A couple of weeks ago I hosted a "Going Away" party for some great friends. I wanted to keep it simple, as this was a last minute thing (I made invites online on Monday and texted them to everyone right away for a Friday night party).
Although perfectly acceptable, I didn't love the idea of asking everyone to bring an appetizer. So instead, I had everyone bring a bottle of wine and I provided the one and only appetizer for our 7pm Wine and Cheese Party. I started searching Pinterest for "Charcuterie Board" and "Cheese Platter". Based on research from a combination of several pinners, here is what I learned:
- You can make your own enormous wood board for about $20. My husband picked me up a 12" x 6' untreated piece of wood at Lowe's for $12. I used a hand sander with 3 different grades of sandpaper to smooth it out and round all the edges before treating the board with several coats of food grade mineral oil (for butcher blocks). I got mine here on amazon.com. I put felt feet on the bottom to prevent sliding or scratching.
- Plan on purchasing about 2-3 meat options. If you are an OC resident, I highly recommend shopping at Mission Ranch Market. They have incredible prices on Boars Head meat! I chose a Peppered Salami, Prosciutto and Beef Salami and had them all sliced as thin as possible. I also got tapenades and olives from their deli counter (and dates, dried apricots, honeycomb and nuts from the store, too).
- Choose a variety of cheeses from soft to hard. 2-3 options is plenty. I selected a brie (soft), Dubliner and Manchego for medium/oily and a Cage Aged Cheddar for a hard cheese.
- Add olives, cornichons, dried fruits (apricots, dates) and nuts (marcona almonds, cashews) and spreads (fig jam, honeycomb, mustard). If figs were in season I would have had them, too.
- For crackers and bread, I chose gluten free Mary's Crackers and thinly sliced and toasted french baguettes.
- Garnish with small bunches of grapes and fresh herbs.
- Overflowing and Abundant is the look you want to achieve.
- A little goes a long way- I suggest about 3 pounds of meat and 4 pounds of cheese, and anticipate spending a minimum of $125 for 24 people.