It’s the holidays, so it’s time to revamp your appetizer presentation. We all love cheese, right? No, I’m not just talking cheese and crackers nonchalantly thrown onto a fancier plate. What I love about cheese and charcuterie boards—when done correctly—is that there’s something for everyone. From the nuts and fruit to the knobs of cheese and specialty meats, this bountiful platter will please any crowd and provide a nice stepping stone before the main course arrives.

Perhaps the best thing about this stunner of an appetizer is that it can be as expensive as you’d like. Cheese and charcuterie boards should have savory, sweet and crunchy components. Much of what you see on the board I already had on hand like nuts, jam, dried cherries, crackers, a wedge of brie and apples. Otherwise, I purchased items as needed from the deli department and an olive bar which allowed me to choose how much I wanted instead of buying entire packages.

Now, don’t be fooled by this snazzy spectacle! Simply visit your cupboard, pair what you have on hand with cheeses and meats, arrange aesthetically on a board or decorative plate and you’re ready to entertain in style. Don’t forget to add pops of color—like bright jams or olives—to avoid an all-beige palette. As a rule of thumb, cheese often pairs with fruit, nuts or spoonfuls of something sweet like honey or fig jam—like I did—while meats pair with savory components like olives or cornichons.

When it comes down to it, you’ll find your favorite combination, and it won’t matter what order you choose to prod at the board. Just seal the deal with a cracker or baguette slice, and uncork your favorite Virginia vino! A crisp Chardonnay Reserve from Jefferson Vineyards should do the trick.

Here’s the anatomy of my cheese and charcuterie board:

Cooked Capicola, Salame Felino and Principe Classic Prosciutto from Whole Foods

Soft Blue Castello, Double Cream Brie and 1000 Day Gouda from Trader Joe’s
Tete de Moine by Emmi (strong, spicy) and Piave Vecchio (slightly sweet, nutty) from Whole Foods

Cornichons purchased in a jar at Whole Foods
Mixed olives from the olive bar at Whole Foods
Walnuts purchased in bulk

Dried bing cherries purchased in bulk
Fresh fruit: plums from Whole Foods and an apple from an orchard
Fig jam from Whole Foods

For extra munching
Freshly baked wheat baguette from Whole Foods
Crackers: variety pack from Trader Joe’s

By Anne Leonard

Written By

Anne Leonard