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A Day in the Life: Johnathan James

by Johnathan James | Published May 13, 2020

Charcuterie boards are arguably the best pairing for wine. There are a variety of ingredients, you can rotate what’s included to match seasonal availability, and they’re great finger food for a crowd. And while looking beautiful doesn’t actually affect the taste of your charcuterie, you can’t argue that it doesn’t have some sort of impact. When put together right, charcuterie boards can be both visually appealing AND tasty. I’m going to walk you through how to choose what to include and arrange the items on your board so you can achieve a stunning and delicious charcuterie board to enjoy alongside your next glass of wine.

Step 1: Pick a board to assemble on.

If you already have a board ready and waiting for your charcuterie, AWESOME. If not, a great option is using a cookie sheet. After all, once you’re done assembling the board you won’t be able to see what’s underneath, so don’t stress too much over this choice.

Step 2: Choose 3 cheeses.

We recommend one smelly cheese, one soft cheese, and one hard cheese. If you’re having trouble choosing, don’t hesitate to ask a store clerk for recommendations.  We love picking up cheese at the local farmers’ market. The cheese will be the first item to go on your board. So slice it up, and scatter it in small piles around your board. I recommend adding a couple smaller piles of each cheese to the board instead of one larger pile of each. 

Step 3: Choose a fruit or two.

I love sliced apples and dried apricots. It really is just a personal preference here. Once you’ve made your choice, assemble it similar to the cheeses. Create a couple small piles of each around your board.

Step 4: Choose a nut. 

Marcona almonds are by far my favorite choice. Bonus points if they’re roasted with rosemary and sea salt. If you can’t find marcona almonds, candied pecans or roasted walnuts also pair nicely. Same as with the other pieces, scatter small piles throughout. 

Step 5: Choose a Spread.

The options are endless. Pepper jelly, orange marmalade, strawberry preserves from the farmers’ market. Use what you have on hand or pick something special for the occasion. Then spoon your spread into a small board and place it on your board with a small knife.

Step 6: Choose a cracker.

I love the Fig & Olive Crackers from Trader Joes. Whether or not you choose to get these crackers, I recommend getting an option that’s not in your regular rotation. The crackers are the vessel for your charcuterie, pick something that will stand out for it’s flavor and has enough surface area to hold all your toppings. Add a couple handfuls of the crackers to your board and keep the rest nearby to replenish your spread as needed.

Step 7: Choose your charcuterie.

Soppressata, salami, prosciutto, bresaola, and pepperoni are all lovely cured meat choices. I recommend the meats be pre-sliced. Once sliced, roll them into cones and create mini piles of each option around the board. As with the crackers, keep the extra nearby as the meat is often the first to go!

There you have it. An easy and fool-proof way to construct the perfect charcuterie board. Check your calendar and send out the invites! This board is bound to make you the wine night host to beat in your friends group.