Put the ‘cute’ in charcuterie this Valentine’s Day with a beautiful charcuterie board “À la Maison.” It’s a great way to spice things up and get creative for your valentine’s or Galentine’s date at home!
After starting a charcuterie board company during the pandemic called Jenny and the Block, I can tell you first hand that placement and layout of the board can be daunting at first. But, with practice and some tips along the way, you’ll be assembling charcuterie boards like a pro in no time!
It’s important to note that just like with art, there are no mistakes. When it comes to assembling a charcuterie board, everyone has a different style and taste, so you really can’t go wrong. A modern charcuterie board is just a mosaic of your favourite foods that go well together depending on theme and occasion. Go with your gut, have fun and enjoy the creative process with all of the delicious food and combinations there are to enjoy!
Here’s everything that you’ll need for your Valentine’s Day charcuterie board:
- A wood charcuterie board
- cheese knives
- 100 grams each of three of your favourite types of salami
- 100 grams of prosciutto
- 2-3 kinds of cheese (one, soft, one medium and one hard)
- Two fresh light pink roses
- Baby’s breath
- Jam with mini container
- Two small serving bowls
- Mini bocconcini cheese
- Mini or grape tomatoes
- Your favourite snacks
Cheese and Meat Recommendations:
Start with selecting two or three cheeses. Typically one soft, one medium and one hard cheese is chosen, as there is variety and something that appeals to everyone! I typically like to choose a goat cheese, a brie or camembert and a manchego or cheddar variety.
Eataly Toronto has some of the best Italian and Canadian cheeses and meats in the city. All of their products are always fresh and of high quality. I first tried Salt Spring Island Cheese’s goat cheese for the first time there after finding it on a whim. You can also find basil and floral goat cheeses that are delicious and look beautiful on charcuterie boards as pictured in this Valentine’s Day-themed board. The cheese counter displays wheels of cheese that are cut and portioned out in front of you and vary in price from low to high. The staff at the cheese/meat counter are very knowledgeable and will give you recommendations depending on what you are looking for! Their meat selection is amazing as well and features high-quality prosciutto and salami from Italy that they typically slice thin, which gives that high quality feel and taste. Although charcuterie is French, it’s a nice take on the concept to use Italian cured meats and incorporate another country’s cuisine!
How to assemble:
1. Start by placing your goat cheese in the centre of your charcuterie board to create a centrepiece. I like using Salt Spring Island Goat Cheese in particular, as it’s always a crowd-pleaser and their cheeses are beautiful and eye-catching.
2. Make three roses out of your favourite salami. Ideally, each rose should be a different kind of salami varying in flavour and spice levels. I like to include a mild Genoa salami, hot calabrese salami and an all-beef salami. Prosciutto is a nice option for the fourth rose for a bigger flavour profile and it’s always nice to have more shades of pink/red on the board! Place the roses across the board however you like while keeping the goat cheese in the middle.
This salami rose tutorial by Cellar Door Platters does a great job of teaching viewers how to make roses out of salami for charcuterie boards.
3. Cut off the stem and take the leaves off of two fresh roses. Add your fresh roses in between the first two salami roses on each side and use the leaves to put underneath the salami roses. I chose light pink instead of red because the pink adds contrast to the dark red salami. However, red rose petals would look nice and romantic scattered around the board for decoration. Cut off small amounts of white baby’s breath and build a bouquet around the circular goat cheese to highlight it. Not only do fresh flowers look nice, but they are perfect for the Valentine’s Day theme and you can dry them, later on, to have around the house as a nice reminder of your night!
4. I love to include mini caprese salad skewers to my charcuterie boards for my clients. You’ll need toothpicks, mini bocconcini balls, basil and small tomatoes. I like to use mini tomatoes called “tomberries” or grape tomatoes. You can layer the tomato or cheese first, but make sure you add the basil in between the cheese and tomato for freshness and authentic taste!
5. Cube up two kinds of cheese. I opted for a black licorice infused gouda and a merlot wine cheese that recently went viral on TikTok. The wine cheese is sharp and all of my customers love it. It is unique in flavour, but delicious because of its berry and plum notes from the merlot that’s infused into it. Place the cubed cheese on the sides of the goat cheese that are exposed and have it surrounding the base so that the sides are concealed.
6. Slice up a pear to make “pear crackers.” They pair well with honey and soft cheeses such as brie and goat cheese. Assemble the slices back together to keep the pear in its regular form and stand it upright on the board.
7. Add your favourite snacks all around the board. I opted for candied pecans, dried apricots, cornichons, spicy olives, yogurt-covered raisins, pistachios, goji berries and crackers. Get creative here and add your date’s favourite snacks!
8. For the final touches, add your honey and jam of choice. A current favourite on mine is hot honey by Hot Hunny Co. It’s spicy because of the Thai chilies that are added to the honey and it’s perfect for Valentine’s Day. I found heart containers from the dollar store to fill with a delicious fig jam that goes well with the goat and wine cheese! Add a large Hersey Kiss to an empty corner of the board as an ode to Valentine’s Day!
9. Fin! Enjoy your Valentine’s Day charcuterie board with a nice glass of wine and take pictures for memories!
During these uncertain times, it’s important to shop local and support small businesses. There are many small businesses with shops online and in-person that sell great products for charcuterie boards.
One of my favourite charcuterie board companies is Rustic Designs. Located in Hamilton, their charcuterie boards are made from black walnut wood and are very high-quality. These boards vary in price from high to low and come in all shapes and sizes! You can also find their designs at Cheese Boutique in Toronto.
IQ Living is a kitchen supply shop located on the Danforth in Toronto and carries all kinds of knives including cheese knives. A charcuterie board isn’t complete without cheese knives for an easy and mess-free charcuterie experience. I love these simple and sleek stainless steel cheese knives.
Kitchen Stuff Plus is home to great kitchenware items that won’t break the bank. I like to use small serving bowls for pickles and olives and these ones definitely do the trick!
Lastly, your local dollar store is an often underrated and overlooked place for kitchenware. The selection is perfect for cheap and cheerful finds for little containers or bowls that are perfect for jams or preserves and for displaying pickles and olives.
All photos: Jenny Freedman of Jenny and the Block