We’ve always loved the ways in which summer days unfold into sweet summer nights, guests coming and going, barefooted, doors flung open wide, easy and makeshift, casual afternoon conversations deepening into the evenings. Key to this is the cheese & charcuterie board; part endless supper, part nibble, sumptuous and light all at the same time. Perfect for passing by, sitting and savoring. Few do it with the kind of panache Lady & Larder has made their trademark. 100 percent family owned and operated, siblings, best friends, with an unerring eye for all that is good and true — in food and in life — Lady & Larder shares their entertaining secrets and we advise you to listen close because nothing says summer quite like one of their boards.
1. Always include one familiar cheese (like a cheddar!) so that your guests feel immediately comfortable diving right in. After a glass of wine or two you will find that your guests tend to get a bit more adventurous.
2. Texture. Texture. Texture. Use a variety of cheeses and ensure that your accouterments include nuts, fruit and olives to provide a mixture of salty and sweet flavors. Create variety by choosing cheeses from different categories (IE fresh, soft, semi-soft, hard or blue). Another way of creating variety is by selecting your cheeses based on the type of milk they are made from including cow, goat or sheep’s.
3. Use local, seasonal accouterments to create a sense of place and ensure deliciousness. We use Malibu wild sage honey along with assorted jams and grainy mustard plus honeycomb, dried and fresh fruits, nuts, olives and dates. Right now we are loving cherries and summer stone fruit (Peaches! Nectarines! Apricots!) and excited for Heirloom Melons which are coming into season in the next week or two.
4. Work with odd numbers. For example, 3 kinds of cheese & 2 charcuterie = 5 options total which is most pleasing visually. Depending on your group size aim for 3, 5, or 7 options on your board + seasonal accouterments.
5. Cut or crumble hard cheeses so that they are more approachable for guests. With softer cheeses, we prefer to leave them whole or halved for scooping and spreading. We love seeing the insides of softer cheeses so we will often cut smaller wheels (like Mt Tam!) in half (the way you would slice a bagel) so that guests can see the beautiful triple cream interior.
6. Always serve your cheese and cured meats at room temperature so that they can really shine!