When it comes to catering, buffet tables are out and grazing tables are in. The folks at Cookes Food should know – they’ve been in the catering biz for almost a decade, celebrating their tenth birthday this month. They attribute their success to their bespoke menus and consultation process: they get to know each client's individual tastes to create a personalised grazing table.
We spoke to Cookes Food co-founder Sophie Storen (née Cookes) to get some insider tips on where and what to buy to create the ultimate grazing table.
Charcuterie is a must for any respectable grazing board. Drop into Donati’s Carlton for tasty charcuterie in a store that looks like an art gallery for meat – there’s an abstract oil painting of a pig’s head, a library of books on Carlton, old-school butcher’s blocks and polished marble benches.
"Leo Donati is a legend. He has fantastic charcuterie and his leg hams are the best in the business."
For fancy grazing board essentials check out Casa Iberica. They've been in business since 1975 selling products from Portugal, Spain and Latin America. This is where you go to get your hands on delicious imported goodies like bacalhau (dried salted cod), chorizo and authentic Portuguese custard tarts.
"Casa Iberica has some great treasures like cheese, dried chipotle and delicious Portuguese tartlets."
Soft, hard, mild or funky, there's nothing that ties together a grazing board like cheese. At La Latteria, former chef Kirsty and cheesemonger Giorgio have been stirring vats of curd and stretching mozzarella every day for six years. Drop into their no-frills Carlton shop, team their voluptuous fior di latte with basil and good tomatoes, and you’ll be transported to Capri.
"In my opinion La Latteria has the best mozzarella in Melbourne and their ricotta thimbles are unbelievable with roasted quinces."
An easy way to enhance any grazing board is with some fresh seafood. Claringbolds have been hawking fresh fish in Melbourne for more than 100 years. The team stock seafood including coral trout, barramundi, Coffin Bay oysters, Atlantic salmon and yellow-fin tuna.
"I prefer Claringbolds in the Prahran market. They are knowledgeable and can guide you with cooking times and methods."
For something sweet, visit Lune. Created in a climate-controlled lab, Lune croissants are almost mathematically perfect: crisp and golden with visible layers of delicate pastry. Lines snake out of the store nearly every day they're open, and their pastries often fly out of the shop by noon.
"When it comes to pastries Lune wins hands down. Even their Instagram is drool-worthy."
Treat your guests to some A-grade sourdough bread. Woodfrog Bakery specialises in uncompromised, naturally leavened sourdough breads born out of a seven-year-old sourdough mother. They've got several stores open throughout Melbourne's east and southeastern suburbs, as well as in the CBD.
"Woodfrog Bakery is the absolute best. I love strong sourdough and this is the best with shakshuka, or on its own with butter and salt."