Unexpected guests. Impromptu happy hour. Impulsive date night.
We've all been in those moments where wine and beer may be easy to grab and serve but having items to create a charcuterie and cheese boards aren't within reach. We talked with some foodie experts about items to consider having on hand, to craft your own in a matter of minutes.
Ilana Chamelly | Martha's Vineyard
"It can be whatever you want it to be. It can be fancy or basic salami and cheddar cheese. I think people think it's super-high-end or super intimidating to produce at home, but it doesn't have to be. I always like to have classics or something basic that everyone can enjoy. Also, if you're trying to pair with beer or wine, you want it all to come together nicely. Another good tip: Slice some of the cheese ahead of time, so your guests get an idea of what part of the cheese they can eat."
Ilana always has a board that features a traditional brie and aged cheddar along with the meats. She also suggests adding what may be in your fridge, such as fruits or even radishes to act as a palate cleanser. You can add nuts, honey and jams. She also likes to add chocolates to the board.
Amy Ruis | Aperitivo
"It used to be we were all 'West Michigan safe'—where cheese boards would feature cheddar, maybe gouda because we're Dutch around here. Now, it has changed to 'Let's try new things!' I think the bar at Aperitivo and cheesemongers at the front counter have opened people's eyes. Presentation is also important. It's a way to say, 'I worked to make this for you and now I can sit down and enjoy it with you.' Entertaining doesn't have to be difficult."
Amy enjoys creating balance, using three cheeses and two meats. She filled her board with a semi-soft cheese, a French brie, and parmesan along with the meats, then added olives, pickles, whole garlic cloves, raisins, Spanish peppers, Peruvian peppers, spicy mustard, and a tart jam.
Heather Zinn | The Grand Rapids Cheese Lady
"When you have a charcuterie board that is full, beautiful and well-rounded, you really don't need to prepare a meal. It is really its own meal. I think people are becoming more adventurous with their eating habits. They want to eat at home more, but also want to have the fancy experience of dining out."
Heather created a charcuterie and cheese board for roughly six to eight people, using a quarter pound each of a manchego, blue cheese, extra-aged gouda and a gruyere-style cheese. She added prosciutto, pear jam, marcona almonds, honey and hearts of palm.
Still too timid to attempt to DIY for your charcuterie and cheese boards? All three businesses featured here note that you could always call ahead of time, to have them do the work for you!
Written by Jennifer A. Pascua, Digital Content Strategy Manager for West Michigan Woman.
Photo courtesy of Martha's Vineyard.