Often times when we are asked to bring something to a party we offer up the appetizing portion and create a stunning charcuterie and cheese board (using an extra large wooden cutting board) outfitted with predominately (if not solely) store-bought goods. It is so easy and satisfying and the elements of a good selection speak for themselves. Here is what we have learned:
Meats: Dry-cured meat is a must, common choices include proscuitto, salami, soppressata, Saucisson sec, or chorizo. You could also include a pate (we like the rustic de campagne) or a terrine. Small specialty shops or farmers markets are a good place for sourcing.
Something Acidic: This is to compensate for the richness of the meat. Cornichons or olives are a good choice.
Cheese: Artisanal sheep and/or goat cheeses, blue Stilton, aged cheddar or Manchego.
Fresh-baked Baguette: Sliced thinly, we prefer it over crackers.
Dried, Fresh Fruit and Nuts: Select these items to compliment the cheese. Honey sweet fruits such as dates or figs are can be perfect, but do not serve juicy, sugary fruits such as peaches, berries, nectarines, or melons which tend to dominate or clash. For nuts, Marcona almonds are a favorite.
How to Choose: While variety and quantity are fun, keep it simple. It is meant to be a balanced, pretty and satisfying platter of flavors and textures.
Ideas for Good Combinations: salami, walnuts, figs (or fig relish) and Manchego…..proscuitto, soppressata, olives and a sheep’s milk cheese….. pate, Saucisson sec, cornichons and Camembert