I’m going assume you heard about the viral sensation that was, and then wasn’t, #butterboards?
Viral is probably the optimum word for those who slathered wooden boards in butter, cream cheese, peanut butter and Nutella. But boy did they look good!
#butterboard showed me there is little wrong with a good aul sharing board, and that while we all love good looking foodie bits on the ‘Gram, some would do well to freshen up on their food hygiene 101 before posting.
Of course, may I remind you there is nothing wrong with a #butterboard / #sharingboard for one (it’s a favourite Me Treat at the end of a long week while my other half is down the local). Or for two – if he insists on staying home, and at this stage I’d hope we’re immune to each other’s microbial foibles.
Inspired by those #butterboards, I went in search of pretty things on boards, platters, plates and found plenty of Insta Inspo to get us through these long nights.
As soon as I saw these charcuterie cones from @dishedbyrachel, I was smitten. Bamboo cones filled with slices of your favourite cured meats folded over and skewered with a juicy blackberry, accompanied by a little round of cream-y brie-like cheese, figs and scented with sage. These may be individual portions, but the display is so inviting it deserves to be thought of as food for sharing.
Surely the ultimate sharing board experience is Mezze, with its enticing array of dips, olives, pickles, breads and bites. In Cork, Palestinian eatery, Izz Café, (@cafeizz) is well known for it’s beautifully presented mezze sharing platters. Everything is made fresh daily using recipes from owners, Izzeddeen and Eman Alkarajeh, homeland. There is dolma (fragrant rice wrapped in vine leaves), hummus flavoured with different spices and vegetables, fresh and vibrant tabbouleh, smoky baba ghanoush, pickles, sambals, and light, fluffy oven fired flatbreads to bring it all together.
Who loves diving into the crispness of an indulgent seafood platter? They’re one of my all-time favourite treats, but I try to avoid platters filled with lots of generic seafood that could be from anyway. Two signs of a well curated shellfish platter are seasonality and location. Like anything we eat, seafood in season at the time of eating will taste better, and location because not all seafood can be found everywhere. That’s why I love the look of this platter from @wrightbrosltd with lesser found whelks and brown shrimp sitting beside super fresh oysters, mussels, prawns and dressed brown crab. I just want to dive straight in!
Between him and I, we have a joint capacity for eating sushi and sashimi that verges on the gluttonous. If there is an opportunity for it, we will take it. Of course, not all sushi and sashimi are created equal, and far from the casualness with which many of us consume it these days, in Japan it’s eaten infrequently, still considered a meal served for special occasions. This explains why the best sushi/sashimi I have ever had is at Ichigo Ichie, chef Takashi Miyazaki’s (@miyazaki_cork) one-star fine dining Japanese restaurant in Cork.
Ichigo Ichie translates as once in a lifetime, and so as you might expect, quality, presentation, taste and flavour are incredibly high. The restaurant serves Kaiseki, a tasting menu that changes with the seasons and unfolds like a story, or a journey. The sashimi course is always outstanding with raw, cured or torched fish presented in many ways with specific garnishes. Rejoice if the hand cut squid ‘noodles’ are in season – I could eat them for days.
If ever there was a way to make sure to get in your five-a-day, it has to be good-food-guru Melissa Hemsley’s (@melissa.hemsley) idea for a virtuous grazing platter. Few things are as satisfying as super fresh crunchy vegetables dunked and dredged through hummus and things. Back a while, I guess we would have called these dips and crudites. But now we graze – on red chicory, breakfast radishes, mini peppers and cucumbers and raw baby asparagus. We pop sweet cherry tomatoes, relish mellow figs with buttery bocconcini and sharp mature cheddar, with spiced hummus and garlicky pesto for flavour bombs. Eating the rainbow has never looked so good!
Party On Board
I love having people round to share food with, drink great wine, catch up and generally have the craic, but I don’t always want to run myself ragged cooking up a storm. Enormous party platters are the way forward, and a happy compromise, too. Your guests don’t feel obligated to eat the meal you’ve spent all day making, and you don’t have to cook!
Instead, put your efforts into selecting a great local deli to pop into, and spend your money wisely on really great quality and ready to eat morsels, along with a few bottles of wine. Use your time to arrange your deliciously tasty things beautifully on your best platter and uncork the wine.
Make like @justjennys_boards and serve a three-course ‘meal’ all on one platter: nibbles to start, cheese and meats for mains, and sweet bites for dessert. Ta-dah!
Cheesy Does It
I can barely be trusted around a cheeseboard; but I’m not looking for redemption, just more ideas for the many delectable ways in which I can eat more cheese, please!
Ditch the grapes from our cheeseboards and embrace fruits distinctly more Irish. Apples and pears are better suited to our palate and work better with Irish cheese, typically milder in flavour than our continental counterparts. There are many things I love about this post by @babaganoushyorkshire – I love the presentation of the ripe conference pear, and only two cheeses but presented as gargantuan slabs. The just-melting hunk of golden honeycomb the sauce that brings everything together.
Get Figgy With It
I was looking for inspiration for a fruit board, but everything was all a bit same-same. Obligatory Dragon Fruit, weird shapes, blueberries stuffed into carved-out pieces of pineapple, three types of melon, etc. As far as fruit goes, not a huge variety grows on our little green island – apples, pears, strawberries are about where it’s at – and, of course, figs.
No other seasonal fruit excites me more than the prospect of fig season. They are the prettiest of all fruits, my absolute favourite to eat, and when you open them up, they reveal their jewel-like garnet flesh. They are so good cooked with a little honey, or raw on good sourdough with some creamy Ardsallagh goat cheese and pistachios. So, when I came across @orangeblossom2015 simple but beautiful homage to figs, I knew I had found the fruit board to inspire me!
All The Cake
You might be satisfied with a cake board made up on slices of Battenburg and some leftover Tea Brack, but I subscribe to @miliwonkatreats vision of cake boards, like the one she created for a bridal shower.
Cakesicles (cakes shaped like mini magnums), mini cupcakes (no more getting buttercream icing on the end of your nose), chocolate dipped strawberries (sprayed with edible gold), cake truffles (a cake pop without the stick, for the record), and chocolate dipped mini Oreo cookies and pretzels.
Apparently for sharing…
Cream Tea Board
Remember what I said about boards and creamy things and germs? Well, there an exception – although when I do get around to making this, I promise to ditch the wooden board for something better suited!
I’m originally from Bristol – the West Country – a place where people are three-quarters clotted cream, one-quarter fluffy white scone and jam, and always arguing about whether the cream goes on the scone first or last.
One way to settle the score is to make this “West Country Twist on the viral butter board” by @threelittlefigsuk. Lash on a pot of Rodda’s clotted cream, drizzle the strawberry jam, and dredge with a curney scone. I’ve found Nirvana!
WRITTEN BY KATE RYAN – @FLAVOUR.IE