Entertaining …with a side of cheese

“The only reason I work out is to live longer so I can eat more cheese and drink more wine” – Ricky Gervais

DSC_4685Lets chat about one of my favorite foodie set ups… International cheese & meats.

Also known as a charcuterie platter

To me a charcuterie platter is the perfect 1st presentation to start off any party or gathering.  A charcuterie board is one of the top choices for any type of entertaining, and it’s often quite easy to put together. It also just makes for a nice spread for a low-key night with friends.

The question is, How do we create the perfect charcuterie platter?

We are all generally drawn to elegant things, and when guests are presented with a spread that is tempting to the eyes, it can, in fact make it taste that much better. When building a charcuterie board, what you choose to use to serve, believe it or not, plays a really big role in your presentation. Some of my go to must have items are a wooden cutting board, a cheese board, unique cheese knives, a few different size and shape serving trays and a variety of tiny bowls/dishes in all different colors. The rustic stylish look of all of these items will bring out the lively colors of each food item. It will turn your spread into an impressive conversation piece. Presentation is one thing, but another is how you choose to assemble. One thing that’s great is there are no rules to assembling. It’s definitely something you can play around and get creative with and everyone will end up loving it.

Here are some ideas of what you should be including …

Let’s start with the Meats – Everyone has their favorites, so you want to make sure to put out a nice little variety. I mean c’mon who doesn’t love cured meats?! My usual go-to’s are salami, prosciutto,coppa, soppresata and chorizo.meats

Next, you can add, but are not obligated being that it is not everyone’s preference ..Pâté or Terrine (meat paste) – This is known to be a creamy spreadable paste that is simply amazing when spread on a slice of a baguette or a cracker of choice.

Your next is the most important (in my opinion) … the CHEESE!!! You want to offer a wide variety of different types in texture and taste. Since everyone’s desires are different, you should choose the ones that you think would work best with everyone’s palette. I would choose about 10-20, lol just kidding, kind of, I mean if it was appropriate I would probably do one of each, but generally I choose about 4-6 different types. I am a sucker for any type of truffle cheese, to me the flavors just pair extremely well & it enhances the flavors for all others. Some example of different types of cheese to use on your platter would be… cheese

  • Fresh cheese – Fresh Stracciatella, Burrata, Mozzarella
  • Soft cheese – Brie, Camembert, blue-veined cheese like Roquefort and Gorgonzola, Blue cheese, Goat cheese, Toscano
  • Firm cheese – Gouda, French Baby Swiss, Cheddar, Gruyère, Manchego, Monterey Jack, Havarti, Provolone
  • Hard cheese – Parmigiano Reggiano, Asiago, French Raclette, Pecorino Romano

and many more!

Once you have those three statements, it’s time to add in the fun sweet & savory items. These will dress up your presentation and will add many different flavors to pair.

Pickled items – Pickled vegetables tend to go very well with many meats & cheeses. Gherkins and olives are a great addition. You also have the option of marinated artichokes, marinated peppers, pickled onions, pickled green beans or cocktail onions.additives

Spreads – Sweet and savory spreads are a must in my opinion. One of my all time favs is fig jam! You can also add different fruit preserves and honey.

Nuts and Dried Fruits –Whats wonderful about these items is that they are a great palate cleanser. So from switching to several different meats and cheeses, these allow you to get a little cleanse, while enjoying a great taste. Dried mango, apricots, dried prunes, dried dates are lovely. As well as almonds, cashews, pecans, and walnuts.

Fresh Fruits –Now I know we just discussed adding dried fruits to your platter, but also an amazing addition (and very important), fresh fruits. Pairing goat cheese with a slice of pear and drizzle of honey is heaven in a bite. Or wrapping a slice of prosciutto around a fig, OMG another slice of heaven! Some other great items to add to your display are grapes, apples and strawberries.

Bread and Crackers –One of my favorite things to do is make homemade crostinis. A sliced baguette with a little bit of olive oil, garlic salt and Italian seasoning and you’ve got yourself a delicious crunch for your goodies. crostiniI also like have fresh sliced baguette. Other crunch additions could be a wheat cracker & bread sticks. Trader Joe’s makes a wonderful crisp with many choices of flavor (fig & olive being one of my favorites). Definitely something worth checking out!

You want to position the meat & cheese board in the center to make it the focal point. Surround the boards with condiments, accompaniments and breads.

Last but certainly not least, alcohol!Wine, Beer and Cocktails – One of my favorite additions to the charcuterie game. There are many options such as wine, beer & cocktails. I however am strictly a wine drinker and LOVE pairing when given the opportunity! Below is a chart of all the wonderful wine pairings with your charcuterie options! wine pairing circle

This is a great opportunity to introduce friends to your favorite white or red. If you feel like trying something new, take a trip to your wine shop or a local brewery. This spread is not limited to only wines, beer and cocktails work great as well! You can also of course pair with some delicious mocktails, sparkling fruit juices & sparkling flavored waters!
So for all my charcuterie lovers (especially my cheese lovers) I hope you enjoyed & now you have a good excuse to have a get together or party!
Any other meats, cheeses or pairings you want to share, comment below! I’d love to hear your favorites xoxo

cheers to the good life… & cheese!


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