We recently spoke with Libby Gardner, foodie and founder of The Platter Project about the secrets of the perfect platter. She showed us that the art of the Aperitivo platter is easy to learn. Her handy tips are sure to impress your guests… or even your hosts!
Start with a solid base
Use a large wooden, ceramic or marble cutting board/platter to showcase your Aperitivo snacks. Place a sheet of baking paper on the platter to give the platter a rustic look and feel. It also makes the platter easy to clean.
Choose quality foods
Ensure you buy fresh, quality produce – and this doesn’t mean the most expensive items on the shelf.
“I speak to people about produce every time I go to the shops. I like to know what’s new, what’s coming and what’s the most delicious.”
Big items first, then medium, then fill the gaps
A carefully planned platter is easy on the eye as well as the palate, and accessible for guests too. Place large items like dips, cheeses or a bunch of grapes on the board first, then add medium items like cured meats and canapes. Fill in the remaining gaps with smaller dried fruits, nuts and olives, then finish with something decorative like a flower from the garden. Using different textured foods will also add intrigue to your platter.
“I like to use nuts as a separator for vegetarian items and/or oily foods on the platter, unless someone is allergic.”
Cheese is always a favourite! Provide a selection of soft and hard, local and imported cheeses. Italian varieties like Gorgonzola, Pecorino Romano, Bocconcini and Caprino (goat cheese) are always crowd pleasers. You can also never go wrong with something a little gooey like Burrata or Brie.
Most cheeses are best served at room temperature – remove them from the fridge about 30 minutes before serving and cover with a wet tea towel to stop them sweating.
Breads and crackers
Breads, crackers and Italian breadsticks like Grissini are an Aperitivo essential.
“I like to keep my breads, crackers and breadsticks in a separate basket to allow my guests move around a little rather than all being crowded around one platter.”
Consider the season
Seasonal produce is always best but make sure you check the weather and upcoming holidays. Hot and humid weather will often make guests feel like something lighter and cooling like cheddar, veggie sticks with dips, and fresh fruit. In winter, choose richer foods like blue and brie cheeses, and cured meats such as bresaola and prosciutto.
‘It is so important to choose colours that suit the weather and time of year. It will add mood and atmosphere to your event.”
Flowers, native leaves and robust herbs like rosemary make the perfect decoration to further entice the senses. They’re also handy for filling gaps between the foods. Make sure that you don’t use anything poisonous from the garden and everything is appropriately washed.
“For my larger platters I like to add signage to point out the different cheeses and foods for people with dietary requirements.”
Don’t forget the Aperol!
Prepare a carafe of Aperol Spritz so that your guests have something equally delicious and beautiful to enjoy with the tasty treats. Making an Aperol Spritz is as easy: Combine equal parts Prosecco and Aperol add a splash of soda.
For a single serve:
- Take a large wine glass – about 420ml
- Fill the glass with ice
- Combine equal parts Prosecco and Aperol
- Add a splash soda
- Finish with a wedge of orange
For a 1 litre carafe follow the same equal parts recipe.
Cover photo: The Platter Project