels of camembert. 

It’s so much easier than this list suggests. Once you get going you get the feel of it and can stand back and rearrange for the most pleasing layout. 

Set up the bar, take a leisurely shower, and VOILA! Get the party started. 

Ideas: Use half your table for savory and the other half for sweet. We did bowls of high quality broken up chocolate bars and bags of Tiny Tates chocolate chip cookies. 

This would work equally well for a round table. Just start with an arrangement in the middle and work around it. 

Read more about Mar Floral here. Contact Mar Floral, Old Saybrook.

Contact: Fromage Fine Foods, Old Saybrook

Read about how to make an Instant Party here.

Grazing Table

Grazing Table

Grazing Table

 

Our shopping list:

Cheese:

1/2 wheel D’affinois cheese (and cut it in half)

Large chunk Le Crémeux

Large chunk Manchego

Small wheel of camembert

Small wheel of Brillat Saverin

One Goat Cheese

One container small mozzarella balls

One bar cheddar sliced into squares

Charcuterie:

8 oz soppressata salami

8 oz hard salami

One spicy unsliced salami

4 oz prosciutto

Fruits and Vegetables:

Large carton strawberries

Two pints tomatoes (one red, one orange)

Snap peas

Celery sticks cut in half

Small carton of figs

4 pears

2 pomegranates

1 grapefruit

2 bags seedless green grapes

1 bag seedless red grapes

1 bag seedless blue grapes 

Breads, Crackers and Dips:

1 Simon’s salted baguette

1 Howard’s fougasse baguette

1 grocery store cranberry walnut bread

Pretzel rods

Big Y home made potato chips

Cedars Tzaziki Dip

Chipotle Hummus (for color)

Homemade Yogurt Onion Dip

Ranch (or blue cheese) Dip

Pesto

(We overdid it a bit on the dips but the hummus disappeared, I’d suggest 3 to 4 max)

A ramekin of Irish butter (optional)

Raincoast crisp crackers

Bread Sticks

Water crackers 

Mini Toast crackers

Wheat crackers

Gluten-free crackers 

(use whatever you like, 4 or 5 boxes is plenty).

Castelvetrano olives

Kalamata olives

Cornichons

Cashews

Pistachios

(we speared the mozzarella balls on grape tomatoes)

Dessert:

In a footed bowl: Tiny Tates chocolate chip cookies, Pepperidge Farm pinwheel cookies, fancy marshmallows. 

We offered another bowl of an assortment of broken up fancy chocolate bars. 

 

Christine at Fromage Fine Foods gave us this list of her favorite cheeses, charcuterie, and extras to make a delicious and varied board:

Swiss Le Cremeux  – cow

Etorki sheep – French

La Tur- Italy cow sheep goat

Humboldt Fog goat California

Dried apricots,candied nuts  & fresh figs

Sweet sopressata

Prosciutto di Parma

Peppered salami

Mixed olives of Greece

Castelvetrano Italian olives

Fig jam and/or local honey

Crackers:

Raincoast Crisps

Baguette

All-American crackers

 

 


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