Creating a Perfect Holiday Spread: Tips from a Charcuterie Artist

Craft the Ultimate Holiday Charcuterie Board A Sophisticated and Trendy Guide

Expert tips on the perfect holiday charcuterie board that’s trendy and sophisticated.

College student Emmy Rener started her own charcuterie business in 2020. Emmy Rener Emmy Rener

Move over, summer! Fall is here, and with it comes the most exciting part of the holiday season: food! From mouth-watering Thanksgiving turkey to traditional dishes served during Christmas and Hanukkah, our taste buds are in for a treat.

But if you’re hosting a party, let me tell you the secret to starting it off in style – a stellar charcuterie board. Not only does it make for a beautiful table decoration, but it also serves as a delicious starter if done right. To help you create the perfect holiday spread, we caught up with the talented and stylish Emmy Rener, the founder of Sophisticated Spreads – a professional charcuterie business she started while in college.

Let the Flavors Dance

Emmy’s first tip for an unforgettable holiday spread is to use ingredients that subtly nod to the season. Imagine your taste buds doing a joyful jig with each bite. How do you achieve this culinary dance? It’s all about selecting accouterments (fancy word for supplementary items) that capture those signature holiday flavors. Think candied pecans or pumpkin spice-flavored treats. According to Emmy, her personal favorite is a Pumpkin Spice goat cheese from Trader Joe’s. And let’s not forget about hot dishes, like a heavenly baked brie, that can warm up even the chilliest winter nights.

But it’s not just the flavors that matter – Emmy insists on working with a color palette when creating a charcuterie board. Now, we’re not talking about painting a masterpiece; we’re talking about carefully selecting complementary hues. While she steers clear of cubes of orange cheese (because nobody wants a cheesy nightmare on their hands), Emmy does dabble with them during Halloween for some frightful fun. But for the most part, she sticks to darker, muted colors like black and red grapes, adding a touch of sophistication to her creations.

Embrace the Season’s Bounty

When it comes to ingredients, Emmy has some sage advice. Certain items simply transition better into the fall season. So, leave your sweet tooth behind and embrace the savory side of life. Fresh fruit may not always be readily available, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create a mouthwatering masterpiece. For cheeses, Emmy recommends aged Gouda or savory cheddar, pairing them with olives and pickled cornichons for that added zing.

Now, brace yourself for an explosion of flavors. Emmy’s go-to cheese pairing during the holiday season is fig chutney or jam. Ah, the sweet tang and the burst of fruity goodness – it’s like a symphony of flavors for your taste buds. And if you still crave that touch of sweetness, dried apples, dates, or figs will satisfy your longing.

Beware of Going Overboard

Decorations can bring charm to any party, but be warned: there’s a fine line between trendy and going cheugy (yes, it’s a real word). Emmy advises playful decorations that enhance the overall look without overpowering it. A dark wooden or black slate board adds a moody touch. And instead of fresh flowers – leave those for spring and summer – opt for pine cones or delicate sprigs of foxtail grass to spruce up your charcuterie creation.

Now, let’s talk about themed holiday boards. While it’s tempting to go all-out, stick to subtlety. For Halloween, get creative with cooking string to transform a puff-pastry-covered brie into a pumpkin look-alike or hollow out a small pumpkin and fill it with a whipped dip. But beware of adding candy corn – it can tilt the scales from tasteful to tacky. And one trend Emmy strongly advises against is shaping the board to resemble something like a Christmas tree. Sure, it’s cute, but it’s not exactly user-friendly for guests when trying to pair ingredients. Let’s keep the finesse in our cheese boards, shall we?

So, go forth, my fellow fashionistas of flavor, and create a holiday spread that will leave your guests swooning. Let your taste buds dance, embrace the colors of the season, but remember, subtlety is the key to a successful charcuterie board. Cheers to a festive feast filled with laughter, love, and of course, incredible food!

What are your favorite tips for creating the perfect charcuterie board? Share your ideas and let’s celebrate the art of culinary elegance together!