Tuesday, 18 June 2013


Summer dining is just the best. It’s so easy and carefree; everything just feels more relaxed. I mean, how could it be stressful, really? You jam a glass of wine or beer in someone’s hand, invite them to your outdoor living space, and fire up the grill. Nothing could be easier.

Except, of course, not grilling. Or cooking anything. This is somewhat like the infamous “Late Night Bacon” recipe from Rachel Ray, but here’s a secret: sometimes it’s okay to just have various snacks and call it a meal. If you’re into local breweries and scarves, you might just be inclined to call it “charcuterie”. You go to a number of different lengths with this if you’re entertaining, but it’s also a nice option for a meal just for yourself.

Here are the basics: meat, cheese, bread, some kind of jelly/dip, and a fruit or veg. In these photos, you can see I opted for prosciutto (because when do I not opt for prosciutto?), a nice topped goat cheese, and cornichons with Dijon. Believe it or not, that was only for me to eat (and okay, I didn’t eat ALL that cheese in one sitting). If you have a number of guests coming, maybe you would want to expand those options. For example, if you feel fraudulent for not actually cooking anything, why not make your own pâté? In Ottawa, where I live, we have this fantastic bakery, Art-Is-In, and they make this awesome olive loaf, which I highly recommend. You can tell they are serious because they call themselves a “boulangerie,” so it’s for sere, because it’s French.

I have seen various recommendations about serving charcuterie and basically the suggestion is two meats and three cheeses, plus your serving vehicle (olive loaf, peut-être), and then some little bits to go with, like olives, pickles, grapes or whatever. I like a sweet jelly (I’m hoping to eventually put a nasturtium jelly recipe in here) and then a spicy/salty spread like Dijon as well.

The showiness here is in the serving. Put it on some super rustic platter, or an ultra-modern one, and spend a little time in the arrangement. Maybe you’re doing a wine and cheese pairing party, in which case you would want to do some lovely little labels to show people what to pair. I’m totally into the chalkboard aesthetic these days, so I would be inclined to get some of those sticky chalkboard decals and put them on the table so you can spend a little time on designing that. Maybe you’re super crafty, and you are actually going to make a platter with chalkboard painted areas right on it. In serving your charcuterie, I can say that Pinterest is your friend for sure.

Like a summer’s eve, charcuterie is ripe with possibilities. All it needs is a little time from you, maybe a trip to your local cheesemonger, and all that creativity your day job sucks out of you. Have a lovely evening… and invite me over for some cheese and wine some time!

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