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.


The art of al fresco

The weather may not be totally co-operating, so far, this summer, but the unexpected cool evening breezes are directly translated from the Italian, al fresco, meaning, in the cool.

It can also mean, according to Wikipedia, spending time in jail.

But that’s not the object of these suggestions, as more commonly in the Okanagan, the phrase is most often used to describe dining or entertaining outdoors.

Certainly, there are patios a-plenty to enjoy at just about any winery, brew pub, or your favourite restaurant. You can raid the cheese, meat, and cracker cases at your local store or in a wine shop and create your own impromptu picnic, but for a special occasion, there are many options.

New this year around Oliver and Osoyoos, there is Out n About Al Fresco Dining, visiting a handful of wineries with multi-course meals and plenty of wine pairings.

The best part?

Door-to-door service provided by several tour companies. No need for a designated driver. Find more info on their Facebook page and book soon, as dinners are limited to a dozen guests: https://www.facebook.com/outnaboutdining/

If you haven’t experienced a “Cuisine du Terroir” dinner with Joy Road Catering, this is the year to go. If there are still seats.

On Sundays, al fresco dining at a long table overlooking Skaha Lake south of Penticton takes place at God’s Mountain Estate. The setting will make you think you’re in Italy: http://www.joyroadcatering.com/events.php

If barbecue is your thing, in Kaleden there is Flambé Catering. Every Thursday, you can book dinner at the historic 1912. Live music and one of the most Instagram-worthy venues in the valley (you’ve probably seen it in wedding photos), have a look: http://www.flambe.catering/

And rounding out suggestions in the southern part of the valley (next week we’ll look at the north), is Rabbit Hollow.

Select dates for Farm to Fork dinners with The Chef Instead in Westbank. A charming location with a garden tour included. More details on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/380759776102951/


July 5, Summerland: Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards begins its FITZ Fridays night summer concerts with Tavis Weir, with an option to include a three-course dinner.

July 5, West Kelowna: Kalala hosts its 11th Anniversary Celebration all day, with Dosa Crepe Café on site.

July 5, Naramata: Legend Distilling presents painting and cocktails with artist Jenny Long.

July 6, Naramata: Enjoy outdoor movie night at Popular Grove, featuring the movie Sideways.

July 6, Okanagan Falls: Frälik in the Falls, with the wineries of the Okanagan Falls Winery Association and buffet dinner by Nest and Nectar.

Summer wine magic

Summer officially began with solstice a few days ago, and the first of the big events to come.

After this Canada Day long weekend, the B.C. wine season really ramps u or at least that’s how it feels to me, as I look at the calendar days blocked with guest arrivals and departures.

And so, in addition to a short weekly list of events at the end of each Okanagan Taste column, here’s a list of those must-go-to-this-one “signature” events reaching into early autumn.

Many sell out weeks in advance, so get out the Google calendar and start booking tickets.

July 6, Fralik in the FallsOkanagan Falls: formerly known as Party in the Park, the Fralik (frolic) features wineries from Okanagan Falls, live music from UnCorked! and a buffet dinner by Penticton’s Nest & Nectar. Bonus, a silent auction.

Aug. 11, Feast of Fields Kelowna: a wandering harvest picnic festival, this year to be held at Caldwell Heritage Farm, the Feast features around 40 different food and beverage stations in a beautiful outdoor setting. Bonus, it’s kid friendly and it benefits the work of Farm Folk City Folk.

Aug. 17, BC Pinot Noir CelebrationKelowna: if the heartbreak grape is your favourite, this celebration for you. Held at the UBC Okanagan Campus, top chefs, breakout sessions, and 35 of the province’s best pinot wineries. Bonus. Speaker Madeline Pukette, aka Wine Folly, will be there.

Aug. 18, Garagiste North Kelowna: In search of small producers and their hard-to-find wines? Garagiste is all about these folks, including wineries you may have never heard of. All of the wineries attending produce under 2,000 cases, sometimes way under. Bonus, pop-up store for purchases.

Sept. 14, Tailgate Party Naramata: Wineries from the Naramata Bench gather for their annual harvest celebration, held at the Naramata Heritage Inn, and featuring tasty creations from Naramata bench chefs. Bonus, costumes along the theme of the Roaring ‘20s are encouraged, with prizes to be won.

Oct. 6, Festival of the Grape Oliver: An early fall afternoon with dozens of wineries, food trucks, artisan vendors, live music, and the famous grape stomping competition. Bonus, kids zone and an art sale to round out the day.

There are numerous other events, large and small, almost daily until the cold weather returns. A good resource is the online events calendar from the B.C. Wine Institute, found at https://winebc.com/wine-bc-events/, or by picking up a visitor’s guide in just about any Okanagan community.


June 27, Kelowna: House of Rose opens its summer music series with House of Funk. 

June 27, Summerland: David Gogo takes his solo show to Okanagan Crush Pad.

June 30, Naramata: Sauvignon Blanc and Oysters at Bench 1775.

Fridays, Oliver: It’s happy hour every Friday at Tinhorn Creek until the end of August. 


College uncorks some cool

Supporting B.C.’s beverage industry

If you have every thought that it would be cool to start a business that produces a beverage that is brewed, fermented, or distilled, your wine/beer/cider/spirit idea could make use of a new service at Okanagan College.

Announced last week, the B.C. Beverage Technology Access Centre, or BCBTAC, will be housed at the Penticton campus, with plans to officially open for business this fall.

Full disclosure, I was one member of the team that completed the application for $1.75 million in federal funding (over five years), to bring this to fruition.

BCBTAC, the second technology access centre in the province, will provide testing and business services and applied research assistance to the wine, beer, cider and spirits industries in the province.

It’s kind of a big deal to have in the Okanagan, with hundreds of beverage businesses nearby, and more opening at a rapid pace almost weekly, it seems.

The BCBTAC was chosen for federal funding after a thorough process (overseen by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada - NSERC) which drew applications from across the country.

TACs provide capabilities that serve applied research and innovation needs of regional firms, and may include advice on specific company challenges, specialized technical assistance, applied research and/or development projects for companies, and/or specialized training.

If you have asked yourself one of the following questions, you may be able to find your answer and expertise at the BCBTAC:

  • How do I start a winery?
  • Where do I get my new product tested?
  • Who does market research for spirits made in the Okanagan?
  • Can I export my craft beer to Asia?
  • What are the rules to sell hard cider?

Billed as a one-stop-shop for existing, emerging, and “just at the idea stage” businesses and products, the BCBTAC will be an excellent resource for anyone who needs to navigate the many steps to bring their beverage to market.


June 19, Penticton: Blasted Church is having a block party complete with food trucks, free wine tastings, and live music.

June 20, Penticton: Well-known Okanagan singer-songwriters Aidan and Mandy perform at Time Winery. 

June 20, Naramata: Limited tickets are available for the Spring Release Party at Upper Bench, featuring new wines and cheese. 

June 22, Okanagan Falls: Wild Goose Winery hosts blues artist Hector Anchondo as part of its Vineyard Stage Concert Series, complete with a barbecue buffet. 

June 22, province-wide: JAK’s Beer Wine and Spirits stores are donating 10% of sales from its 14 locations on Saturday to local food banks, including the Penticton store. 

June 27, Kelowna: House of Rose opens its summer music series with House of Funk.

June 27, Summerland: David Gogo takes his solo show to Okanagan Crush Pad. 

Fridays, Oliver: It’s happy hour every Friday at Tinhorn Creek until the end of August. 

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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