as promised from our housewarming party post, i wanted to share how we setup our massive charcuterie table. it took a lot of brainstorming for different ways to create mass, foods that would be super cheap, and little finishing touches to make it extra special and extra pretty.
arrange your layout
first off i covered the folding table with serving trays, cheese boards, bowls from pottery class, pretty little ramekins, and played around with how they’d all fit together. we could have easily skipped the trays and set out all the food straight on the table, but this way it created varying heights and backdrops.
shop and source and schedule
consider perishables and when you can start shopping for what. in order to not have to do huge shops and to get the best deals as we saw them, we slowly started acquiring foods for a few weeks leading up to the party.
when we saw affordable crackers and breadsticks and other items we knew would last, we’d snatch them up but would just check out prices and inventory for the things we couldn’t buy yet. this way the week of, i knew where to go for salami, where to get the micro greens, etc.
go to the cheap stores first, and the expensive stores for finishing touches. i got a huge box of figs for $5 at TJs and we splurged on some fancy meats and cheeses at the italian deli.
pickle everything yourself
to save a whole bunch of money and make a bunch of food to serve, we pickled everything a few weeks prior to the party. i got 10 large jars at the dollar store and we went to the farmers market to get all sorts of produce — we pickled carrots, green beans, watermelon rind, four types of cucumbers… i’d give you the recipes but we sort of winged it. we went to the local spice store and got a bunch of spices he recommended for pickling and sort of just threw different variations into the brines.
if you have a mandoline, use it
especially crucial for pickling, we got a mandoline for a wedding gift two years and i finally learned how to use it. the day of, i used it to chop a dozen radishes in one minute, which were a big help for mass and color.
think beyond meats and cheeses
almonds ended up being so paramount for filling in the gaps, but we also just laid out sprigs of rosemary, dates, fig jam, various mustards and salts. we had a bunch of different fancy salts from a birthday gift, so we filled up the bowls with them (and poured the leftovers back into our salt vessels after the party).
i bought a set of these wood spoons that we placed in various bowls, they’re perfect for tasting and mini serving spoons so i think i’m going to get a lot of use out of them.
go through your drawers and collect any cute little knives, spoons, serving utensils and just spread them out. it also looks super cute when you stick a knife right into your harder cheeses.
start with the basics
place items in different styles. you don’t want neat little rows going all the way down the table. it looks better if you switch between orderly and chaotic, red and then green. salty next to sweet and crunchy crackers next to soft cheese.
even though its a spread with 100 different things, people should be able to stand in one place and get just about every category of food available. have a meat, a cheese, a veggie/pickle, and some mustard or salt all within reach of each location.
there are no rules! make a cool pillow of greens and lay your prosciutto on top of that. have things spilling out of their containers (you can see we had grapes spilling out of a dansk butter warmer). we used the trays to set up our initial composition but went completely off them and onto the table.
garnishes and seasoning
garnish the blank spots. edible flowers and micro-greens help you keep things looking full and also pretty. don’t sprinkle any garnish too lightly or it will look messy, but instead make substantial piles and arrangements with the garnish like you do with the other foods.
also some herbs de provence sprinkled on top of your olives, nuts, pickles make a big visual difference.