“Cheater” Charcuterie Boards

“Cheater” charcuterie boards.

Charcuterie boards have become popular over the last few years. Anyone who has not been living in a cave knows that. I became absolutely obsessed with creating them a little over a year ago, and I have made lots of different ones with lots of different ingredients.

Sometimes, I want to have people over and serve charcuterie, but I don’t have time to shop for it! What to do? I do what I call a “cheater charcuterie board.” I order from a business in Charlotte that will deliver charcuterie boxes and/or boards to my home with lots of fantastic, locally-sourced ingredients. I was having a crazy week a couple of months ago, but we had friends coming over on a Friday night. I wanted to serve charcuterie, but I didn’t have time to go to the store beforehand. So I searched online with “charcuterie boards, Charlotte,” and I found Off the Block Charcuterie. (If you live in another city, simply search online for “{your city}, charcuterie.” to find something similar in your area.) After perusing the Off the Block website, not only did it appear they offer quality ingredients, but I also discovered they would deliver to my home for no additional charge! Score! And I quickly placed an order.

I ordered their Large Signature Box, which features a selection of North Carolina sourced cheeses and meats plus house-roasted nuts, house-made crackers, and seasonal items. I have now ordered it several times, and the cheese have been plentiful…and included my personal favorites of bleu cheese, brie, and goat cheese. If you don’t like those cheeses, you can specify when you order. The meats have included prosciutto and other cured options. And the seasonal items have been olives, blackberries, orange slices, strawberries, raspberries, figs, and dried apricots…different items on different dates. I have not been disappointed. In fact, I have been absolutely delighted every time I have ordered, and the lady who has delivered to us is lovely. The Large Signature Box is $65, and it serves 5-6 people appetizers. We tend to use it for three or four of us as a meal with wine. Let me mention here that the price also includes the delivery to my home! It’s a bargain!

When the box arrives (on time, every time!) I get out one of my own beautiful charcuterie boards and arrange the items how I want them arranged, and I even add a few of my own favorite items from my own pantry: praline pecans, salted caramel chocolate pieces, and various crackers. (My favorite crackers are Blue Diamond Nut Thins…I usually get the artisan flavors and the almond thins.) Don’t worry. I don’t try to pass everything off as my own. I always own up to the fact that I created a cheater charcuterie board, but everyone enjoys it. I usually wait until I get a compliment on the fresh items on the board, and that’s when I say, “I have to admit it’s what I call a ‘cheater’ board, because I didn’t gather the ingredients myself…”

But that’s not all Off the Block Charcuterie offers. They also offer vegan and vegetarian boards, caviar boxes, crudité boxes, charcuterie cups, and more! At Easter, I ordered a special board from them that included cookies from Honeybear Bakeshop cookies that were fantastic! To see Off the Block’s website, click here. I’m definitely ordering for Easter…and I plan to have quite a few add-ons…maybe some caviar and chocolate.

Everything we have had delivered from Off the Block Charlotte has been outstanding, and every guest has given it rave reviews! Even our very picky teenage daughter loves them. If you would like to assemble your own cheater charcuterie board or would like to order a pre-arranged board full of locally-sourced, delicious, high quality ingredients, place your order now, and they will bring it to your home (in Charlotte) at a time you select! Serve it all with your choice of wine, and voila! You have delicious appetizers or a delicious dinner…however you choose to serve it. We have ordered so many times now that I told our delivery lady yesterday we need to invite her over for drinks one weekend.

Cheers!

***I mentioned my “beautiful” charcuterie boards above. When I say I have beautiful boards, I mean they are gorgeous. A family friend I have known for 45 years retired recently, and he is making charcuterie boards by hand. He makes them from different types of wood and finishes them in FDA-approved finishes, so they are food safe. Seriously, I get compliments on them every time I use one. If you’re interested in one, contact me at kellymattei@msn.com for more information. Photos below. ***

***Again, to see the website for Off the Block Charlotte, click here.***

The King’s Kitchen

The King’s Kitchen.

Yesterday, I met a friend for lunch in Uptown Charlotte. We had been trying to get together for some time, but something always came up. I have a daughter who is a senior in high school, and my friend has three kids…real life sometimes just gets in the way of fun. But we didn’t give up. This friend is one of those friends who “fills my cup,” so it is important to me to make time to see her. She and I had totally different upbringings in different cultures, but we share a bond. We truly enjoy each other.

The last time we were able to have lunch together, we met at a restaurant in the SouthPark area of Charlotte. I remember it well, because she called me before she arrived and told me her zipper had broken in her dress, and she had no idea how she could walk into the restaurant to meet me. I said, “Well, I have a ‘pleather’ Top Gun jacket in my car you could put on over your dress, if if wouldn’t embarrass you.” The jacket is a costume piece I purchased for an event earlier this year, and I just happened to have it in my car. She laughed and said that, if I would bring the jacket to her at her car, she would be happy to wear it just so we could dine together! Who knew a Top Gun pleather jacket could look so good with a yellow dress?! We are a lot alike in that we are low maintenance with a good sense of humor. We laughed and laughed about that pleather jacket!

I had picked the restaurant last time, so this time, it was her turn. Apparently, she did her research and ultimately picked The King’s Kitchen. I had dined there a few times before, but it had been a while. They serve southern cuisine, so I was excited she picked it!

She found better parking than I did when she arrived, so she got there a few minutes early and already had a table when I arrived. We gave each other big hugs, and she had a bottle of Contesse Prosecco waiting…and two glasses waiting, ready to be filled!

And when we started talking, we talked about the restaurant. I knew it was a nonprofit started by Jim Noble (he has outstanding restaurants in North Carolina), and I knew it had some sort of outreach ministry for the homeless. What I didn’t know is that Mr. Noble is an ordained minister and holds a Bible study for the homeless (and I suppose, anyone else who’d like attend) in the restaurant. So if you are so inclined, you can fill up in two ways at The King’s Kitchen…nutritionally and spiritually. Additionally, all the profits from the restaurant go to feed the homeless in the area. But the outreach doesn’t stop there. According to the restaurant’s website, they work with local ministries to “provide job training, life-skills training, social etiquette workshops, financial management guidance, and employment intern opportunities to Charlotteans in search of a new beginning.” Indeed, our server, a lovely young lady, told us she had been homeless for several years. Wow. See the website for The King’s Kitchen here.

As it turns out, when my friend was searching for the perfect place for us to meet, she called the restaurant and asked some questions. When she learned about the outreach ministry for the homeless, she knew we needed to go there. Her oldest son, William, has Down Syndrome, and he and the family organize “William’s Walk” every year in uptown Charlotte. They have a food drive and symbolic walk to benefit Loaves and Fishes and Second Harvest Food Bank around Thanksgiving. This year, the walk is on November 24th, and this year’s walk marks their 20th Annual William’s Walk. For more information, click here. They are accepting food donations now and would love to have lots of participants in the walk! Helping the homeless is a cause near and dear to my friend’s heart.

I should probably mention we had a lovely meal together at The King’s Kitchen. The menu is a la carte. We both ordered the salmon and a side of sauteed spinach, and I ordered an additional order of pan corn for us to share. For dessert, she ordered the chocolate torte cake to take home to her son, and I ordered banana pudding, mostly because I can’t make a good banana pudding myself. When desserts arrived, I offered to share my banana pudding, but she told me she doesn’t eat pudding. I told her I wasn’t going to push her, but banana pudding is a southern delicacy that isn’t the same as other puddings. Growing up in Jamaica and New York, she didn’t have a lot of opportunity to try a good banana pudding. She finally tried it and loved it!

And the bonus? We even got to sit in on a little bit of the Bible study…led by Jim Noble himself! There were quite a few people in attendance…one gentleman I had met earlier when I was looking for parking. Since my friend and I had to exit early from the Bible study, we gave each other nods of recognition as I passed him.

It was a lovely way to spend lunch with a good friend…and help the homeless too.

***cover photo: kingskitchen.org