The classic meat and cheese tray has a long and rich history.
Technically, one could argue that our idea of a meat and cheese tray originated from the French creation known as Charcuterie.
That online fount of all knowledge, Wikipedia, notes that,
“Charcuterie is a French term for a branch of cooking devoted to prepared meat products, such as bacon, ham, sausage, terrines, galantines, ballotines, pâtés, and confit, primarily from pork. Charcuterie is part of the garde manger chef’s repertoire. Originally intended as a way to preserve meat before the advent of refrigeration, they are prepared today for their flavors derived from the preservation processes.”
Traditionally, charcuterie was primarily limited to pork and pork-based products. However, other meats are often included as well as other items that can complement them.
While it may be a bit more prosaic, we usually refer to the end result as “meat and cheese” trays here in the United States. And at Cal Mart, we have a few easy meat and cheese tray ideas for you.
Some Great Ideas for Memorable Meat and Cheese Trays
One of the great things about meat and cheese trays – or charcuterie boards – is that they are truly multinational. Meat and meat products can be used from all over the world to create dazzling mixes of tantalizing tastes and textures.
And it should be approached as something of an art, as one website points out,
“Cheese and charcuterie boards are an art form that involves much more than throwing some cheeses and crackers on a plate and serving it to guests – it’s more than just a meat and cheese board. … It’s the art of assembling meats and cheeses accompanied by fruit, nuts and crackers for easy and quick hors d’oeuvres.”
Thinking again about the noble origin of our modern meat and cheese trays, it’s important to keep in mind that the word “charcuterie” originated in France and translates to “pork-butcher shop.” However, according to one source, while the original term refers to pork, today’s “meat and cheese” boards can include other types of food, such as duck, goose, chicken, cheese, toast, fruit, or other options – such as cheese!
One great idea is to make a “healthy” meat and cheese tray alternative.
Traditional ingredients tend to lean on the side of processed meats, fatty cheeses, and lots of carbohydrates. But with a mixed variety of these selections, you can have an appetizing yet healthier meat and cheese tray.
Try using some of the following:
- blue cheese
- sharp white cheddar
- sliced turkey
- uncured salami or pepperoni
- hummus and pita bread
- whole wheat crackers
- flaxseed crackers
- red and green grapes
- green and kalamata olives
- grape tomatoes
- dried apricots
- strawberry chia jam
Another easy idea for a special meat and cheese tray is to go local.
When you shop at Cal Mart for your tray items you will find a wide and varied selection of local gourmet cheeses, locally sourced meats, and plenty of locally grown fresh produce along with unique and interesting local specialty foods.
And, for a fitting wine country touch, arrange it all on a wine barrel stave serving tray!
Give your meat and cheese tray an international flair.
We tend to think of France when we hear the term charcuterie and there are plenty of dried and smoked meat varieties from that country – not to mention cheese! And Italy, of course, is known for its amazing array of sausages and meat products. Italy is a country also known for its great variety of cheeses, from the soft cheeses such as mozzarella to harder varieties like Parmesan.
And the wines to go with your tray? These countries offer plenty to choose from!
But other cultures, such as Spain, also offer up a tasty selection of sausages, dried meats, and cheeses. And while we’re at it, don’t overlook the possibilities with Chinese and other Asian culinary traditions, such as Isaan sausage from Thailand or Chinese lap cheong dried sausage.
Your Napa Valley Gourmet for Meat and Cheese Tray Supplies
Located in the bustling center of Calistoga, California, Cal Mart is conveniently positioned between Hwy 128 and the wine country’s Silverado Trail, making it also a conveniently easy-to-find stop for locals and travelers.
Cal Mart’s employees are understandably proud of the large variety and large selection of our gourmet cheeses. They include delicious cheeses from around the world and from our own, local cheesemakers.
And the variety includes the types and origins of our cheese.
We have a superb selection of cheeses made from goat and sheep milk, as well as cow’s milk and even mixtures. From hard cheeses to soft cheeses, for mild, dry, and sharp cheeses, raw cheeses, or fancy choices such as blue mold or white mold cheeses, we have something that will fit your preference regardless of what direction your taste in fromage takes you.
As a family-owned and independent grocery store, Cal Mart has provided a unique, enjoyable, and memorable shopping experience for our customers for over half a century.
And we firmly believe that this is a big part of why we are known as “Napa Valley’s Finest Grocery.”
In addition to our gourmet cheese selection, we also offer a wide variety of quality wines and craft beers, along with specialty foods items that are unique and hard to find, and beautiful gift baskets. We invite you to make it a point to drop in and take time to explore all that we have to offer.
And while you’re here, please feel free to talk with our knowledgeable staff and then treat yourself to a cup of coffee or tea from our Coffee Bar.
At Cal Mart, you will always find something that is unexpected, unusual, and uncommon!