Holy moly! It’s the FINAL ‘For the Gram Restaurant Reviews’ of 2020! Where did the time go?!
For the month of December, we reviewed some luxurious charcuterie boards! Meat and cheese plates have always been around but now you can go to almost any restaurant and order them – they have become a social phenomenon!
But what makes them so popular anyways? The creativity aspect. Essentially, charcuterie is the art of preparing meats which are often cured or smoked and paired with a variety of items. These items can be pickled vegetables, nuts, fruit, spreads, jams, and more – the sky is the limit! It’s also enjoyable to have a lot of different textures, colors, and flavors. Salty, sweet, savory, and even spicy! Depending what time of year it is, it’s also nice to bring in seasonal items. Right now we’re in the holiday season so you could throw some cranberries on to make it festive! I’ve even seen chocolate land on a charcuterie board!
My guest judge for this month was Amber Hall. Before we commenced the tastings, we went through what we thought makes a great charcuterie board:
-the crackers and bread: You can have the ultimate meat and cheeses, but you need a good starch to scoop it up with! I feel like this is the number one thing I look for in a charcuterie board. The starch is a critical building block so that you can assemble all the layers. I personally love bread but crackers are good too. The ratio of bread to meat and cheese is also crucial as you want to make sure there is enough bread/crackers for how many toppings there are.
-Variety of color and textures: As mentioned above, the more variety of colors and textures, the better. People love to have options. If there are gaps in your board, you can easily fill it. For a spicy option, a jalapeno jelly is awesome! For something sweet, some beautiful grapes or other fresh fruit. Savoury, obviously the meat and cheese. And for salty, some salty nuts or even something briny like pickles!
-Presentation: We eat with our eyes first! The fun part about charcuterie boards is how you put it together. It starts with picking a great board. Traditionally, we see charcuterie boards on a wooden board but other materials that make the best charcuterie boards include kitchen slate, marble, or evening a cutting board!! Lol. Bowls or little jars help if you have a spread to keep it tidy and any fun garnish can make it look great! An example would be slicing apples or even spreading some thyme since it’s Christmas right now.
Let’s review where we went!
Oak & Cru
Our first stop was at Oak and Cru in the Delta Grand Okanagan! You’ll probably remember we came to Oak and Cru for my second For the Gram Restaurant Reviews for Eggs Benny! You can check out that blog here.
When we came to Oak and Cru for this tasting, they had just opened up their “fire deck” so we could watch Chef David prepare our charcuterie boards right in front of us, but were still protected with plexi glass (Covid). Watching Chef prepare the board made me remember why I love Oak and Cru so much. Everything is so fresh and made to order. I was pleased to find out they used many local ingredients, one of them being cheese from Perseval Cheese Kelowna. Presentation wise, Chef prepared the charcuterie board on a marble slab which created a more elegant look. Some interesting items he served us were apple butter and an onion chutney! Taste wise, their charcuterie board had a lot of sweet components. So if you’re into having sweet notes, this would be right up your alley. Oak and Cru also served crackers with their board as opposed to bread. Have you seen rainbow crisps at the store? I always buy those for charcuterie boards at home but Oak and Cru actually makes theirs in house! So impressive! It was a solid round one.
Salt & Brick
Our next stop was at a funky little spot called Salt and Brick! If you’ve ever been to Salt and Brick, you must take a photo! It’s is the most instagrammable spot – they have a wicked neon light and vibrant floral wall paper. What’s unique about Salt and Brick is that they’re a tapas inspired restaurant with their menu changing daily. Ironically, they used to be called Salted Brick when they first opened because they were focused on their meats and charcuterie boards! Then in 2018, they rebranded to what it is now which is called Salt and Brick!
Now onto the board. Presentation wise, Salt and Brick’s charcuterie board was served on a glass board and offered local cheese from Village Cheese Co from Armstrong. They also did the opposite of Oak and Cru and served bread with their charcuterie board instead of crackers. We also noticed that Salt and Brick’s board was primarily savory with only one sweet item. Personally I’m more a savory person so I enjoyed that aspect! All the items were also super approachable, there were no items too out of left field. Some of the stand outs were the grainy mustard and the smoked candied nuts. If you were trying to acquire a palette for charcuterie boards, this would be a great first board to try!
Our final stop was at another familiar stop, Micro! We went to Micro in the early part of summer to review their stellar margarita! If you missed that blog, check it out here!
I really wanted to include Micro for this challenge because Micro is KNOWN for their charcuterie boards (and stiff cocktails 😉 ). What I like about Micro is that they have an exclusive menu catered to their charcuterie boards so you can pick what you want! What type of bread you want, tapas, meats, cheeses, and more. This is great if you’re not into certain foods (for me, I don’t like pate so I will always leave that out).
Micro’s was the first (and last) board presented on a wooden slab! When I picture a charcuterie board in my head, Micro’s is exactly what I think of. Our board came with lots of pickled vegetables and and cheese from Illichmann’s here in Kelowna. The notable items for me were the pickled vegetables and garlic salami!
If you’re looking to customize a board when you go out, I would highly recommend Micro!
And that includes the Charcuterie Board month! Yum they were all so good. I wanted to mention one more restaurant whose charcuterie board I also love (but didn’t feature). It’s Eldorado’s! The picture you see at the very top of the page is theirs. I really enjoy their charcuterie board as well but I’ve already been there for two other challenges and wanted to explore other restaurants!
Charcuterie is so fun because there’s so much flexibility. You can make it as an appetizer and bring to a party (cough cough small gathering right now) or have it for dinner, a picnic, or whatever you want. And you can make them super elaborate or you can keep it casual and throw it on a cutting board as I mentioned. It’s a win win!
Thank you so much for following along December’s challenge, and I will see you guys in 2021!!