Recipes by Emily Demler | Photos by Jonna Dodge
ummer in style with a poolside charcuterie board and refreshing Aperol Spritz. Our valley heat gives the perfect excuse to relax on the water and enjoy the afternoon. Take a dive into the basics of creating your own board with Emily Demler of the Charcuterie Cuisine.
Lifestyle: What goes through your mind in the process of shopping for a charcuterie board?
Emily: I have a lot of fun shopping for boards, picking items I would want to eat while incorporating new foods and ways to be creative. I constantly remind myself that even if a board is “too pretty to eat,” people will still eat it. When shopping, I pull from these key categories: cured meats, cheeses, bread, crackers, fruits, veggies, nuts and jams. Mixing items from each category lends to a wholesome eating experience. I also love using fresh seasonal produce. Eating with the seasons will transform your boards, adding a fresh twist throughout the months.
Lifestyle: How do you select the elements of your board?
Emily: To please various palettes, I incorporate an array of cheeses, meats, fruits and veggies. For cheese, I always use a mix of hard, soft and crumbly. A hard or aged cheese like Parmesan or Manchego is always a crowd favorite. Softer, more mild cheeses to consider are cheddar, gouda or brie. And blue cheese is a great crumbly cheese option. Color is the next consideration when shopping. This is where fruits and vegetables shine, pulling in color and adding variety.
Lifestyle: Do you have a favorite place to shop?
Emily: Honestly, you can get great charcuterie items at any grocery store. Trader Joe’s is my pick because it has a wider variety of crackers, seasonal fruits and dried goods. Needless to say, you can still find delicious options at Save Mart and Smart & Final as well. The best way to explore is through trial and error.
Lifestyle: What’s your favorite combination?
Emily: My favorite is brie cheese drizzled with honey or blackberry jam on a baguette slice with a dried apricot on top. But you also can’t go wrong with a classic caprese salad mash-up with cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and a touch of balsamic on a slice of bread. If you ever get the chance to watch me make a board, you’ll see I love to sample the products to make sure they taste great.
Lifestyle: What is the best way to display your board? Are there any particular arrangements you like best?
Emily: Most of us were taught not to play with our food. But I do just the opposite! Whenever I put together a board, the finished product looks completely different than how it started.
Playing with food is what I love to do.
I’ve found the best way to start a board is by establishing focal points with the cheese and meats first. Salami roses or rivers draw in the eye and keep things interesting — both are simple to create! I tend to set those items out first, then see what fruits and veggies can fill the empty space. While I am designing the board, color is a constant consideration. I like to have an even distribution of color and uniformity. Of course, this is up for debate in your own creations — let your personal expression shine here. I add in pops of color with oranges or bright fruits like strawberries and blueberries. To top it off, I love to incorporate greenery and herbs. Rosemary, sage and basil are some of my favorites. Not only do they add a strong fragrance, the green color makes a board look complete.
Lifestyle: How can people see more of your work?
Emily: Photos of my work are posted on Instagram
@The_Charcuterie_Cuisine, everything from large grazing tables to individual charcuterie boxes.
Stay tuned for more great eats to come!
Poolside Charcuterie Board
- Cured meats (i.e., salami, prosciutto, calabrese, sopressata …)
- Brie cheese
- Parmesan cheese
- Aged gouda
- Mild cheddar cheese
- Seasonal fruit (i.e., peaches and nectarines …)
- Fresh veggies (i.e., cherry tomatoes, mini bell peppers, cucumbers …)
- Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries
- Red or green grapes
- Crackers/sliced baguette
- Honey or jam
- Assortment of nuts and dried fruits (i.e., almonds, pistachios, dried figs, cranberries, apricots …)
- Citrus, kiwi, fresh herbs for garnish
Grab a large platter or wooden cutting board; anything you can find will work great.
Next, place and arrange your cut cheeses and/or small bowls (if using).
Then arrange your meats in a “river-like format,” or however you would like to present them. Wash and cut your fruits and vegetables, and place them around your board.
Add your crackers/baguettes and garnish with nuts, dried fruits and herbs.
Now it’s time to dig in!
Summer Aperol Spritz
- 1 part Aperol
- 2 parts Prosecco (your favorite kind will do)
- A splash of Topo Chico (or unflavored
- sparkling water)
- Slice of citrus
Fill your glass with ice, until nearly full.
Pour the Aperol first, then add your choice of Prosecco.
Finish it off with a splash of Topo Chico and garnish with a slice of fresh citrus.