By Daniella Byck
You have the vision. You have the components. But the real ‘wow-factor’ involved in a charcuterie board is in the presentation. This is where the amateurs are separated from the seasoned. As a capricorn, my instinct has always been order and pattern. Luckily, the stars aligned and my board building partner had a gift for the beautifully undone. Regardless of your stance, even the most charmingly haphazard board can be aided with a simple plan of action.
Start with a base
I do not know how to do taxes. I still get lost on campus. Unsurprisingly, I also do not possess a rustic wooden charcuterie board. Improvisation is your friend here. We layered a baking sheet with a clean dish towel and wax paper. Voila! An effortless vintage vibe. Think big and turn your entire coffee table into a massive cheese display. Layer a chopping board with parchment paper and write identifiers for each piece directly on the base. Stack a cup on top of a large plate and place a smaller plate on top for a dramatic, fountain-like shape. All the world’s a charcuterie board and all the meat and cheese merely players.
Place the cheese
The rule of thirds has dictated that aesthetic theatrics can be achieved by imagining the subject through two horizontal and two vertical gridlines. Inspired by this photography principle and the shapes of the cheese themselves, we set the blocks in an imperfect triangle formation leaning towards the left side of our invisible lines. Leave enough room between islands of cheese for cured meats, spreads and vehicles.
Arrange small bowls
If you are placing your spreads and various accoutrements directly on the board, go for it! If you are siphoning them into small bowls, you will want to place those after the cheese. Vessels provide volume and their rotund shape can serve as central points to build around. We situated our bowls in pairs of small and larger at diagonal corners of the baking sheet.
Frame and fill in
This is where the artistry comes in. Whatever your design leanings, lean into them. For us, grapes crawled over the edges of the board. Stacks of baguette were in prime location for extending fingers. We used the cheese and bowls as core points and butterflied tiers of salami around them. Flimsy, thinly sliced meats were folded and layered over each other for a multi-dimensional mandolin effect. Faced with remaining open space, we piled crackers and tucked them away for a snapshot that was as indulgent for the eye as it was for the stomach.
Congratulations – you have officially built your board. But did you really construct a masterpiece if you did not take a full blown photoshoot? Capture the mirage of adulthood exactly as a sixteen year old would: throw it on Snapchat, Instagram, Periscope, Kik and Myspace. Revel in this magical milestone as you head home for the break and revert back to all of your high school tendencies.