You Put The “Cute” In Charcuterie!

February 8, 2017

We all know that Christmas is the occasion for entertaining with charcuterie boards. But, we’d like to suggest that Valentine’s Day is an equally ideal time to bring out that board and assemble a romantic date night spread for two.

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To help make your romantic night a success, we’ve put together a little guide for you to use as a starting point. (By no means are you limited to these items.) Feel free to swap our suggestions out for old favourites or something that just caught your eye on our shelves. Use this as a tool to focus your creative shopping efforts, and bring you back to your goal of putting together a simple, gourmet, delectable spread of local food to enjoy with your significant other (or bringing together all of your single friends). And of course, don’t forget the wine or bubbly! If you’re not much for the harder beverages, Phillip’s Fermentorium Tonics will do. 

Tip: A good way to narrow down your selection, and help you to make the tough calls on which items to select, is to choose a theme. For my own board, pictured above, I chose “sweet and savoury, leaning toward chocolates and smoky flavours” to fit in with the Valentine’s Day occasion. My advice is, pick one item you know you must have, and then work your way out from there for pairings. 

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Above: Adjustable Cheese Slicer, Petite Suisse Cheese Knife, A&L Woodcraft Cheese Slicer (made by local Abbotsford company!), and Acacia Cheese Board with yellow accent

Board / Platter / Serving Tray. This can be as fancy or as plain as you really want it to be – feel free to dress it up with a marble slab or dress it down with a wooden cutting board, and if you’re really stuck for ideas, we’ve got some great boards in our cheese section! One even has a built in cheese slicer. Once you’ve planned out a charcuterie shopping list, you can give a good guestimate as to the size you’ll be needing. 

Update: Here’s some great DIY ideas, too, if you’d like to recreate a board like the one we used in photos!

Beckham & Belle’s Simple Pallette Serving Tray

Chalkboard Serving Tray, to Label All Your Ingredients

DIY Wooden Stained Tray

Be sure to read labels on stains and paints, and follow all directions to ensure the surface is non-toxic before you use it for food!

If you’d rather leave it to the experts, we can recommend Bowyer & Toulson’s Fine Handmade Wood Products. Some of their items are even available at Cobblestone Kitchenware in Abbotsford – be sure to give them a call before heading over.

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Above: Lepp’s Mexican Salami, Lepp’s Honey Ham, Lepp’s German Salami, Lepp’s Hungarian Salami and Lepp’s Herb Liver Pate, with Lepp’s Baguette and Gone Crackers

A Selection of Lepp’s Gourmet Meats.
Portion: 100 – 150 grams of meat per person.
Without a doubt, meat is the star of the show in a charcuterie platter, given that the very definition of charcuterie is “cold cooked meats collectively.” Of course, now we use it to refer to a whole range of foods arranged on a board, complete with cheeses, dips and such. For meat, a good starting point is to select a pate (to spread on crackers), a smoked or cooked deli meat (sliced), and a sausage or salami (cut into rounds). 

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Above: Balderson Double Smoked Cheddar (cubed), Qualicum Tipsy Jill (semi-firm, wine infused marble cheese, hand-crafted from grass-fed cows), and Mt.Lehman’s Goat Cheese with Dusted Cocoa Hearts for Valentine’s Day

Cheeses.
Portion: About 200 grams of cheese per person.

1 hard, 1 softFarmhouse Clothbound Cheddar makes a great choice for a hard cheese,  and I’d suggest a Brie or camambert for the soft. For two people, two is often enough – but if you and your significant other are avid cheese-lovers, feel free to add some more!

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Above: Cara Cara Oranges, BC Grown Red Anjou Pears, Medjool Dates and red seedless grapes.
When we created this Valentine’s Day Charcuterie board for photos, we found a good flavour combination was the sliced Anjou pear, smeared with Dalmatia Original Fig Spread, topped with a pitted medjool date and a pecan. Another fantastic combination – a bite of Hammond’s Brittle Crisps (Dark Chocolate Drizzle), followed by a bite into a Cara Cara orange to cut the sweetness.

Fruit.
Portion: 4-5oz per person

Of course in season, local is always best! You just can’t beat the full flavours of fruit that’s been picked the same day, or day before. For Valentine’s Day, it’s a bit tougher, though not impossible, to add some local love to your charcuterie. Local Abbotsford grown kiwis, BC grown pears, and BC Apples make good additions to the board. Otherwise, grapes, melons and strawberries offset the meats and cheeses very well – and a slice of citrus (Cara Cara oranges look great for Valentine’s Day!) cuts through the overly sweet chocolates and jams you may add. Which brings us to….

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Above: Hammond’s Brittle Crisps (Dark Chocolate Drizzle), Pecans and Medjool Dates

Nuts, Dried Fruit & Chocolate.
Portion: About a handful of each, I know, not the most exact measurement.  Add more or less as your heart desires.

I recommend choosing one of each, and if you’re looking for a way to really dress up the platter than try your hand at baking some candied nuts. Pecans, Figs and Medjool Dates are great for a sweet charcuterie, whereas Local Hazelnuts, Almonds and dried mango or dried apricots (not the candied stuff) work well for a more dinner-like approach. 

It should be noted, that using medjool dates will provide plenty of opportunity to make terribly cheesy puns about your date as you enjoy your platter.

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Above: Dalmatia Fig Spread, in it’s original jar sat on the sweet side of the board amongst the cheeses.

Jellies, Jams, Relishes & Honey.
Portion:
About 80 grams per person.

If you’re creating a board for two, you really only need one jam. That being said, slicing raw honey onto a baguette with a slice of smoked Gouda and topping it off with some spicy hellish relish or red pepper jelly wouldn’t hurt at all. Have a bacon & beer lover in your life? Refer back to our bacon jam recipe

Oils, Balsamics and Pickled Vegetables.
Portion: Pickled Vegetables would be 4-5oz per person, oils and balsamics are just enough to drizzle.

A quality balsamic (like John Greek) is a wonderful addition to drizzle over a pate, or a mild cheese. A wonderful DIY-addition would be some caramelized beets, for a deep earthy flavour with just a hint of sweet. For some added beauty, opt for the candy-cane beets for their bright pink colour. We also have many Local Pickled Beets, Pickled Asparagus and Pickled Cauliflower ready to go right by our cheese section in the market.

If you’re looking to create a dessert-like platter, you can skip this category.

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Above: Lepp’s Baguette, GrissinBon Sesame Breadsticks,  and Gone Crackers (Undressed)

Breads & Crackers.
Portion: Half a baguette for two people, and half a box of crackers.

Lepp’s baguette is a must if you’ve chosen anything with an overly runny consistency – don’t let one drop of goodness get away when you soak it up with this bread. Not to mention it goes great with pate. Some favourite crackers that offer some great crunch without an overbearing flavour are Artisan Bakery, Gone Crackers (undressed flavour) and Raincoast Crisps. Sesame breadsticks can double as a way to scoop jams out onto other items.

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So now, our hope is that you feel that much more equipped and inspired to compile your very own romantic charcuterie board this Valentine’s Day, for a cozy date night inside by candlelight. It should be noted, that the photos we took for this article were not professionally staged, and so we have all the confidence that just about anyone can use this advice to make a stunning platter.

Have fun, and get creative tasting all the combinations of textures and flavours you find – and don’t be afraid to try something new. You just might be pleasantly surprised, or at the very least, you and your loved one will have something good to laugh about together. Because good food and good laughter are always better when shared.