Cold air is setting in and leaves are falling from the trees. As October drew to a close, I spent quite some time figuring out what to do for this month’s arrangement. The most logical type of board I could come up with for the fall season would be something hearty and abundant. It needs to be full and eye-catching, leaving no room for leftovers. Unlike the candy-filled board last month, I added many more “real food” items.
The play on words ‘Charcu-turkey” is drawn from a book that my manager at work gave me. The book is a compilation of charcuterie board ideas and tips. As much as I’ve improved when working with charcuterie boards, there are still so many things to learn. The trade of arranging food is super subjective, but generally, it can be as wild as your imagination. As an amateur, I’ve got a lot more to learn before my boards are party worthy. So bear with me on my journey of improvement.
Starting from the bottom and going up, the heart of my cheese turkey is its pear body. The brown pear makes a perfect torso, complete with pecan feet, googly eyes, and a Beemster XO beak (described later). The first layer, at the bottom, is ritz crackers. These are super simple and go well with a variety of cheeses. Each layer of cheese will be described as left and right cheeses.
First on the bottom left is Aged Gouda. It’s relatively chewy and has a rich, nutty flavor. It was a quick favorite for the few teachers who sampled the board. It’d fare well with crackers but is delicious by itself. The bottom right cheese is Bruschetta Jack: a soft, flavorful, milky cheese. It tastes similar to sun-dried tomatoes and has hints of herbal essence. The layer above the two cheeses is turkey on the left, and Cherry Pepper ham on the right. The ham was one of the first sides to go when presented to the class: a clear favorite. It has a wonderfully sweet flavor that bodes well with any cheese and cracker. It added a sweetness that the rest of the board had less of.
The next layer up is two different Beemsters. The left cheese is a Beemster XO. It has a rough texture, comparable to tough wax. A larger amount of this remained when I wrapped the board up, it wasn’t too popular compared to the other options. It tastes like a block of Parmesan with a bite. I personally think it at least needed a cracker to tone things down. The Beemster on the right is Smoked Beemster. The flavor is just like any other smoked cheese and has a softer waxy texture. Unlike the other Beemster, it was fairly liked.
The top layer crackers are Sociables: a fun arrangement of crackers with six different shapes. The top left is a cheese called Deer Creek the Doe. It offers a woody and mild taste. Many who tried it paired it with a meat or cracker side. The bright orange cheese on the right is a Sparkenhoe Red Leicester. Though it had a fall-apart texture that melted in the mouth, there wasn’t much to the taste besides a Mild nutty hint, the color is interesting. A natural dye is added to the process of this cheese, causing it to come out with an orange/red tint. To top off the Turkey, a pile of honey roasted pecans was the perfect fall accessory.
All of the items on this board complimented each other well. It really brought to life my vision of a hearty and fulfilling board that fit the theme of November. If you’d like to try making something similar, come check out Kingmas on Plainfield Ave in Grand Rapids. There you’ll find countless cheeses, meats, and other important charcuterie items. I hope to see you on next month’s edition of the Not So Monger.