Once upon a time, on a cold January evening, a girl named Alyse came across a photo on Instagram of a grazing board. Being a lover of cheese, charcuterie, succulent fruits and all types of carbohydrates - she was immediately intrigued. After browsing through roughly 10,000 photos of grazing boards it was determined - she needed to make one. But when!? Can one simply whip a grazing board up with no one to share it with!?! Nay. She needed an occasion. It was decided then and there that for her birthday in April (an agonizing 4 months away!) she would soothe the pain of turning 28 by creating not one - but TWO - epic grazing boards, and invite all her friends over to share it with her. The rest, as they say, is history.

Great story right!? You can all call me Alyse Hemingway from now on.

In all serious, this is one of my favorite creations to date. Fun to make and fairly easy (albeit slightly stressful when you're feeding 20 people) and perfect for a variety of occasions.

A traditional grazing board is essentially a glorified mixture of a cheeseboard, charcuterie board, and fruit platter. One of my more intellectual friends described it as "a cheeseboard on crack." My first board (pictured above) had all the typical foods associated with those type of nibbles - cheese (5 types, may have gone a bit OTT), various sliced meats, various crackers, smoked salmon, bell pepper, pretzels, hummus, honey (lavender infused because I am extra AF sometimes),  strawberry jam, fresh bread, sliced apples, grapefruit, grapes, assorted berries and clementines. Oh, and deviled eggs with bacon and radish, courtesy of my friend Lucy (queen of my life).

The idea behind a traditional grazing board is that you have little free space on the table, and no space in between each food item. Every inch of the table should be covered either by beautifully curated and laid out food, or by garnishes - rosemary, thyme, parsley, and edible flowers are winners in my book. They're not only a nice edition to the table from a culinary perspective, but they easily fill up awkward spaces and look beautiful while doing it.

Now, for the second board....we decided to go a little untraditional. I mean, traditional grazing boards are wonderful but are generally considered appetizers. So I decided my dining room table would be a HUGE, ultimate grazing board filled with both main dishes and desserts - but generally sticking with small bites and finger foods (minus the cake - every birthday party needs cake!)

Behold! My table of wonder!

The dinner menu:

Lasagne bites
Tortellini with sun-dried tomato
Mini chicken pot pies
Mac and cheese bites
Basil and parmesan meatballs
Two types of pizza (spicy chicken & veggie)

The dessert menu: 

CAKE. That I custom ordered and paid entirely too much for hehe.
Whiskey pecan brie with apple dippers
THREE different types of homemade cookies (funfetti, chocolate chip and toffee)
Apple pie biscuits
Cookie butter brownie bites
Ginger snaps
Homemade brown butter rice krispies

Are you drooling yet? 

It was truly the spread of dreams, and I couldn't have done it without my friend Lucy. SERIOUS shout outs to her. She HOME FRICKIN' MADE 90% of this food (I quite literally made nothing, I am sad and useless) and it was ALL mind-blowing good. I'm very obsessed with her and I know she's going to read this so HI Lucy, thank you a million times infinity - I LOVE YOU!

Now, as you can see - filling up all the space on this table was rather difficult. We did not succeed in doing so on the main table as well as we did on the appetizer table. However, I feel this flaw was unnoticed due to the adorableness that was the garnishes. Not only did we garnish with extra flowers, greens and fruits, but all of the bites were served with the CUTEST skewers ever (also courtesy of Lucy...seriously I do not deserve her). Please notice the unicorns in the photo above, and the hearts in the photo below!

And the palm print plates (also courtesy of Lucy lol I don't know why she is friends with me)


Also, shout outs to my friend Maddie for making this brie! (One of two things on the table Lucy didn't make haha!) 

Besides Lucy and Maddie I need to give shout outs to my friends Molly and Hayley who helped me orchestrate and design the tables, my friend Katie who is the BEST mixologist ever (she made the rum punch pictured above AND champagne jello shots!) and my flatmates Joey (aka bae) and Hugh for letting me yell at them while they help blow up balloons and put up decorations. It takes a village to throw a party but ultimately myself and my village-people were VERY happy with the results!