Summer beckons the return of social dining – whether indoors or out – and there’s perhaps no better way to graze than with a perfectly curated board of meats and cheeses. Though traditional French charcuterie refers exclusively to prepared meats, a charcuterie board has evolved to encompass the cheeses and complementary accoutrements often served with cured cold cuts.
You don’t need to be savvy in the kitchen to tap into the art of charcuterie, and thankfully the East Bay has plenty of specialty shops to help you get started or to assemble the perfect board for you, like Milk & Honey (a former Rhody Gem) in Portsmouth.
“To us, cheese and meats are the featured products, and all other items served should pair with and enhance those products,” shares Milk & Honey co-owner Nina Pease. “We typically suggest three to four cheeses and two to three meats and to adjust amounts of each depending on the size of the party and what course the board will be served with.” A trip to Milk & Honey encourages guests to discover a new favorite in a block of funky gorgonzola or roll of Italian salami, plus custom and cut-to-order charcuterie platters are tailored to any party or budget.
For Jackie Connor of Bellevue Boards, charcuterie is more than an assemblage of snacks. “It’s a delicious masterpiece of perfectly styled cheese and meats with bursts of colorful fruits, intricate designs, and messages of love, celebration, and togetherness,” she says. “They are the life of the party!” At her Newport storefront, find everything from picnic boxes and charcuterie cups to catered boards.
“Shopping at local farmers markets and keeping your eye out for fresh produce will do your charcuterie board wonders,” advises Connor. “Add in some crunch with salted almonds, along with local honey and fresh herbs, and you’re golden! For the finishing touch, include a little something sweet – it may just be my personal preference, but no board is complete without a little chocolate.”
Grapes & Gourmet in Jamestown goes for a maximalist approach in boards of all sizes, along with grazing tables for weddings and events. “I like to naturally let it build and by the end you have this platter piled high with delicious goodies that makes your eye wander around the plate,” says food director Amelia Wilson. “The colors, the textures, the variety – to me it looks like well-orchestrated
and beautiful chaos.”
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