30 October 2014

The Love of Entertaining :: The Art of a Charcuterie & Cheese plate


When I lived in London, one of the things I really loved was throwing together a Charcuterie and Cheese plate to entertain guests or take on a picnic.  The artisan cheese shops in every neighborhood and local butcher shops made it a fun task to not only put together, but to actually shop for as well.  It is a quick and elegant snack or light meal that isn't nearly as fussy as it's name.

So.... what is CHARCUTERIE?

It is French word that in the traditional sense is the art of smoking and curing meats (typically pork) and dates back well before refrigeration. Today, while the same processes are still used with the meats, it has an even greater meaning in the world of entertaining... Bringing in the meat element to a plain old cheese plate is a total game changer!

How do you put it all together?

The real key to successful plate in my opinion is to just make sure you have a mixture of textures and flavors.... and complete flexibility in the arrangement.  There is no right or wrong way to assemble it.... just do what looks pleasing to you. I promise your guests will not be disappointed!

Here are my top 5 tips for creating a beautiful and elegant charcuterie and cheese plate:

1. Start with a great platter, tray or board. I prefer something simple to show off the beautiful meat and cheeses. My favorite is a wooden board from Crate and Barrel shown below.

2. Typically, a good charcuterie board will consist of 3-5 smoked or cured meats such as Prosciutto, Spec, Salami, Coppa, or Bresaola and may also include a pâté or a confit.

3. When selecting cheeses, the rule of three is simple...choose an assortment of soft, medium and hard/sharp cheeses but remember to keep them mild so they do not overpower the beautiful meats.

4. Add a side of mustard or pickles for acidity.

5. Toss some crusty baguette slices and crackers on the side.

For an added bonus, you could also add some marcona almonds and a dish of olives.

Crate & Barrel Palisades Cheeseboard

And there you have it... an incredibly easy and elegant way to entertain.


28 October 2014

The Love of Entertaining: Global Champagne Day!

In my world, there is nothing that says "CELEBRATE" quite like champagne! So, in honor of GLOBAL CHAMPAGNE DAY and with the holidays right around the corner,  I thought it would be a nice idea to share with you a little "champagne 101" and some of my personal favorite selections.


In order for a bubbly to really be considered Champagne, it must come from the Champagne region in France. Otherwise, it is really just a "sparkling wine".  Real champagne is a very special product as it is a culmination of the climate, soil and French government restrictions that factor into every step of the process,including the labeling to  ensure the highest quality in the entire world. Champagnes are usually a blend of grapes, typically Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, often with a touch of Pinot Meunier as well. They range from dry (brut) to mildly sweet (demi-sec) to very sweet (doux). 

So - Let's start with the labels... How do you decipher the labels to make sure you are getting what you want?  Let's take a look....


While that is all lovely to know about the label... how do i really know what "taste" i prefer?  Here is your key to proper enjoyment.

 Brut: The most common style of Champagne and sparkling wines, and also the driest, although some with terms such as "Extra Brut" can be even drier.
 Extra Dry: In the twisted lexicon of wine terms, these words, on a Champagne label, actually mean the wine is slightly sweeter than Brut. Go figure.
 Demi-sec, Doux: Sweeter styles of Champagne.
 Prosecco, Spumante, Asti Spumante: Italian sparklers; the spumantes are usually sweeter in style.
 Blanc de Blancs: A sparkler made exclusively from white grapes, usually chardonnay. Usually lighter in body.
 Blanc de Noirs: Made from red-wine grapes such as pinot noir and pinot meunier, though the skins are removed quickly so the wine remains white. Tend to be richer and more full-bodied.
 Méthode Champenoise: This designation means the secondary fermentation (the one that makes the bubbles) takes place in the bottle, not a giant holding tank.

So what about VINTAGE vs. NON-VINTAGE??
Most Champagnes are non-vintage: that is, they are made from a blend of grapes from different years, aged in the bottle for 18 months. Vintage Champagne is made with high-quality grapes from the same year; they must be aged three years before they are released.
My favorites are the BLANC de BLANCS and I prefer smaller vineyards to that of the mass produced... and while I do not believe champagne has to crazy expensive to be enjoyable, I do think you need to be in touch with what you like to enjoy the full experience. 

Here are my top 5 favorite BUBBLES!  

1. Billecart - Salmon

2. Lenoble

3. Ruinart

And last but not least, some tips for Storing and Chilling Champagne

Storing Champagne:

Champagne is more sensitive to temperature and light than most other wines. For that reason, it is typically bottled in a light-resistant, dark green glass. Champagne should be stored between 40 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit and may be kept upright or horizontally.

Chilling Champagne:

Ideally, Champagne should be chilled to a temperature between 40 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature can be attained by placing the bottle in a refrigerator for a couple of hours or a freezer for 15 minutes. Finally, the classic way to chill a bottle of Champagne is to place it in an ice-bucket, half filled with ice, half with water, for 20 minutes.




Blog Design + Development by Fabulous K | Logo Design by Emily McCarthy