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I feel I have to make a disclaimer for this ode to The Australia Issue cocktail. We know, we know, there are claims the iconic pavlova isn’t *gasp* even Australian. But let’s be real, what is Christmas day without one? What is any major Australian celebration without a pav? So of course, we needed to turn this Australian (claimed) icon into a cocktail!

We started with a fruity base for this one, and we ended up down the creamy path. Because for us, there is nothing better than a pavlova topped with cream and oodles of fruit. A little strawberry, a little passionfruit (a must for this cocktail – it creates that tart, sourness that cuts through the sweetness) garnish to honour that fruit-filled topping and Bob’s your uncle!!

Ingredients 

  • 30ml cream
  • 10ml Creme De Cacao
  • 5ml Strawberry liqueur
  • 10ml Apricot Liqueur
  • 10 ml passionfruit pulp
  • One fresh strawberry chopped into small pieces
  • Meringue to garnish
  • Ice

Method

  1. In a cocktail shaker, add ice
  2. Add cream, creme de cacao, strawberry liqueur, apricot liqueur and shake well until combined and cold.
  3. In your glass, strain the cocktail
  4. Add chopped strawberry and 20ml of passionfruit pulp and stir well
  5. Garnish with crumbled meringue.

There’s no doubt grazing tables have become the bee’s knees in the last few years and it’s with good reason. It’s a fabulous way to serve up some delicious food without the formal fuss of a sit down dinner or canapés (which we think can be a little old school). Guests can pick at their leisure and it ensures a casual, easy event experience everyone will love.

In the spirit of Australian culture, and representing our Indigenous people, we pay tribute to them by using native foods and décor that really rocks peoples radishes. If you’re not sure how to put together a grazing table in the first place, and levelling up to native ingredients seems daunting, no worries! We’ve detailed our favourite ingredients below and included some quick steps for you to get your own tables rocking and rolling:

Myrtle and pepper berry cured trout
Using native berries and spices are a great way to help bring pay homage to Australian roots on your table. In this case, we used it in the cure for a cured trout. This option also adds a more substantial dimension to the grazing table, which works well if you are having it on its own.

To make it:

  • Add crushed up myrtil and pepper berries to a regular salt-sugar cure (1:1 ratio)
  • Fully cover trout and place in the fridge overnight
  • Wash off cure thoroughly and thinly slice
  • Arrange on a platter and add to your grazing table setting

Dried native florals and greenery
Fresh native florals from the markets are such a beautiful thing – but – foraged and dried are better and cheaper! And the real beauty of it is that you can reuse them as many times as you want. To set them up on a table, we usually like to have one or two big clusters and then some smaller pieces to scatter around and fill in the gaps.

To dry them you can choose between two methods:
Leave them out in the sun for a couple of days with no water. Place in the oven at 50 degrees for around 30 min. Keep an eye on them, as more delicate ones can dry out quicker.
Note: this will work best with flowers and greenery that are more on the woody/sturdy side.

Roosciutto on paper bark
Kangaroo meat is a delicious way to incorporate some exclusively Australian produce into your grazing. It does have a stronger profile than your typical pork prosciutto, so just be conscious of your audience. We recommend buying it directly from your favourite Deli, instead of trying to make your own which can be a bit tricky.


Paper bark from native trees looks absolutely beautiful on the table, and you can use it as a platter for pretty much anything. Make sure you use a material between that is food grade to act as a surface between the food and the bark itself. For example, on the trout we used the fish skin. You can also use things like beeswax wraps or banana leaves.

Finger limes and kumquats
Here are two amazing fruits that you can have so much fun playing with. We like to think of finger limes as fruity-citrusy caviar, which you can add to anything that you’d squeeze some lime or lemon over – like on your charcuterie, which is usually white, fatty and rich. Just cut them in half and place them on the grazing table so people can squeeze them like little caviar tubes and get some of those citrus pearls on their bites.

For the kumquats, a good way to incorporate them is to make a quick compote. Your guests can then spread it as a chunky paste on their soft cheese + lavosh combo – argghhhh so yum!

There are loads of recipes online for kumquat compote, but if you don’t want to get too fussy, here’s a quick one:

  • Slice 500g of kumquats in half and remove the seeds
  • Place in a cold pan and cover with water
  • Add 200g of sugar and 1 cinnamon stick
  • On low heat, bring to a simmer and cook for about 30min, until it gets syrupy and the fruit is soft
  • Transfer to a glass jar and let cool down completely
  • Keep in the fridge for up to a week

Now, here are a few quick steps to set up a grazing table:

Heights:

First things first, start by adding some boxes and stands with different heights to create a more interesting landscape. Otherwise, the grazing table will look flat and lose texture. If you don’t have any boxes or stands, you can always flip a large bowl upside-down and use that as a stand. Or even cake tiers. Or potholders. Or milk crates. You see where we are going with this – the possibilities are endless!

Boards:

Next we like to lay down the boards, platters, bowls and jars on top and around the boxes. Remember, you don’t have to be so strict about keeping the food concealed within the board scape. We love some purposeful food spills onto the table itself for some dramatic effect.

Food:

Don’t overthink it. We like to be driven by colour and function: make little pockets of colour in and around the produce (it looks better than having everything completely scattered). If you have a soft cheese which calls for lavosh or crackers, make sure they’re close together. Same goes for veggies and dips.

Florals:

This step can make or break a grazing table. Like we’ve mentioned before, we like to work with one or two arrangements, and then some smaller bundles in and around to fill in the gaps.

Ms Zebra Says: Who doesn’t love a grazing table?! Filled with deliciousness that you can pick at to your hearts content! Thanks for this wonderful instruction to include amazing Australian fare. 

Dan The Man Cooking are an ideas-driven event catering company turning local, seasonal, and lesser-known produce into dishes that feed your heart and rock your radishes. They create deliciously bold food, all whilst encompassing a zero waste mindset; taking responsibility for the resources they use. They are the only caterer in Australia that is B Corp certified, and they have an in-house eco-ethical event planner, making them the only stop for those planning an occasion with purpose.

Happily for us, Loft Byron Bay has just released their seasonal, new cocktail menu for spring. And they’re generously sharing one of their creations – the ‘Night Blossom’ – with us today! This drink recipe is bursting with the most evocative flavours of spring; from delicate flowers, to bursting berries, to spritzy citrus. Plus, they’ve thrown just a hint of chocolate in for good measure (that’s welcome at any time of year).

If a seaside terrace seems like your guests’ kind of place for pre, post or actual nuptial festivities, Loft Byron Bay might be the cocktail wedding venue for you. There are five distinct areas to choose from here, in addition to booking the whole venue exclusively, to cater to 20-200 friends. All are flooded with natural light and dressed in luxurious coastal style. Let’s drink to that!

Night Blossom by Loft Byron Bay

  • 40ml cherry blossom infused Brookies Dry Gin (see note)
  • 20ml homemade raspberry cordial
  • 3 dashes of chocolate bitters
  • 10ml lemon juice
  • 15ml aquafaba (the liquid from canned chickpeas)
  • Edible flower of your choice, the garnish

Place all ingredients, aside from garnish, in a cocktail shaker. Dry shake (without ice) vigorously until frothy. Add ice and shake again briefly to chill. Pour into a short tumbler. Then, float your favourite bloom on top.

Note: to flavour gin, add a handful of fresh, clean cherry blossoms (pink ones are apparently stronger) to your gin for a few days, tasting every so often until you’re happy with the strength. Fine strain before use.

About Ms Fleur De Lys: Aside from being Ms Polka’s Editorial Assistant, Ms Fleur de Lys is also Polka Dot Bride’s Melbourne correspondent so you’ll see her running all over town finding wedding inspiration. As both a lifestyle journalist and cocktail aficionado, Fleur appreciates the power of words whipped up as deftly as a good martini.