Now that we’re starting to relax restrictions, it’s time to catch up with old friends over a bite to eat and a good bottle of wine. We assume you’ve got the mains sorted out, but it’s good to have some nibbles and a platter going to keep everyone occupied till the real event gets kicked off. We spoke to the queen of hosting, Annabel Langbein, about how to be the king of hosting, namely through the use of a centerpiece platter, whether you’re buying it all and arranging it, or making it from scratch.
- A platter can be as simple as a big wedge of cheese with some fresh and dried fruit, crackers and cheese. Dried figs and dried pears are good with cheese, as are almonds or walnuts and crispy crackers or crostini. In terms of fresh fruit, pears are fabulous with blue cheese, while a crisp apple makes a good partner to tangy cheddar cheeses. If you have a whole round of cheese, cut a wedge out and pop it to the side so people don’t feel intimidated about making the first cut.
- If you want a cheese platter that goes beyond one cheese, a good combo to aim for is a soft cheese like brie or a washed rind; a hard cheese like an aged cheddar, gouda or comte; and either a blue or a goat cheese. Things always look better in odd numbers, so three cheeses is ideal.
- For more of an antipasto platter approach, I like to serve a couple of thinly sliced cured meats, such as very finely sliced prosciutto and a good quality salami; a couple of dips such as hummus or salsa verde; deli treats like preserved artichokes, olives, baby gherkins and some caper berries; and a selection of fresh vegetable bites like cherry tomatoes, blanched beans, asparagus, snow peas or florets of cauliflower. On the side, I’ll put bowls of focaccia or ciabatta for people to dip and spread with.