5 Charcuterie Items to Elevate Your Holiday Spread

We've already covered the one-stop cheese board shopping guide.  But for the occasions when you have a little more time to gather ingredients, here are a few items that are worth the extra effort.

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QUINCE PASTE:  Traditionally from Spain, this firm, sweet jelly made from the pulp of a quince fruit is the perfect compliment to salty cheeses like manchego.  Cut it up in slices (SEE PHOTO AT TOP - it's in the 1 o'clock position on the cheese board).

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HUMBOLT FOG:  A little pricier than the Trader Joe's cheeses, but it's creamy, mild taste is a definite crowd-pleaser.  A goat milk cheese made by Cypress Grove, with a distinguishing layer of edible ash, guests go nuts for this one.  Tastes particularly great on crackers with honey. (SEE PHOTO AT TOP- it's in the 3 o'clock position).

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GOOD OLIVES: The Trader Joe's variety I mentioned in the last SHOPPING LIST is great, but if you get the chance to pick from a good olive bar, you're golden. I tend to like Castelvantano Olives (the bright green ones), which are are also available in jars at Whole Foods and many supermarkets.  YUM!

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FIG JAM: Dalmatia Fig Spread is my favorite.  Put a wooden spoon in it and use it as a centerpiece for the whole spread. You can find this at Whole Foods, most supermarkets and here on Amazon, if that's easier.  It serves a similar purpose to the quince paste, so you can choose one or the other for your board OR go hog wild and put out both :)

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MIDNIGHT MOON: Another cheese from Cypress Grove.  It's nutty and buttery upfont with a slightly sweet finish.  Goes great with the fig jam above.  I like to cut out the inner part from the rind and crumble it up, then put it back in the shape of the rind for presentation.  SEE PHOTO at bottom.

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There you have it!  A few items to build upon your cheese board staples.  The below photo has both Midnight Moon (upper left) and Humbolt Fog (right).  There was a crazy amount of cheese on that platter for a very special friend's daughter's bday and we managed to eat it all.  Those cheeses are THAT GOOD!

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Remember to post your cheese photos, tag @ainttooproudtomeg and use the hashtag #ainttooproudtocheese so I can see all your beautiful creations.  They make me SOOOO HAPPY!!

Best Boards on the Market

Now that we have our "one-stop cheese plate shopping list," let's talk about the best boards to display that charcuterie on...

My ideal board is round with approximately 15-17in circumference and a little lip that makes it easy to transport.  Whether that's carrying it from the kitchen to the dining room or wrapping it up in tinfoil and bringing to a friends house, a lip is always appreciated for a smooth transition.   I've traditionally had lots of luck finding great options at HomeGoods.  However, a trip to HomeGoods can be hit or miss (oftentimes only finding random boards with silly embellishments or weird sayings).  "Home" might be "where the heart is," BUT there's a time and place for that... AND I don't want to see it in cursive under my cheese ;)

Aside from round, I also love the look of a rustic rectangle cutting board or square piece.  So, in the interest of rounding up the best boards for your holiday gatherings, here are some shoppable boards you can snag in time for your next cheese plate.

**UPDATE** Since writing this post, I've found an affordable, round board that I absolutely love.  If you're in the market for your first board, check this one from Target out.  It's 15in and here's an example of a cheese board and a dessert board I've made on it:

Target Hearth & Hand Magnolia Acacia Platter Cheese Board Dessert Board

And here's a round-up of other amazing options from around the web:

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1. Mango Wood Board // Sur La Table // 20in. Heavy // $60 This board is heavy and gorgeous.  On the larger end, so best for entertaining large parties.  But it's also perfect for entertaining with other meals.  I'm picturing a big loaf of cut bread and a few bowls of tomato soup :)

2. Boos Cutting Board // Sur La Table // 18in x 12in and 21in x 17in // $99 and $149; I LOVE THESE!! Heavy, great quality.  I'll be doing a GIVEAWAY in December so stay tuned. 

3. Acacia Wood Cutting Board // Target // 15in // $24.99; From the famous Hearth & Hand Magnolia line.  Great size.

4. Cutting Board w/ Handle // Sur La Table // 14in and 19in // $69.95 and $105 // These are a little in between sizes.  The 14in for smaller gatherings and the 19in for larger.

5. Lazy Susan // Sur La Table // 18in Heavy // $50.  I mean, you can't go wrong with a lazy susan.  Just twirl that cheese around so everyone gets a good piece!

6. Professional Style Cutting Board // Target // 24in x 18in // $55.99.  Less expensive alternative to the Boos option.

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7. Acacia Wood Cutting/Serving Board // Target // 12in x 16in // $19.99

8. Two-Tone Round Inlay Board // Target // 13in round plus handle // $19.99 : Veering towards the smaller end, but fun and cute.

9. Round Footed Tray // Target // 13in Large size // $19.99; Good for smaller gatherings. Another from the Hearth & Hand line. If not for cheese, great styling piece for the kitchen.

10. Cuff Wood Server // CB2 // 13in x 10.75in (wood area) // $29.95.  CB2 makes some of my favorite serving platters.  The bronze handle ads a nice touch.

11. Marble Lazy Susan // CB2 // 14inx14in // $49.95.  Square lazy susan? Sign me up!

12. Woodblock Cheese Board // Anthropologie // 13in x 11.5in // $48.

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13. Festive Marble Cheese Board //Anthropologie // 24in x 9in // $118.  "Don't mind if I..." throw in a fun option for good measure. 

14. Paddle Cutting Board // World Market // 13in x 35in $59.99.  Perfect for a holiday grazing board.

And, for reference, here are some of my favorite boards and how much food can fit on each:

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Happy cheese-plate making, everyone!!  Remember to tag @ainttooproudtomeg in your pics!!