party from a distance illustration by vidhya nagarajan

Build a baller charcuterie board

This is the summer of the picnic. With so many restrictions on events and large gatherings, our social lives have moved almost entirely outdoors. A picnic is an easy alternative to going out that invites a huge amount of creativity. It can entail everything from dance parties and board games to massive takeout meals and platters of home-cooked delights – or it can just mean drinking a six-pack and eating a bag of chips with a friend. 

A good charcuterie board can elevate a meal to celestial levels, or be a meal in itself. But what makes a board great? For one, diversity – an awesome charcuterie board is a symphony of salty, sour, fatty, earthy and fresh flavors, where everything makes sense and no two bites are the same. Good planning and high-quality ingredients are also necessities. Here are some tips on how to turn your picnic into a transcendent feast.

For carnivores, this is the centerpiece of the board. Keep it classic with quality prosciutto, a hard salami and some hot sopressata from local giant Volpi.
Available at most local grocers.

It’s important. A nice board will have at least a few cheeses, usually a good collection of creamy, stinky and hard varieties. The Sauce team feels strongly about Beecher's cheddar, Ossau-Iraty (a nutty, raw sheep’s milk cheese from the Basque region) and the heavenly Brillat Savarin triple creme.
The Smokehouse Market, 16806 Chesterfield Airport Road, Chesterfield, 636.532.3314,

Include something substantial for the vegetarians and vegans in your group. If you don’t have time to make one yourself, you can’t go wrong with summery sides from AO&Co. like creamy hummus, baba ghanoush or rich muhammara.
AO&Co. Market, 1641 Tower Grove Ave., St. Louis, 314.899.0991,

It is berry season, which means very good things for your board. Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and grapes would all be amazing on a summer evening. Farmers’ markets may look a little different this summer, but they are open and offer the fresh, local produce your board needs.
Tower Grove Farmers’ Market,

You must have some kind of carb. Crackers will do in a pinch, but a nice, fresh loaf of any bread from Union Loafers will be better. Order online for curbside pickup.
Union Loafers Cafe and Bread Bakery, 1629 Tower Grove Ave., St. Louis, 314.833.6111,

Wow your friends by adding thoughtful little flourishes like a dollop of strawberry-Champagne jam or Old Bakery beer mustard from Larder & Cupboard (now available for pickup at local farmers markets). Just contemplate your favorite flavors and then make it happen – roast garlic at home, pick up some local honey, live your picnic dreams.
Larder & Cupboard,

A nice picnic is the perfect engagement for maintaining social distance. Luckily, charcuterie kits are easy to make if you want to avoid a communal board. Just buy some foil pans or strong paper plates and divide up the goods. Top with foil and keep cool until you arrive. Tear off pieces of bread for each person in advance and designate a dip distributor to spoon hummus onto everyone’s plates once settled in the park. 

Don’t have time to make your own? Lorraine Gourmet Grazing Boards will do it for you. The local company offers beautiful charcuterie boards in a range of sizes, including mini grazing boxes.