Charlotte R - June 2022

Charlotte's Charcuteries

char·cu·te·rie

The term “charcuterie” refers to “cooked, processed, or cured cold meats,” but if you’re like me, the word means so much more. When I hear charcuterie, I visualize a glamorous smorgasbord of gourmet foods...cheese, crackers, dried fruit, fresh fruit, jam, nuts, vegetables, dips…the list goes on, and is only limited by your imagination.

While there are few rules when it comes to food & cooking, I’m a firm believer that all meals are better if they’re prepared with love and beautiful ingredients. You can prepare a charcuterie board almost entirely in advance, allowing you to spend more time with your guests, and less time in the kitchen preparing a hot dish.

Whether you’re already a charcuterie lover, or you’ve never put a board together, I hope this post inspires you to open a bottle of wine, gather dear friends, and enjoy delicious food together this summer.

the essentials

I’ve made charcuterie boards for bridal showers, Valentine’s Day dates, casual evenings with my girlfriends, family game nights, and New Year’s Eve parties, just to name some possible occasions!

All you need to get started is a serving board, small serving knives & forks, and your favorite snacks. You’ll want to use a board that fits the size of your party—I’ll use something small if I’m setting out snacks for a date night with my husband, or a massive board if I’m serving a crowd.

My favorite boards are made out of wood or marble, like this one made out of mango wood. You can also use large platters, like this Rectangular Ruffle Platter. You don’t need to use fancy cheese knives, but if you’ve got them, use them! I’m also loving this Olivewood Spreader—it’s perfect for soft cheeses and jam.

shop local, shop seasonal 

I usually start simple…2-3 types of cheese, prosciutto, fresh fruit, crackers, and a spread, like jam, pepper jelly or honey. From there, depending on the event and season, I love to add pickles, olives, nuts, dark chocolate, or anything else exciting I find in my pantry.

When I’m picking cheeses, I like to have a variety of colors and textures. Sharp cheddar, Gouda, Goat Cheese, Parmesan and Brie are some of my favorites. The mix of soft, semi soft & firm cheeses are perfect. If you have access to a local cheese shop, I highly recommend shopping there! In Chattanooga, I love visiting Bleu Fox Cheese Shop. They’ll help you pick cheeses that compliment each other, and will offer samples & tons of knowledge! Whole Foods also has great variety in their cheese section. I love their “odds & ends” bin with small chunks of cheese. It’s so fun to pick out 4-5 little pieces of cheese that I’ve never tried before, most under $5!

For purchasing your meats, I’d recommend Main Street Meats. It’s a wonderful local restaurant, but is also a butchers shop where you can purchase cured meats…added bonus, you can walk from Bleu Fox straight across the street to get your meat from Main Street Meats, and then walk next door to Niedlov’s for a crusty loaf of bread. Just 3 of the many great food spots on the Southside of town, all in one block!

It goes without saying that Sophie’s is one the best places to shop in Chattanooga. In addition to carrying kitchen serving dishes and utensils, we also have some fantastic gourmet foods that are perfect for charcuterie boards. Here are my current favorites, all pictured below:

  • Bumbleberry Farms: I love all of their products that I’ve tried. They’re a small farm in Pennsylvania and use whole, natural & local ingredients. Their Pure Clover Honey is some of the best, and I can’t get enough of their Caramel Pear Cardamom spread
  • Pickled Pink: This is a gourmet food company from Atlanta, GA, and their pickles are delicious. I’m loving the Sweet Gourmet Pickles this summer.
  • The Jam Stand: From Brooklyn, NY, this company has such fun flavor combinations. Their Fig Tamarind Jam is awesome with Brie, and I’m dying to try the Blueberry Bourbon Jam

Our local Chattanooga Farmers’ Market is another one of my favorite places to shop. If you can, try to shop in season! This week I bought some fresh peaches, cucumbers & okra. There are always vendors selling pickles, home-roasted nuts, and hummus.

Imagine a charcuterie board with fresh peaches, goat cheese, thin sliced salami, honey, dried cherries, dark chocolate, pickled okra, pretzel chips and baguette? I mean, come on! You can’t beat that deliciousness.

If you enjoy drinking wine or cocktails, I highly recommend shopping at Imbibe; my favorite liquor store in town. The staff is very knowledgeable, and if you tell them the kind of food you’re preparing, they’ll find your perfect beverage match. I generally pair wine with my boards, but a light cocktail like a French 75 or Aperol Spritz would be amazing in the summertime.

pro tips

  • Estimate ~2oz cheese per person
  • Include both sweet & savory elements
  • Let cheese warm to room temperature before serving
  • Decorate your board! Adding a few fresh herbs or flowers around your fruit & cheese adds elegance and beauty to your spread
  • Accessorize! I love using cute cocktails napkins, and glassware for any event. It makes you feel special.

in conclusion

As you get more comfortable creating and serving charcuterie boards, I hope you’ll continue to discover more ingredients and styles that you love. Please share some of your favorites in the comments below, and stop into Sophie’s if you ever want to chat about gourmet food with me! I could talk about this all day long…and if you’ll excuse me, writing this has made me crave some fruit & cheese, so I’ve got to go do some shopping. See you next time!

– CR

Our Other Posts