Cheese! Wine! Cured meats! Whiskey!
That's me and my wife's ideal Friday night. The only issue is we tend to spend too much money at our favorite stores: Murray's Cheese Bar & Despana.
If you read my review on Murray's Mac & Cheese, you're probably familiar with their main store that I mentioned. If not, it's basically heaven for cheese lovers. They even use the "take a ticket" system (triggers some nostalgia). Murray's really has pretty much anything you need (they make great sandwiches too!) but I like to diversify my options. I like to try different cheeses every time I come in.
Despana! It's a Spanish (straight from Spain) store that specializes in cured meats (they too make wonderful sandwiches). Despana even carries iberico ham (Jamon Iberico) which if you didn't know, can cost you a pretty penny. That's expected since the prized pig has a free-roaming diet of a corns, chestnuts, herbs, and grass. This results in a nice nutty fatty piece of ham. They also have a nice little wine store next door, just in case you're thirsty.
My automatic buy at Despana is their chorizo and salchichon. Without a doubt, some of the best chorizo around in NYC.
Charcuterie boards vary and is somewhat personal. It's a dance between you, your palate, and delicious tapas.
Here is my board:
I'll run you down the list of my yummy Charcuterie Board:
Whole Foods Whole Grain Dijon Mustard
Despana Cured Chorizo
Murray's Fourme D'Ambert (blue cheese)
Champignon Cambozola Black Label (blue cheese)
Murray's St. Mark's
Carrot & Fruit Conserve
NYC Baked Bread
My board was a bit diverse but I lacked a hard cheese which would be a nice texture change. Don't get me wrong, Murray's definitely had options, I was just more focused on soft cheese. I also wasn't a fan of blue cheese until I had those two!
My wife loves blue cheese so of course I had to throw it on the board. Her favorite was the Fourme D'Ambert. Neither of them had that annoying generic blue cheese taste and really opened up my thoughts on how I might've been missing out. Murray's St. Marks came in an adorable red crock in case you want to just bake it when you get home. It's a unique cheese that is nice and gooey, really perfect for those just getting into cheese. It reminded me of a buttery flavored brie but better. It's a definite must buy when I go in there now. Pico Picandine, just wow. Unfortunately I couldn't throw it on the board for the photo shoot because this gooey deliciousness didn't keep it's shape. It just kind of plopped out of it's wooden holder. This amazing spreadable cheese is my new favorite goat cheese. That perfect tang with just the right amount of salt is the best combo for whatever you're spreading it on. It has an earthy and buttery taste. I'm fairly new to goat cheese but this is my favorite so far.
A little sweet dollop of the carrot and fruit conserve, pecans, small drop of mustard, any one of these cheeses, and a perfectly sliced cured meat made the best bites. We quickly ran through that loaf of freshly baked bread!
Now the rules of charcuterie boards are:
There are no rules!
Just be creative and use a diverse selection in texture in flavor. Give your tongue new surprises with every cracker or slice of bread. Try to use something acidic so you can sort of reset that palate (cornichons are perfect). Also, don't forget to pour yourself a nice glass of red wine.
I hope to see your board!