There’s just something about eating an assortment of small, tasty items that appeals so much to me. Due to my being a huge fan of Mediterranean meze, Italian antipasti and Spanish tapas, the allure of the good old-fashioned Cheese & Charcuterie board is hard to resist.
Loaded high with every type of dairy delight, from a hard gruyere, a sharp English cheddar and a crumbly stilton to the creaminess of an organic goat’s cheese and the oozy undulations of a ripe camembert, the cheese aspect offers the best in show on any table it graces. While most commonly served with the addition of fruit, preserves and crackers, I’ve sexed mine up to include a few more luxurious options such as charcuterie, pastries and a decent red wine. But since variety is the spice of life, be sure to customise your own board with an assortment of treats – made all the tastier if they are sourced and produced locally.
Inspired by recent visits to two of the Western Cape’s most well-known areas for wine – Franschhoek and Robertson – my board consists of a mix of charcuterie classics like salami, bresaola, Parma ham and proscuitto. Served alongside cheeses by Dalewood Fromage , marinated olives by Kleinbergskloof and baked goods (including the prettiest of roast chicken pies) by Ou Meul Bakkery in Simondium, my curated Cheese & Charcuterie Board amalgamates the fare known to both of these locales. While predominantly continental, the beauty of the cheese board is that it can be altered to suit your tastebuds.
When it comes to my choices in cheese, I make sure to buy locally-produced products as often as possible. Dalewood Fromage make a particularly pleasing green fig Camembert and of course their Wineland Blue Brie is amazing – a luscious mild blue that becomes spreadable when properly matured. Smaller producers are a must – visit your local country markets to find some unique flavours created by independent farmers and foodies alike. When it comes to cured meats, I swear by both the reasonable pricing and unsurpassable quality of Richard Bosman‘s charcuterie but don’t be afraid to combine fellow favourites with new finds. I recently discovered Pierre’s Charcuterie at the Good Food & Wine Show and their spicy Italian sausage with fennel is beyond moreish when thinly sliced and added to a platter of olives, pickled artichokes and a strong crumbly Cheddar. Find them at both the Hermanus Country Market and the Blaauwklippen Market in Stellenbosch.
I try to almost always go with agrarian fare as I love the activity of sourcing beautiful eats from my favourite markets then returning home to devour them at leisure, making to sure to collaborate flavours wherever possible. The stylish yet simplistic Cheese & Charcuterie board is all about making use of the seasonal produce available to you and remembering to buy local as much as possible to reduce your carbon footprint. A few more of my favourite board additions are:
- smoked peppered mackerel, flaked and served with thin slices of red onion.
- mashed avocado with lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil.
- charred bell peppers, thinly sliced into a marinade of olive oil, lemon juice, white vinegar, garlic & chilli.
- Lightly steamed spring vegetables with garlic-infused olive oil.
- peri-peri chicken livers with crusty ciabatta.
- goat’s milk cheese drizzled with olive oil, fresh chilli and lemon zest.
- homemade black olive tapenade.
- garlicky tzatziki with toasted pita bread drizzled with olive oil.
- good old tinned sardines with chilli flakes and grilled vine tomatoes.
- searingly strong cheddar cheese with dark rye bread.
- smoked snoek pate´with salted crackers.
- Calamata olives marinated in garlic, olive oil, lemon juice & zest and fresh red chilli.
- labneh cheese balls rolled in crushed walnuts served with a pesto dip
The choices are endless. Happy eating!