Charcuterie has its origins as a humble french peasant dish. But don’t let the simplicity of the preparation deceive you – curated and composed with a thoughtful arrangement of textures and tastes — Aside from being very delicious, a cheese and charcuterie board acts as a vessel for communication and is a great communal nibble.

Words & Photos . Stefanie Richardson

One of my favourite holiday activities is to simply relax with a glass of wine and reminisce with friends  while munching on a charcuterie board filled with local cheese, cured meats, dried fruit and nuts. Rather than picking up a ready-made board, why not create a stunning arrangement tailor made for your guests with the very best of the tastes our area has to offer. Every aspect of creating a custom sourced charcuterie board is enjoyable—from browsing and shopping to assembling the ingredients—the final result is not only beautiful and delicious but each item is a topic of conversation.

During the planning phase, it helps if you write a list of everything that you want to source locally and draw out a game plan. To start, I begin brainstorming what cheeses and charcuterie I’d like to purchase before beginning the hunt. Fortunately for us, we have a few great shops in the area that have a wide range of artisan cheeses and knowledgeable staff that can help you with your selection if you’re unsure of which direction to head.

Included on this board we have Rosemary Asiago and D’affinois Brie from The Cheese Gallery, Thornbury; Kaamps Original Gouda and Tahlia sheeps’ milk cheese from Dags and Willow, Collingwood; as well as a round of vegan Bontanic True Blue by the Frauxmagerie on Georgian Bay, handcrafted in the heart of Meaford. When choosing which cheeses to feature, it’s important to include a mixture of soft and hard cheeses that would pair well with the various accompaniments you plan on serving. Beaver Valley Honey from the Honey House in Clarksburg is perfect for pairing with a double or triple cream brie and a little prosciutto slice. For this charcuterie, we sourced wild boar sausage from Black Angus Fine Meats & Game and some saucisson sec from The Cheese Gallery – both salty and full of flavour. And, of course, nothing is complete without authentic, Italian prosciutto.

Have fun with the pairings—use creative freedom and provide a variety of options—shop as local as you can and you’ll be golden!

Beaver Valley Honey from the Honey House in Clarksburg is perfect for pairing with a double or triple cream brie and a little prosciutto slice Georgian Hills, Maréchal Foch 2015 — A complex red wine — pairs perfectly with wild boar sausage from Black Angus Fine Meats & Game – salty and full of flavour.

Once you’ve decided on the cheese and charcuterie, it’s time to fill your board up with the accompaniments. For the most part, cheese pairs particularly well with sweet items like Ambrosia apples and Bartlett pears from Grandma Lambe’s, sweet and spicy pecans from The Cheese Gallery, Beaver Valley Honey and Red Pepper Jelly from Round The Bend Preserves while the cured meats taste divine with items like olives and dilly beans found at Cottage Country North in Wiarton.

As you can see, grapes are a staple on my cheese and charcuterie board because they add colour, and are both sweet and crunchy.

In my opinion, no cheese & wine night is complete without a little bit of chocolate—so, to add a little sweetness we sourced some locally made treats to add to the presentation:

Crave The Chocolatier in Collingwood makes their Belgian chocolate in-house so we added their Cranberry Bark, also Side Launch Wheat Ale truffles and Georgian Hills Iced Wine truffles.  And finally, we included baguette rounds from the Collingwood Bread Company that act as a canvas for building the most delicious bite. And, if you’re looking for a gluten free option, The Thornbury Bakery makes a wicked chia baguette. In summary, you can’t go wrong with your accompaniments. Every guest will have a different palate and will find a way to pair the ingredients they love most and maybe even try something new.

There you have it… our guide to shopping local and building an elegant and bountiful cheese and charcuterie board. When assembling your board, have fun with the composition, mix contrasting colours and don’t forget to taste test. With it being just the start of a new season, you’ll have plenty of time to put your cheese and charcuterie skills to the test and showcase the wonderful ingredients and ready-made products that our area has to offer. |E|

Stefanie Richardson is a local writer who shares her love for Southern Georgian Bay communities through her blog —