an Insta-Worthy Cheese + Charcuterie Night

an Insta-Worthy Cheese + Charcuterie Night

I love having cheese & charcuterie parties both at home and at work. I’m obsessed with alpine cheeses, even more after we visited Switzerland. When shopping for my charcuterie & cheese board, I always try to visit a cheese counter that has a cheesemonger, that’s the trick. They can help you come up with an entire menu, give you tons of samples, and recommend meats and wine pairings. I also buy all my cured meats unpackaged from the deli counter, freshly sliced. You can also get lots of samples there, too 🙂  I used to have this adorable and incredibly stocked cheese shop in my neighborhood when I lived in San Francisco but now my closest selection is Whole Foods, which is great, too. If you live near SF check out Say Cheese for everything you’ll need, and The Fatted Calf also has some great meats. If you’re planning on being in Carmel CA anytime soon check out The Cheese Shop (they have a monthly cheese club!!) and are worth the trip.

So you’re going to have a charcuterie night! Here are the steps for making it insta-worthy:

  1. Learn yourself some charcuterie board tips and tricks by watching these videos:
  2. Search Yelp! For your local cheese shop, Whole Foods or other specialty market to pick out the very best cheese for your very best friends. Avoid pre-packaged cheese if you can.
  3. Check your cupboards for a cheeseboard or serving platter, although my favorite look is sprawled across a large piece of Kraft paper or unbleached parchment. Look on Pinterest for “Charcuterie Board“! Some of my favorites 1. theeverygirl 2. ohhappyday 3. lajollamom 4. roomfortuesday
  4. Decide how much of everything to buy. If this is going to be your primary meal, allot 250 grams of cheese and 5 ounces of meat per person, total. If this is an appetizer, go for 100 grams of cheese and 2 ounces of meat per person. Grams to Pounds calculator here 😉
  5. Shop till ya’ drop! Buy all your cheese, meats and fixin’s.
    1. Cheese: I like to have 5 types of cheese on my board. A chèvre (goat) is excellent to start with. I love Trader Joe’s Blueberry Vanilla Chèvre  or a herbaceous goat cheese. Next — and I say next because this is the order your guests should try the cheese, light to strong– so next I use a soft white rinded cheese, like camembert, triple creme brie, or something from Cowgirl Creamery.  Then, 2 semi-hard crumbly cheeses (because they are my favorite)  like aged cheddar,  aged white cheddar, gruyere, pecorino, appenzeller, jarlsburg…  If you have a great cheese shop near your place my absolute favorite cheese is Challerhocker. It is divine! Lastly, a blue cheese, it rounds out the board flavor-wise, though I don’t have any recommendations because frankly I fucking hate blue cheese and so I always ask my cheesemonger for a recommendation of what’s on sale. Blue cheese, you don’t deserve me paying full price!
    2. Meats: I’m not as obsessed with the meat selection as I am the cheese. To me, the cheese is the star of the show. I normally pick out 3-4 types of meats, 2 salamis-normally a dry and a fennel, prosciutto, and mini sausages. You could also go for venison if you have access to it.
    3. Fixin’s: Go for seasonal fruits, they’re normally more affordable and will make your board look very seasonal. Think apricots in the spring, stone fruit and grapes in the summer, grapes, honey crisp apples and butternut squash cubes in the fall, oranges, cranberries, and apples in the winter. I like to decorate my board with with whole pieces of the same fruit I’m using on my board, so I buy more than I expect people will eat.  I almost always make some onion jam and buy a whole piece of honeycomb (yummmm)! Add some herbaceous crackers and crusty bread, and you’ve got a killer cheese & charcuterie board. Other fixin’s you might be fixin’ for: olives, tapanades, jellies or jams like raspberry, black currant, or peach, breadsticks, chocolate, almonds, sundried tomatoes, peanuts, cornichons (little pickles), dried fruit, hummus, stuffed mushrooms, pretzels, melon cubes … and so many more. You can find a ton of inspiration on Pinterest!
  6. Arrange in an S curve or a Circle.  An S curve is a popular plating technique where items are arranged in an S pattern for visual interest. Examples: 1.picturecorrect 2. sweetgastronomy 3. cookingwithcocktailrings 4. real simple. I start by sketching out my S curve with my cheeses and bowls of items (like onion jam) then I fill in with fixin’s, meats, and herbs from my garden for more visual interest. With each cheese, I cut a few slices so guests understand how to eat them. For brie,  I cut just a couple wedges and pull them out just a tad from the wheel. For harder cheeses I will make a scrape off a couple shards and set them on top. I then place whole fruit and herbs wherever I have “bald spots”.  If you’re styling your board like a circle, place your cheeses like a clock, moving clock-wise from most mild (at 12 o’clock) to strongest and fill in from there
  7. Take photos! Before anyone has a chance to dip into your beautiful board, open your windows, turn on the lights and get a great shot of your masterpiece! Check out this video on how to take great food photos.

No charcuterie night is complete without wine. If you want to go simple, just grab a couple bottles of Prosecco. If you’re new into wine or only like sweet wines, try Moscato. But — the best wine for the party is always your favorite wine!

Have a wonderful time,

Cheers.

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