al fresco dining

al fresco dining
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al fresco dining

by Lisa Truesdale

putting together a summer spread has never been so easy

Charcuterie boards are the stars of many an elegant party. Mingling guests can help themselves to the meats, cheeses, crackers, and other bite-sized foods, all arranged enticingly in rows, piles, cubes, swirls, and “salami rivers.” With all those choices, it’s easy to please everyone in the crowd.

But why wait for an elegant party—or even a crowd, for that matter? Whether you’re entertaining a large group or it’s just your family relaxing on the patio, charcuterie boards are perfect all year round, and especially in the summer. That’s when you’ll find the biggest selection of fresh, local ingredients, and there’s no slaving over a hot stove or grill.

Best of all, while they fancy-up any occasion, charcuterie boards are surprisingly simple to put together. Follow these tips for creating a board and supplement it with hearty side dishes and local wine for a winning al fresco dining experience.

perfect pairings

Assembling Your Board
1. Place any jams, spreads and oily olives in little condiment bowls and scatter them around the board.

2. Arrange the meats evenly around the board, then do the same with the cheeses. (It’s okay if items touch, as they’re meant to be enjoyed together.)

3. Add crackers and/or bread.

4. Finally, fill in with the pretty stuff—fresh or dried fruit, veggies, nuts, herb sprigs and/or edible flowers.

5. Keep extras handy in the fridge in case the board needs restocking.

Expert Tips
Get creative when choosing your foundation. You can use just about any platter, plate, tray, cutting board or lazy susan, or even a rustic (but clean) slab of wood.

If your charcuterie board is an appetizer, offer about 2 ounces of meat per person. If it’s the main attraction, offer about 4-5 ounces per person.

Mix or match cuisines—for instance, all-Italian meats and cheeses, or an assortment from different regions.

Include toothpicks or cocktail forks for guests to pick up their selections and have spreaders on hand for creamy cheeses.

If you’d rather keep portions individual, consider creating mini versions on individual bar boards, plates or even in mason jars for a fun presentation.

Unique Extras
dried apricots
fruit paste
pate
hummus
salted or spiced nuts
cornichons
thinly sliced radishes
herb sprigs
edible flowers

local resources

Black Mesa Winery
Velarde
blackmesawinery.com
The winemaker suggests pairing a charcuterie board with Velarde Reisling, Velarde Merlot, or Cabernet Sauvignon. Available online and at Total Wine and More.

The Deli at Sassella
225 Johnson St., Santa Fe
thedeliatsassella.com
Sassella, a fine-dining Italian restaurant, also has a gourmet deli with meats, cheeses, olives and other Italian specialty foods. Curbside pickup available.

Heidi’s Raspberry Farm
heidisraspberryfarm.com
Gourmet jams made with organic raspberries from a Corrales farm. The Red Chile Jam makes a great topper for soft cheeses like Brie or chèvre. Available online and at Whole Foods.

M’Tucci’s Restaurants
Italian
6001 Winter Haven Rd. NW
Twenty-Five
4939 Pan American Freeway. NE
Moderno
1908 Wellspring Ave. SE, Rio Rancho
mtuccis.com
One-stop shops for meats, cheeses, spreads and breads.

Rail Yards Market
777 1st St. SW, Albuquerque
Sundays, May–October, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Nonprofit growers’ market showcasing local artisan, gourmet, and farm-fresh foods.
Online ordering available.