One could say charcuterie boards have become an art form—and Kristen McCoy is a charcuterie board artist.
The owner of Crumb & Cow, a small company specializing in charcuterie boards, platters, grazing boxes and tables, McCoy turned her “fun and creative outlet” into a brand.
As a hostess who frequently crafted charcuterie boards for her guests, she soon realized she wasn’t the only one browsing the cheese section before a gathering. As these became staples at her parties, she noticed artfully designed boards covered with cheeses, meats, spreads, fruits and nuts emerging as a trend across social media. Not everyone has time to head to the store and scour for the perfect board items, though, so McCoy jumped at the business opportunity.
“We step in and take over the stress and hassle for them,” she says.
While COVID-19 has changed Crumb & Cow’s business model, McCoy says customers are still reaching out to order boards and boxes for virtual gatherings or smaller, socially distanced events.
Crumb & Cow puts the items together in their commercial kitchen in Delaware and offers local delivery in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Customers can choose from boxes in a variety of sizes, plus larger boards and gathering tables. McCoy also offers s’more boxes for parties with a sweet tooth and picnic styling for those who want to throw an outdoor feast.
Most items need at least 48 hours’ notice and are completely customizable based on dietary restrictions, allergies and personal preferences.
For those who want to try their hand at charcuterie board artistry, McCoy offers some tips and tricks, plus her advice on how to gather safely in the era of coronavirus.
When it comes to selecting the right cheeses for your board, McCoy suggests offering guests a variety. You want to appeal to everyone’s palate, so choose two to three ranging in texture, milk type and taste.
For the holidays, McCoy recommends a goat cheese, as many are rolled in dried fruits, nuts or herbs. A mild cheese, like a brie, is almost always a hit and can be dressed up with nuts or baked in a puff pastry.
Just like the cheeses, McCoy recommends two to three meats to serve on your charcuterie board. The wintertime is perfect for items like peppered salami and prosciutto.
McCoy says not to worry about how each meat pairs with each cheese, since part of the charcuterie board experience is mixing and matching flavors. “Nothing really ‘goes’ with one thing or another,” she says.
Now, it’s all about finding the perfect accoutrements to the meats and cheese. McCoy suggests picking a few dips and spreads, and then adding nuts, dried fruits or olives to go the extra mile. During the holidays, even sweet touches like peppermint bark are welcome.
Placing everything onto the board can seem intimidating, but it’s easiest if you map it out (literally) or start with your dip bowls and then place everything around them. McCoy says she likes the items on her boards to overlap, getting rid of any empty space.
“The whole thing is making it an adventure,” she says.
For the crackers or small toasts, McCoy selects a variety and places them in a separate basket next to the board.
Right now, the charcuterie board isn’t the most important thing at the party. Instead, it’s the safety precautions.
McCoy suggests providing guests with toothpicks or disposable individual tongs to pick items off the boards, so no one touches the food with their hands. She also recommends taking the party outside with heaters and blankets so there’s adequate airflow and space to socially distance while staying warm.
If you must hold a gathering indoors, she recommends giving guests a heads up so they can bow out if they feel uncomfortable and to make sure there is proper social distancing for the guests who do attend.
No matter where you hold your gathering, it may still be recommended to limit your guest list, so you might need to let some friends and family know they’re on the “naughty list” this year but will be invited back next year, she says. HC
For the most up-to-date COVID-19 guidelines, visit cdc.gov/coronavirus. To find out more about Crumb & Cow or to order a charcuterie board, visit CrumbandCow.com.