Lately, I have been a little lax as a blogger. There are certain ventures that have pulled me away from my writing duties, such as planning for the launch of The Root (my hopefully soon to be realized fry cart) as well as a few other non-food related writing assignments. (i.e. Boresville U.S.S.R.)
But there’s another thing that I’ve had the honor of being involved in over the last few months that really has me excited.
Sometime around June, I got a message from an old friend of mine that I knew back in junior high school. The recently named Editor and Creative Director of an upstart, locally based magazine called The Lakelander. She knew of my love for food through a mutual friend of ours. It was then requested that I share some recipe ideas for their inaugural issue. To my surprise and extreme exuberance , my entry made the cut and was published in issue #1.
I thought I had reached my zenith as a professional food writer. Then I received another message asking if I would be interested in catering a photo shoot for issue #2. Of course I would be! What kind of dumb question is that? Who are you talking to? Me?
At first it was going to be a grand family style feast, but after discussing site and logistics, mainly if there was going to be an oven nearby, (there was not) it was decided a far less formal dinner would be proper. We decided on a spread that turned into a cross between a giant cheese/charcuterie board and a nice communal outdoor picnic.
It went over so well that the directors of the shoot decided to use some of my spread in their spread. See what I did there? I said spread twice in the same sentence. Take a look at some of the amazing work done by photographer Tina Seargent and the crew at The Lakelander. It inspired me to share some of my thoughts and ideas on how to put your own version together.
photo credit: Tina Seargent
Everything begins with the cheese. You have to have a fair balance to entice every kind of eater, especially if you don’t have a clue who you’re feeding. The cheese is the anchor to which all other items in your meal have to be in subjection. You pick your cheese and then you have this conversation with yourself about everything else. “Does this pair perfectly with any of my cheeses?” The answer has to be yes or I will throw you away faster than Swedish furniture assembly instructions.
1. A nice creamy Brie
photo credit: Tina Seargent
It might seem cliché, but the main reason to use this as your centerpiece is that it just looks fantastic when you take a chunk out of it and it begins to cave in on itself and ooze out on the board. Not to mention the obvious deliciousness and flexibility of flavor.
5. Aged Cheddar
No matter how picky a person is, I’ve never seen anyone turn down a decent piece of Cheddar. Those are the top of the pops. Congratulations, I’ve done all the work for you.
You must seek out, locate and hold on to the following things.
1. A pickle guy
2. A cured meats purveyor
3. A competent baker
4. Knowledge of how to put things in jars and bowls.
Now that you’ve completed training. Here’s the full line-up for you to recreate or riff off of. You’ll require:
1. All the cheeses mentioned above
2. A jar each of pickled okra, asparagus, beets, and green beans
3. Prosciutto, Speck and Salamis of varying shapes and size, sliced thin
4. Many loaves of crusty baguette with a literal ton of the best Butter you can find, whipped with duck fat
5. Grain Mustard, Local Honey, Fruit Pastes or Chunky savory Jams, and Roasted Nuts
6. A killer Dessert. I actually used my sticky Toffee Pudding which can be found here (STP)
Look, I can’t literally put this all together for you. Well, for a nominal fee I may be interested. Anyway, the key to making this a success if you plan on really going for it one day is all in the presentation. Use lots of wooden cutting boards to serve your main components. Put your condiments in mason jars and antique bowls. Just let everyone figure out their own way of constructing a plate and don’t forget the wine.