Soft, Mild, Cured, Oh My!

Soft, Mild, Cured, Oh My!

Ooh, it's Sunday Funday of a long weekend! Hope you are doing something SUPER FUN, and I hope it includes indulging in some YUMMY food and spending time with loved ones.

This is the 1st weekend, in the last 5 weeks, that I have not be traveling, attending a party, being the one to throw a party, and, well just being "normal." I admit, though, I have had a little FOMO; as you know I like throwing a GOOD PARTY and, when it is a weekend such as this, my wanting to put on a little good cheer starts to get the best of me. Needless to say, my uncle is throwing a huge cookout tonight, so I will make sure to bring my own touch to the party! :) Thinking one of my favorite Summer Salads, deviled eggs (which will be showcased on a popular website SOON; keep you posted), some grilled chicken, and, hello, Rose! My Mom is making a from scratch - and "healthy" - Sangria which, according to the news, is the "wine of the Summer."

A little too sweet for my taste buds but I am already sweet, so I guess that is why (ha)! 

One of my main go-to's when throwing a party is having a fabulous looking appetizer spread. You can make it look super fancy (and not spend a whole lot of money) and super fun (new, and interesting foods) BUT I LOVE the fact that it is a wonderful conversation starter too.

Hands down, my favorite appetizer that I keep "perfecting," is the art of a beautiful Cheese & Charcuterie Board. Over the years, I have made variations of it, order it out whenever it is on a restaurant menu, and researched "how to showcase the best board." Pinterest has been a great source for this too! Sure, it does come down to your likes, preferences, and, of course, your spin & flair on a classic BUT, for your guests who may be meat & cheese aficionados, you want to make sure you are on your game and know "why you chose what you chose." 

The past few months have been filled with showers, parties, and a lot of pomp and circumstance surrounding my sister's Wedding. With it has come a great test in my cheese and cured meats knowledge. And, yes, for the Italians out there, I know "Antipasto" has been around for years...and, okay, I am wanting it to look just as beautiful as it is delicious so it can be Instagram worthy! I did get schooled on this very topic not too long ago. LOL!

One of the biggest tasks is finding a local butcher, grocery store, or wine/cheese shop that knows what they are doing when it comes to slicing and selection. After a referral from a client, I tried out The Wine Source in Hampden, MD a few years ago, and I have never looked back. What's funny, is that it has always been a place I go to for certain wines and other libations but I had never purchased anything from their gourmet department. Their staff is so knowledgeable, and their selection is fabulous!! I have also found that Wegmans and Whole Foods do a great job, and, apparently, Sam's Club has stepped up their cheese case too. Thinking I will need to check it out! 

Going back to The Wine Source, everything is fresh, a little different, and can be purchased as a "stand alone" or arranged as a board for you. Having them arrange is a great option if you want to take to a party. I say this because if you don't want to worry about your dishes at the end of the night, they will place on a disposable board which still looks decent, although you may need to jazz it up a bit. Another option is bringing your own platter a day or two before (when you place your order) and they will use that instead. As of late, I simply give guidelines as to how many people, our preferences on cheeses (hold the bleu) and meats, and then let the experts pick accordingly. They wrap it up and then I can "do it up" as I want. Any time there is one that is really outstanding - most all of them are - I will make sure to write it down so it can be purchased again! Here is just a "sampling" of some of my masterpieces:

cured meats






cheese and charcuterie


  Oh, and HOW COOL is that wooden board?!?! That was another task that I was on a mission to    find - the perfect board to showcase 'da goods. I wanted something long, rectangular, and BIG!    Wow, just reading that sounds a bit obscene. Anyway, what a find when I came across this       at Nordstrom's Home Department. For under $70, it is absolutely PERFECT, makes a great     statement, and you would not believe all of the compliments! 

  What exactly will you find on one of my works of art? Again, not TOTALLY all-inclusive but this     gives an idea of the general "families" I use. 

  Cheeses: Cheddar, Goat/Sheep, Gouda, & Mild Brie

  Charcuterie: Salami, Speck/Prosciutto, and Pate

  Accoutrements: Whole grain mustard, homemade jelly, honey, grapes, almonds, olives (on the   occasion), specialty crackers, & fresh baguette 


And, if you are looking for some local places in Baltimore with the BEST cheese & charcuterie boards when dining out, here are some of my favorites:

Birrotecca in Hampden, MD 

Cinghiale (Honestly, this is the only thing I go for here; sit at the bar, grab some wine, and share some yummy Italian meats and cheeses) in Harbor East

Wit & Wisdom at the Four Season's Hotel in Harbor East

The Oregon Grille in Hunt Valley, MD

Rec Pier Chop House at The Pendry Hotel in Fell's Point

Although I have not been, Cultured, (located on Park Avenue in Baltimore) is supposed to have a fantastic selection! Additionally, as is Lobo's in Fell's Point, and 13.5% Wine Bar in Hampden. Yeah, these 3 are on my list of places to check out ASAP! 

As always, if you have any recommendations, let me know! I LOVE a good meat/cheese board!


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