How To Build A Charcuterie Board and Look Cultured As Shit With Spread & Co.
Partying as an adult is hard. Or should we say, partying as a near-adult. You're beyond the age of straight-to-booze pregames (usually) but don't have the budget for caviar and shrimp cocktails. So what do you serve at a party when you're somewhere in between pre-gaming teenager and mortgage paying adult? What's a gal to do when you're not at the level of white tablecloth dinners with assigned seats (who is?), but you want to give your guests something better than a container of salsa and a bag of Tostino's SCOOPS?
Luckily, Rosemary from SPREAD & CO. has our backs (and our boards). As the founder of the Austin-based cheese + charcuterie-focused catering business, she knows her way around a delicious and gram-worthy offering. In 5 easy steps, she'll have us all wow-ing guests and feeling classy for months to come:
SPREAD & CO.'s 5-STEP CHARCUTERIE
1. MIX IT UP! Don’t discriminate! You want to have a range of different milks, (i.e cow, sheep, goat, water buffalo, maybe a mixed milk cheese) textures, flavor, etc. At SPREAD & CO. , we usually like to use a soft, bloomy-rind cheese, a blue, an approachable cheddar, + a semi-soft cheese.
Some of our favorites :
- Point Reyes Cheese Co.’s Bay Blue – fudgy in texture + earthy and a little sweet.
- Jasper Hill Farm’s Bayley Hazen Blue – made with very high quality whole raw cow’s milk with a toasted nut sweetness.
SEMI SOFT :
- Hook’s 5 Year Cheddar – cheddar is probably one of the most approachable, familiar cheeses for most people. This one is sharp and tangy.
- Upland’s Cheese Co.’s Pleasant Ridge Reserve – This is America’s most awarded cheese! Super creamy, nutty, and very versatile when it comes to pairing
SOFT N BLOOMY :
- Sweet Grass Dairy’s Green Hill – Sweet Grass Dairy is in Georgia, and their Green Hill is a double cream camembert-style cheese. Thin bloomy rind, rich and creamy paste.
2. THINK OUTSIDE THE RIND! Beyond the obvious items (cheese, duh), we also like to add charcuterie, nuts, fresh fruit, jams, mustards, honey, pickles and dehydrated fruits.
Charcuterie–essentially cured meats from different parts of the animal– range widely in tastes and textures, anything from a soft pâtés to a hard salami. We usually like to use salami and proscuitto because they’re both delicious and easy to work with, but I must note that I am a HUGE fan of pâtés, which consist of cooked meat, often times liver, that is blended with fat, wine, herbs and spices, then pureed into a spreadable paste. They are so decadent and wonderful and will definitely add an extra boost of refinement and sophistication to your plate.
Something we get asked all the time is WHAT PAIRS BEST WITH WHAT? It's important to note fresh food will always have the fullest flavors and create the most enjoyable pairings. SPREAD & CO. is unique in the fact we make all of our pickles, jams, mustards + dehydrated fruits from scratch to ensure maximum freshness and happy taste buds. A few simple pairings:
- Cheddar pairs well with tangy notes, like our pickled green beans + house-made whole grain beer mustard
- Blue's intense flavors can be balanced with a sweet jam or honey
- Contrast Semi-soft alpine cheeses with some crunch, like our house-made vanilla bean cajeta (goat’s milk caramel)
- Soft cheeses are super versatile and pair well with just about anything, i.e charcuterie (savory) or jam (sweet).
3. EXPERIMENT! To make things short and simple: don’t be scared! Try out different combinations, because really, there are NO RULES for pairing. If it tastes good to you, then it is! Place things that pair well together in close vicinity on the board, mix up flavors and textures, break up different colors and you’re good to go!
4. DON'T OVERDO IT. How much cheese and charcuterie you should lay out per person? We usually go by ~1.5 oz. and ~0.75 oz. of cheese and charcuterie respectively per person (or about 2 oz. combined). But there are no rules here either, it just depends on how hungry your guests are or if you're serving other food later on!
5. WARM IT UP. Remember, cheese is best served at room temperature! Bring your board out of the fridge about an hour before serving. This way, you'll be sure to get alllllll the good flavors.
Enjoy! And let us know where your charcuterie adventures take you!
ABOUT ROSEMARY and Spread & Co.
Rosemary currently resides in her hometown of Austin, TX where she's lived for the better part of the past 20+ years. She is the owner of Spread & Co., a local cheeseboard focused catering business. All her boards are made with artisan cheese + cured meats found here in the US and the accoutrements are made from scratch in Austin. When asked why she started Spread (a common question she gets) she says it was her passion for food that stemmed from her parents who always involved her in the kitchen when she was young. She loves the idea of putting it all together to make something beautiful + edible!