Charcuterie Board at Your Wedding!
One of the popular trends that we are seeing at our wedding venue is a charcuterie table. “Charcuterie” is a relatively new word to my vocabulary introduced to me when one of our wedding caterers told me that they needed a place to set one up for our client's appetizers during cocktail hour. I had no idea what they were talking about! After she explained, I thought, “hmmm. Sounds like “antipasto” to me…. I had to GOOGLE what “charcuterie” meant (can any of us just listen and learn without double checking on our devices any more?…NOT I)
char· cu· te· rie
a delicatessen specializing in dried meats and meat dishes
In fact, it seems many food specialty shops in France have that same "rie" ending in their spelling; boucherie (butcher), fromagerie (cheese shop), crèmerie (dairy shop), boulangerie (bakery).
Where as “antipasto”, a word borrowed from the Italians, includes, not only meat but other bite sized yummies like cheese and veggies, so, actually, I think that what everyone these days is calling a charcuterie board, is actually "antipasto". One of my wedding clients called this sort of food display a “grazing table” - and I like this better, (maybe because I am a farm girl, hah!). Grazing is continuous eating - going back for more, moving around and mingling. Grazing describes the action not what type of food is on the table, though options would still need to be bite-sized and not something you need to sit down with utensils to eat. Can we call it that instead, please?!
Well, either way, I am down for this trend because I LOVE nibbling on all the great flavors and textures this provides AND I am all about display!
In fact, for my own wedding on our farm/ranch in Southern Arizona, we did not have a sit down meal. I wanted food to be displayed on our giant “grazing” table in the formal dining room in the farm hacienda. We provided what we called “heavy hors d'oeuvres”, (just to add another term to the mix…) Choices were varied and plentiful enough for our guests to feel well fed without a formal sit down meal. In addition to cured meats, 3-4 varieties of cheese, fruit, veggies, chutneys and spreads, our caterer provided platters of warm stuffed mushrooms, savory tarts, sliced tri-tip on crostini and a hot soup that was self-served in mugs, perfect for our winter wedding reception! The whole table was so bountiful and colorful that it functioned as decoration itself! I'm all about presentation and though a charcuterie table is beautiful with food alone, I LOVE displays that add different heights and layers and using containers that are antique, rustic and, perhaps, unexpected.
For our display, I employed a variety of containers and platters including a giant wooden spoon that my father had made filled with olives, an antique scale housed pistachios, mesquite slabs from the farm were stacked with salami, family heirloom silver held chutneys and spreads, a tiered platter display with my mother-in-laws Italian plates held fruit and gourmet chips and baskets held crackers and breads.
I used heavy vintage floral frogs to support the weight of caprese skewers (mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and fresh basil leaves, yummmm) and set out all the containers ahead of time with post-its directing the catering staff as to where I wanted things placed and had them add colorful veggies like purple cauliflower, white, purple and orange carrots with greens attached, sugar snap peas and brilliant colored mini bell peppers to all the empty space! Lucky bonus - the peach tree on the farm blooms in February - perfect timing for our wedding!! (those are the pink flowers in the pics!) After our ceremony, guests ate and mingled and danced while food was restocked and the table looked bountiful the whole night!
Mesquite slabs from the ranch, a vintage scale, baskets, old carved spoons and family heirloom silver all became vessels for display.
We have had a few clients offer a grazing table (charcuterie; antipasto…) for appetizers at their wedding here on the farm and one family actually set a small versions at each guest table at the reception! The aunts of the bride pe-set wax paper in the center of each of the round tables - they didn’t bother with platters -then, as guests slowly moved from the ceremony yard to cocktail jour and the reception yard, they quickly placed wedges of brie, salami, nuts, fruits and crackers at each table - no utensils needed - BRILLIANT!
(PS - I have acquired round wood platters on legs for this purpose for clients to use, should they choose which are on small legs so greenery and flowers can be peeking out beneath, when the platter is removed, large candle can replace it for dinner service!)
If building your own grazing table, check out this blog post in The Knot by Sara Hanlon. It has great tips on what to include, links to other experts and even quantity suggestions.
If DIY is not your thing, we are lucky in Tucson and surrounding areas to have a few AWESOME companies that will set up a charcuterie table at your Arizona wedding or other celebration! I LOVE Humbleboard! They are seriously excited about creating their grazing tables! Owner, Emili Krzyzanowski sees her displays as works of art and loves playing with texture, color and flow and equates it to painting a picture. I was so excited when I visited her shop on her website to see that she also offers "to go" charcuterie boxes in different sizes - perfect for a family gathering or maybe, a romantic picnic for two! And has ADORABLE charcuterie cups as an option that guests can pick up and carry as they mingle during cocktail hour. Her website store has details and costs.
At our wedding venue, the cocktail hour near the pool house bar is the perfect spot to set up appetizers. This space is away from the ceremony so your caterer to set up the display while guests are arriving without being a distraction during the ceremony and (VERY IMPORTANT!), guests can't start raiding the goodies until it's time!
TIP - if you are having an outdoor wedding, bugs are usually tucked into bed after sunset (where do they go...?), so have a large piece of gauze or other fabric to protect the display until it's time!
For Tucson area weddings and events, consider hiring Humbleboard to build a gorgeous and delicious grazing table for your guests to enjoy! Then, on a date night after you're married, order one of the charcuterie boxes and enjoy an Arizona sunset together!
Also, our go-to FAVORITE Tucson caterer, who is our partner in our Micro-Wedding Package and our Inclusive "We Got This " package, Cafe a la Carte, C'Art Blanche Catering has a charcuterie table as one of their appetizer options that is to die for! They have so many DELICIOUS appetizer options and I LOVE when they include roasted peppers, squash and artichokes on their boards (they always go above and beyond!).
This mesquite slab was cut from our trees then My husband, Stewart branded it with our cattle brand. Caprese skewers poked into sturdy vintage floral frogs which are strong and heavy enough to hold the weight and were then hidden by piles of veggies and fresh basil leaves. Note the old spoon filled with smoked almonds!
Add some interesting containers to your display. I literally looked around my kitchen and tried to "think outside the box" to select items that would add height, texture and a vintage feel to my table. Here are some suggestions;
use rustic boxes to add height variations, (rough surfaces are hard to clean so use wax paper or cloth napkins)
a vintage scale can hold nuts and fruit
oversized wooden spoons are perfect for olives or nuts
tiered platters and cake stands
vintage silver or brass
What do you think... How about a charcuterie board at your Arizona wedding! What will you call it - charcuterie, antipasto, grazing table? Oh well, either way, it's all GOOD! In fact, writing this post is making me hungry - I might have some cheese and salami in the refrigerator…
Stewart and Laurel Loew own and run Agua Linda Farm in Amado Arizona, 30 minutes south of Tucson. They have worked the land growing vegetables, hay and raising beef cattle. They opened the farm to the public with harvest festivals in the late 90's and began offering the stunning space for weddings and private events in 2010.