Welcoming the Ace Community with Fancy Cheese
I was inspired by the Ace Community I called on to create a post all about charcuterie boards; a vessel for comfort and connection. All who are hungry are welcome and encouraged to inquire.
On Tuesday, I posted a video on Instagram asking the Ace Community to show their Ace (with my cute #ShowYourAce).
If you didn’t see the video, here’s the gist: I enjoy sharing my story, projects, means of being productive, but I want to hear from YOU.
The whole idea behind AOAT was to engage my community through its mission. It was not to create a “platform” to speak from, but rather, a welcoming environment for ideas and projects that make us proud.
It may seem cheesy (foreshadowing pun), but I feel like we all could use some social connection right about now...just a hunch.
I'm not talking about the double tap and scroll or the bull “oh, you look so pretty!” comments. I’m talking about sharing our stories, sliding into DMs with purpose, not being afraid to reach out to people we haven’t talked to in a while, asking questions with answers we genuinely care about; the list goes on and on andddd on.
As you’ve seen in the Find Your Ace Assessment and Plan or known from prior knowledge or will see in posts to come, social well-being is just as important as emotional, physical, and intellectual well-being. They are all intertwined.
So, to sum it up sweetly, I made a video to pump up the community to engage, and I’m just as pumped in return.
Chapter 2: Charcuterie, please.
If I were asked to put it simply, the two things in life that make me the happiest are human interactions and delicious food.
A charcuterie board, pronounced shahr-ku-tuh-ree (because so many people don’t know, including me a year ago), is the perfect combination of these two things. The idea of marrying social banter with a beautiful spread of diverse flavors – how do I say this appropriately – makes me very happy.
I think there’s a point to clarify, however. When a board is created, it sets a tone; one that intrigues, excites, and satisfies. It’s the ambiance of the creation that makes it special; it’s a catalyst for moments.
And some moments can be personal. There are many times when I will create a mini charcuterie plate for myself, and although I don’t have the social element, it still carries a sense of presence and class.
I feel like I’m getting really deep about cheese…
Back to my point: In a time where home is basically the everyday destination for most, creating something special inside your four walls can give you a sense of excitement and nuance.
Whether you love this ish like me or are lactose-intolerant and typically avoid it, I am going to give you a wide array of tips and ideas. There are endless possibilities for everyone.
Tips for Creating a Charcuterie Board
*Most of these tips refer to a traditional charcuterie board but that’s just the jumping off point.
1. If you’ve never ordered one at a restaurant, I recommend it.
For research purposes of course! ... The only reason that I have been able to create some delicious combinations is because I saw others put together some delicious combinations first.
2. Think about textures and cuisine elements: salt, fat, acid, and heat.
To illustrate this, here is a combination I am in love with:
With a cracker as the base, I layer a piece of nutty cheese (like gouda or parmesan) with a cornichon (actually french for pickle, think a mini spicy pickle) and dried sausage, and I smother it in truffle honey. (Italicized for mouth-watering effect.)
In that one bite, I get all four elements and diverse textures. Some of the best combinations are just weird and different. Who says you can’t put mustard on a cracker with apple?
3. If you follow tip #2, you will naturally get a colorful, intriguing design.
It can seem overwhelming to create something with so many details, but more details make it unique and fun (and they fill holes).
A brief pause for the BEST charcuterie board I ever had. And a ratchy pic of it.
4. Start with the biggest elements and work down.
It is often said to start with the cheese and then continue with meats, crackers, and finally additional ingredients like cornichons and nuts.
This is what I typically do, but I said biggest instead of cheeses because jams and mustards will require a bowl and you should place the bowls early as not to disrupt your hard work later on.
5. When it comes to cheeses, think of contrast.
Good cheese is expensive, so you want it to be worth it.
You want each cheese to have its own personality. If you have parmesan, a hard cheese, as your first, consider choosing goat or brie, a soft cheese, as your second. This goes right back to tips #2 & #3 enabling a variety of tastes, textures, and combinations.
Takeaway: you can’t go wrong if you have a hard, medium, and soft cheese variety. Just google what falls in each category.
[I want to give a shout out to Evergreen Cheese in Chestnut Hill. The sole purpose of their business is to provide you with quality, artisanal cheeses. The best part is that you can try samples so that you know you will like what you purchase. And it’s also pretty awesome to support small businesses, especially now.
I went there for my last board I put together and got an amazing goat gouda cheese. It was delicious.]
6. Here are some ingredient suggestions for a traditional board.
Beyond your cheeses, meats, and crackers, consider:
nuts (peanuts, walnuts, pecans)
7. Don’t just copy a pin you saved, *GET CREATIVE*.
I have seen vegetarian boards, vegan boards, guilty pleasure boards (which inspired this post), waffle boards, and even a french fries board with all different types of fries and sauces. You name it; the possibilities are abundant.
After just glossing through my charcuterie pins on Pinterest, I feel like I should just go invent a new one…
We ALL can find inspiration in our homes!!!! I’m shouting it for the folks in the back...and for myself, honestly.
As I wrote in the Food For Thought column of the blog, I recently painted my room to feel a sense of excitement and ownership…control, really. These days have been really tough, and we’re all feeling it, but there is always, always, ALWAYS something we can do about it.
I remind myself of this often, and if I don’t, I’m very blessed to have a boyfriend who does.
So, from Cole and I, stay productive, keep a growth mindset, and maybe make a charcuterie board or two. That one's coming from me. :)