Ah the season of love, Valentine's Day. We love a good date night - Champagne, cocktails, good food, and time spent with loved ones is hard to beat; but after a busy weekend in Las Vegas for work - and play - we are desperately in need of a little low key relaxation at home. We had so much fun at the Fancy Food Show, we learned so much, met countless incredible people, and tasted some of the most exceptional gourmet foods on the market. It was like nothing we could have ever imagined!
Hundreds of gourmet food venders from across the globe stretched out over what felt like miles of booths with classics like cheese - always our favorite - to odd unique drinks and mixers, and the best white truffle olive oil we have ever experienced. However, it is safe to say that after days of walking and munching our way through Vegas we are now home and far too tired to figure out date night, but we still want to spoil ourselves and our sweeties with an incredible spread none the less.
So what do we do when we have 4 days worth of good food and inspiration swirling around in our heads? Well, we bring some of that inspiration to you of course! We are sharing our tips for putting together a beautiful, gourmet cheese board so that you too can create a winning spread every time!
3 Cheese, 2 Meat, 1 Salty, 1 Sweet,
Textures Soft & Hard, and Something Fun For a Treat.
Yes, it really is that easy! And while you can absolutely make a simple spread with a single meat and cheese, we love doing smaller quantities with bigger variety to make the meal more fun and help your date night at home free like a high-end dinner out on the town.
So repeat after me - 3 Cheese, 2 Meat, 1 Salty, 1 Sweet, Textures Soft & Hard, and Something Fun For a Treat - this little rhyme is the perfect place to start your board.
Cheese + Meat
The cheese and meat make up the bulk of your board, and should range in texture, taste and in style. We always suggest a soft to semi soft, medium-hard, and semi-hard to hard cheese - like brie or goat (soft ), gruyère or gouda (medium), and an aged cheddar (semi-hard). While there are numerous cheeses to pick from, texture is a great and easy place to start. From here you can start to play with the taste or "funk" of the cheese. If you would like a classic cheese that is sure to be gobbled up, try a whiskey or stout aged cheddar from Ireland, it is smooth and creamy as well as a more flavorful take on classic cheddar.
Same with meat, selecting different varieties and textures will balance your board, make it interesting and ensure everyone has something to love. Things to consider when making your selection: is the meat fatty or dry, does it have large pieces of herbs or peppercorns, is it best sliced paper thin or is a thicker slice preferred? Our favorites include rich soppressata, classic Italian prosciutto, dry coppa/capicola, and intensely flavored salami, though we always suggest you add your favorite to the board!
Not sure where to start or end with your meats and cheeses? Head to a local delicatessen and leave it up to the professionals. Already know what you want? Consider hitting up your local grocery store, you can find surprisingly great, quality products now at most cheese and deli counters!
1 Salty + 1 Sweet
The balance of salty and sweet is well known, but adding this dynamic to your cheeseboard will add range and give your guests a break between bites of rich and heavy meats and cheeses. Your salty selection should pack a punch to break through the fat. Olives and nuts are great, but consider something like a pickled onion or spicy pickled pepper. For sweet, we love fruited chocolate, but something as simple as honeycomb is a great option too.
Textures Soft & Hard
We have mentioned the contrast of texture a few times by now, but we always try to balance each element with a complimentary pairing and this includes texture. For soft, consider a jam, dried fruit or compote for something spreadable. Having something sweet and spreadable allows guests the opportunity to temper strong cheeses or intense meats to their preference.
Something hard should go without saying. Bring some kind of bread or cracker to the table. Our artisanal crackers are a perfect balance of delicate crunch with salty, flakey goodness, but if you prefer something with a little more bite then consider a crostini, a baguette thinly sliced, drizzled in olive oil, sprinkled with salt, and baked until crisp.
And Finally... Something Fun For a Treat!
This is your chance to have fun and go a little wild! Look for something that will catch people by surprise - maybe a seasonal dip or sauce. Maybe something homemade like our fast and simple Roasted Root Vegetables or bacon wrapped dates. This unique element can be a chance to have fun and bring something exciting to the table, expand your palette and pick something out of your comfort zone, you may find that you love it!
And of course it should go without saying, but always adorn your board with seasonal fruits to add a touch of color and freshness. Almost any fruit will do but we love berries and citrus for their unique flavors and balance. Ensure you rinse and cut your fruit into bite size pieces. An entire orange slice is beautiful but far too big for a single bite and you don't want your guests to have to "work for it". Fruit that is meant to be eaten by hand can be left whole so it is easy to pick up, and fruit for garnishing should be sliced paper thin so it can be delicately layered on top of the perfect bite.
Who is Coming to Dinner?
It seems so simple and yet sometimes we forget to think about who is actually coming to dinner. Is it just you and your love, or perhaps a double date? Take a moment to consider who will be joining you, and what do they love, or hate? Taking a few moments to consider what your date really loves is the perfect way to say, "I love you and I am thinking of you".
Maybe they absolutely love fruit, or maybe they hate olives. Take a moment to be considerate of what would make them feel loved and appreciated. BONUS - Don't forget about self-love and grab your favorite items as well!
Whether you are doing a girls night, an evening with your bae, or perhaps a relaxing night alone, this is our quick and easy way to help build a perfect charcuterie board, every time!