It’s been said a lot and I have to agree: you eat with your eyes first. A five star meal doesn’t stand out as much if you serve it in a fast food way. My mom loves to tell the story of my grandmother’s friend Josephine, who was fond of serving crappy cuts of meat and chicken at dinner parties.
“Josephine made shit, but always put it out on her best china platters and set a nice table, and everyone loved it! Meanwhile your aunt Millie was the best cook, but no one ever commented because she would just dump it from the pan onto a plate.”
Thanks to food blogs and Pinterest, I think people, at least unconsciously, pay more attention to how food looks. So many of my friends have “Entertaining” pin boards, which feature nothing but elegantly arranged cheese boards and cute little appetizer buffets.
So I thought I’d start a series of posts called Presentation, where I’ll highlight easy ways to make your dishes look better. The focus will be on simple tricks, so that you don’t spend as much time arranging as you did cooking. I’ll post whenever I have ideas, and to start, here’s a pretty way to serve the classic Caprese Salad.
Here’s my tips:
- Try using various colored tomatoes. I went with red and yellow heirlooms, but I think adding in Green Zebras would make a big impact too. Use a mix of large tomatoes and small cherry ones too, as the flavor is different, and the visual impact is better.
- When serving large groups, I use Belgioso mozzarella cheese. It comes pre-sliced, which makes life easier, and since you can purchase a double pack in Sam’s Club for around $10, it’s also cost-effective. Of course, if you live near a good Italian deli, get their fresh mutz, or spring for delicious, creamy burrata.
- To assemble, slice your tomatoes about the same size as your cheese. Going around your platter in concentric circles, place a slice of tomato, slice of cheese, slice of basil, over and over till you’ve filled it in. Add some halved cherry tomatoes and torn basil leaves in the center. The platter can be assembled a couple of hours ahead at this point.
- Garnish just before serving- use loads of fresh basil, big pieces of flaky sea salt, and a bright olive oil. My dad buys me fancy balsamic for my birthday each year, so I added a few drops of that as well.