The Grazing Vessel: Dips, Spreads & Sauces
Dips, spreads, mustards & purees are essential in a grazing platter or grazing table. Finding the right vessel or bowl for these accoutrements is a fun way to add uniqueness to your entertaining table. It will also assist in building visual "flow" with some of the ingredients along with where you choose to place them.
The first thing to consider when selecting your dish is its size in comparison to what you will be serving inside of it. Make sure the size of your dish is appropriate to the amount of food it will contain. We like to create a sense of abundance on our platters without turning them into something sloppy or messy. How your ingredient sits inside its vessel could help add to the elegance of your presentation.
Select The Right Material
Other important things to consider when making this selection is whether or not there is an overall theme that you're attempting to stick to with your design. If so, then evaluating the material might also assist in bringing everything together visually. Bowls or dishes can come in a variety of materials: Glass, porcelain, metal, wood/bamboo, silicone and melamine. All of these can come in different shapes, colors and sizes to match your platter style. You might surprise yourself looking around the kitchen at what you already have that could act as a holder for spreads, sauces or dips.
Use With A Theme
A theme might also open the door to using something a little more creative. You could use something that most people might not have looked at for holding a dip or spread. I've used things like candle holders, Champaign or martini glasses and also other foods such as carved out bell peppers, mini pumpkins or loafs of bread depending on their size/shape.
It's even more magnificent when you can use a food item that is associated with the ingredients going inside like a carved out melon filled with fruit or avocado skins filled with guacamole!
Make A Plan
Prior to starting a platter or grazing table build, it's best to begin with a plan. Looking at your list of ingredients, which items should be placed inside a dish of some kind? Decide in advance what container will be used for each dip or spread and then consider where those will need to be in relation to other ingredients that are going onto your platter. If you have things that were intended to be paired or served together, you will need to keep that in mind as you begin placing.
Here are some other thoughts to help you incorporate "vessels" into your design:
- Do you need to add height in order to create visual dimensions? Consider using something like a martini glass or something containing a pedestal to bring the dish up off the table (so long as you don't have to transport it somewhere else).
- Could your dip use a pop of color contrast to help it stand out? Using a colorful or cool colored dish with a neutral or warm colored ingredient can elevate a dip that might otherwise seem dull. Adding a small colorful garnish to that dip can also assist with that effect.
- What utensil will be used to serve the dip, sauce or spread? Make sure that guests won't struggle to fit the serving utensil into the vessel but also ensure it won't get lost inside if someone leaves it in the dip. We have all been to functions where a spoon or knife ended up covered with a sauce and we chose not to use it in order to save our hands from becoming messy or sticky.
One last note about being creative in our exploration of grazing table "vessels": Make sure to always verify that the material you're using is considered food safe. This is important because some decorative household items might seem perfectly fine but might have been treated with a chemical that should not come in contact with food. Many of these items will have a label somewhere on them specifying this but not always.
Galvanized iron for example is not considered to be a good material in containers for storing or serving food because certain acids can interact with the metal resulting in poisoning.
Assuming the material's safety, consider that there are no rules to finding new vessels for your accoutrements. Be creative! It will make the whole design and building process so much more fun if you allow unusual possibilities to exist.
~love in abundance,
Founder @ Grazing Goddess Charcuterie