Playing charcuterie board

A chef friend recently described the process of plating a charcuterie board as a culinary game of Jenga.

“Just when you think it’s perfect, you realize you forgot the pickles and the whole plate comes crashing down.”

It’s becoming a staple on many menus, and the art and design of charcuterie – loosely translated from the French as the tongue twister, “cold cooked meats collectively” – has a storied history that may have begun with the Romans, who reportedly were the first to regulate the trade of salted, cured meats.

But the French ran with it, creating guilds of charcutiers who produced a range of cooked, cured, or dried meats, eventually paired with pâtés, rillettes, terrines, sausages, bacon…and at one point, lard, the only “raw” meat allowed.

Thankfully, there are no regulations when it comes to what can be put on a charcuterie board, though the standard board likely includes:

  • Various meats, thinly sliced, and/or a spreadable version
  • A few cheeses of varying flavours and textures
  • Crackers or bread, toasted or lightly grilled
  • Mustard(s), savoury jams or chutneys
  • Pickled things (tiny onions, asparagus, carrots), not just pickles.

Charcuterie is usually meant to be shared, but the charcuterie-for-one dish is starting to make an appearance. And why not? It feels like you’re simply snacking even though you’re having a full lunch or dinner dish.

Inspired by a few things I’ve seen online lately, nouveau charcuterie should be taking off soon.

First, the vegetarian or vegan option.

There are numerous producers in the Okanagan with vegan “meats” and cheeses, and, of course, plenty of produce that can be pickled (spicy pickled apricots with a crumbly nut-based cheese can be divine). Check out Winecrush, Black Sheep Vegan Cheese, and products from Pulse Kitchen.

Second, dessert charcuterie should be a thing.

Let’s face it, it’s hard to pick a dessert, so a charcuterie-style plate of several items would be perfection. Small cookies with lemon curd or chocolate for dipping, pieces of baked pie crust to scoop up ice creams or jams, candied nuts, a selection of licorice. Perfection.

Finally, an idea borrowed from a winery in Australia.

Kid’s charcuterie: cheese slices, saltines, sliced corn dogs or garlic sausage, with a few marshmallows, berries, and white bread for spreading peanut butter.

A few spots for supplies:

Vin Amité Winery or Oliver Eats in Oliver

  • Doug’s Homestead in Kaleden
  • Tony’s Meats or A.K. Grimm’s in Penticton
  • Johnny’s Fresh Meats and Deli or Bonanza Meats and Deli in Kelowna
  • any Askew’s in the North Okanagan,
  • Butcher Boys in Vernon.


July 20, Similkameen: Enjoy a vertical tasting of Merlot in the caves at Seven Stones Winery. Call 240-499-2144 to reserve.

July 22, Oliver: The Wienery food truck makes an appearance at Road 13 Vineyards.

July 25, Oliver: The Vineyard Kitchen at Black Hills begins its summer dinner series with Rhone Meets Morocco, Roussanne and Syrah paired with Moroccan cuisine, call 250-498-0666 to book.

July 25, Penticton: The BC VQA shop hosts Summerland’s TH Wines for a special tasting of small batch wines.

July 27, Okanagan Falls: celebrate the Tempranillo grape with a Tapas & Tempranillo party at Stag’s Hollow, join the winemaker for tastings of six different Tempranillos.

More Okanagan Taste articles

About the Author

A creative thinker with more than two decades of experience in communications, Allison is an early adopter of social and digital media, bringing years of work in traditional media to the new frontier of digital engagement marketing through her company, All She Wrote.

She is the winner of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association's 2011 and 2012 awards for Social Media Initiative, an International LERN award for marketing, and the 2014 Penticton Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award for Hospitality/Tourism.

Allison has amassed a following on multiple social networks of more than 30,000, frequently writes and about social media, food and libations as well as travel and events, and through her networks, she led a successful bid to bring the Wine Bloggers Conference to Penticton in June 2013, one of the largest social media wine events in the world, generating 31 million social media impressions, $1 million in earned media, and an estimated ongoing economic impact of $2 million.

In 2014, she held the first Canadian Wine Tourism Summit to spark conversation about the potential for wine tourism in Canada as a year-round economic driver.

Allison contributes epicurean content to several publications, has been a judge for several wine and food competitions, and has earned her advanced certificate from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.

In her spare time, she has deep, meaningful conversations with her cats.

She can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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