Learning Charcuterie

As a fan of wine and cheese, there's nothing I love more than charcuterie. While the word charcuterie actually means "cured meats" in French, here in the States we use the word to refer to a board filled with a variety of cured meats, cheeses, nuts, fruits, crackers, bread, olives, or whatever else your heart desires (or is found on one purchased at a winery or restaurant). 

A friend of mine asked me earlier this year if I wanted to attend a fun event later in March and I said yes. I mean, who can turn down a fun event? She bought our tickets and turns out it was for a one-night charcuterie class put on by a former work friend and her best friend. I was pretty pumped for this because friends + charcuterie always makes for a good time. The only thing that would have made it better would have been wine, but it was a class so I digress.

The three-hour class was held on the north campus of Metropolitan Community College in the historic Fort Omaha, by Miranda of Miranda's Cheese Love and her bestie Melissa, the former work friend in question. This campus of MCC has a catering/cooking school so it made sense to have the class there. We walked in to this beautiful sight!

Beautiful sight continued.

We had to bring our own charcuterie board with us, but we were given four delicious samples, a introduction card, a blank piece of paper to take notes, some recipes (more on that later) and a pen, of course. Miranda began the class by talking about the beginnings of charcuterie and about different kinds of cheeses. She explained each sample as we ate them. The samples were as follows, starting in the upper left-hand and going clockwise: Gruyere, Mont Mare, Fontina, and Chevre. We were given some blue cheese and Fromage d'Affinois along the way, as well. 

Here's Miranda giving us instruction on the different samples as we ate them. Yum!

After the cheese lecture, we split off into groups of four. Each group was given instructions to make two of the recipes we were given in our packet. The recipes were: Small batch raspberry or blackberry jam, quick pickles, quick pickled radishes, savory nut mix, and cinnamon sugar candied nut mix. My friend, Dora, and I made the Savory Nut Mix while the other two ladies in our group made Quick Pickles. Since we were in the cooking school, we were given all the items we needed to make the recipes. Dora and I are both fans of spicy, so we put extra cayenne pepper in ours. 


Here's the lovely Dora mixing up our nuts to go into the oven.

While our foods were being prepared, Miranda had us all come back over to the cheese table with our boards, where we got some cured meats and our choice of three different cheeses. The end game with the class is that we would all get to build and take home our own charcuterie. In addition to our choices of cheese and meats, we also got to take some of the things we made that night, as well as some other items that Miranda and Melissa put out for us to adorn our boards.

Cheese pairing suggestions were all at our work stations which I took a picture of for future reference. I mean, I do like to put out charcuterie at parties that I host.

The final reveal of my charcuterie board! I chose and arranged Fromage d'Affinois (similar to brie but softer and creamier), olives, both kinds of quick pickles, small batch raspberry jam, Chevre (a semi-soft goat cheese with a bit of a bite), honeycomb, grapes, Mont Mare, blackberries, dried apricots, cured meat, both kinds of nuts we made, sweet peppers, dried figs, and a sprig of rosemary. Melissa came around later and gave Dora and I a piece of Fontina as well, which is a hard cheese similar to Parmesan or Reggiano. Yum!

If all this wasn't awesome enough, I won a prize for being the first person there. It also came with a piece of chocolate that has long since been eaten. 

Funny story about being the first person. I got there two minutes late because it was on the edge of northeast Omaha. There was nothing in the information about which door to go in so I parked and went into the closest door. I easily walked through the halls and found Melissa in a kitchen where we were excited to see each other. No one else was there yet, which considering I was two minutes late was kind of odd. Melissa went off to see if she could find the others and not long after arrived with the rest of the group. Apparently, they had all gone in a different door (I didn't get the memo?) and were waiting in an area where they had been given name tags. So, due to this fluke I ended up being the "first" person there and therefore won the prize. Dora and I laughed about that, and I sure wasn't going to complain.

This ended up being a lot of fun. I really enjoyed the class, the people, spending time with my friends, sampling tasty cheese, making fun recipes, and, of course, taking home an amazing charcuterie. I was leaving the next morning for Kearney to meet up with my dad and my uncle, so I grabbed a couple of cheap wines from my wine rack and my cheese board to surprise them with it. That's a post for another time, though.

I hope you have a good weekend, friends. The weather has been drastic the past few weeks in its wide temperature ranges, so today's a good day for getting some things done around the house, baking, cooking, and having a glass (or two) of wine. Whatever you end up doing, make sure to have some fun.



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