The fresh flavors of spring have a natural home on charcuterie and cheese plates. Crisp pickles and farm-fresh nibbles balance rich meats and cheeses. Add the complexity of sweet, rich honeycomb and you’re in for a real seasonal treat—one that may even have some health benefits.
With such a bounty to choose from, you might wonder where to begin. Consider us your virtual server and sommelier, here to guide you through selecting and pairing every ingredient. We’ll also break down the basics of charcuterie, just in case it’s new to you.
What is Charcuterie?
Boards studded with artisanal ingredients have been trending on social media and at social events over the past several years. You’ll find charcuterie boards, cheese plates, and kitschy candy or snack-based displays labeled #charcuterie.
Charcuterie is defined as a collection of cold, cooked meats. Confit, pâtés, salami, sausage, and bacon are all examples of meats you might find in a charcuterie display. On a charcuterie board, they’re accompanied by cheeses, olives, pickles, and bread or crackers for snacking. And don’t forget the sweet factor. Raw honeycomb brings a balance that’s essential for all of those crunchy, salty, and acidic ingredients.
We make suggestions below for charcuterie in the traditional sense. But, we didn’t forget those of you who are out for a meat-free affair. After all, cheese is just as exciting to eat and pair with honeycomb.
Celebrating spring through charcuterie means featuring ingredients at the peak of freshness. They’re paired with other ingredients to elevate the noshing experience. The addition of honeycomb symbolizes the pollinators we rely on for the seasonal harvest and one-third of our food supply.
The same basic charcuterie guidelines still apply.
Offer a mix of flavors.Include sweet, savory, salty, and acidic tastes. Don’t be afraid of the bitter flavor, either. Think dark chocolate and bitter greens.
Contrast matters. Choose ingredients that lend a unique flavor, texture, and appearance. Foods that might be very one-note or overwhelming on their own may be perfect once paired with something else. Use classic combinations like sweet and salty as inspiration.
Everything should be easy to access. Use serving utensils and consider how you’ll snag bites of soft components like honeycomb when constructing the plate. Even if it's a charcuterie plate for one, you’ll thank yourself once you dig in.
Add visual appeal. As the saying goes, we eat with our eyes first. Layer ingredients, keep things tidy and use garnishes to make it as attractive as it is delicious. Edible flowers like marigolds are an easy way to add a touch of spring.
Keep dietary restrictions and preferences in mind. Offer alternatives or omit ingredients your guests won’t be able to enjoy.
Selecting Meat & Cheese for Spring Charcuterie
The first order of business for any charcuterie board or cheese plate is the protein. After all, it’s in the name.
Two or three meats is a good place to start. It’s similar for cheese—a few different styles offer diversity in texture and flavor. Beyond that, the more, the merrier.
All charcuterie meats can work on your spring charcuterie board. The salty richness plays nicely with other plate partners. Here are some of the usual suspects.
Cheese is also a year-round food, but most fresh cheeses are best enjoyed in spring. This is partially thanks to our friends, the bees, who pollinate the pastures that enrich the flavor of milk produced by cows, goats, and sheep.
Fresh cheeses are creamy and soft, and some are spreadable. All are delightful with honeycomb. Slather some cheese on a cracker and top with honeycomb for the perfect sweet-salty-creamy bite.
Try one or all of these fresh cheeses on your spring charcuterie plate.
- Fromage blanc
- Fresh mozzarella
Contrast soft, mellow cheese with something more complex. A soft rind, slightly aged cheese like brie, camembert, or Humboldt Fog will do the trick.
Round off the trifecta with an aged cheese with robust flavor. They may not all suit your palate on their own, but mature cheeses with deeper complexity like gouda and aged artisanal cheeses provide a savory high note.
There’s a whole world of craft cheese out there. Don’t hesitate to ask your cheesemonger for recommendations.
Using Farm Fresh Ingredients
Charcuterie is a great way to use the vibrant display of fruits and vegetables that erupt from the earth in springtime. With some simple preparation, whatever may be in season in your area will be ready to delight your senses.
- Most fruits like apples, pears, and berries can be sliced or plated as-is.
- Root vegetables and seasonal greens can be picked, roasted, or sliced thin.
- Lightly toast nuts and seeds to bring out their best flavor.
The flexibility of fresh produce preparation makes these ingredients ideal for filling gaps that balance out your charcuterie plate.
The Best Wine For Spring Charcuterie
The right bottle of vino can bring a lot to your charcuterie or cheese course. Decant one of these wines while you perfect your plating.
- Unoaked chardonnay
- Cava (Spanish sparkling wine)
What to Pair With Honeycomb
There isn’t much that doesn’t mesh with honeycomb. Eating honeycomb with protein and fiber is optimal for blood sugar balance, and it harmonizes salty, astringent, and savory flavors. When it doesn’t belong in the same bite, try it as a palate cleanser. Comb and pickles may not be a winning combination, but it could depend on the type of pickle. Don’t be afraid to try honeycomb with something new. Branch out. Be bold.
If you’d rather start with tried-and-true honeycomb pairings, here are some favorites.
- Smoked almonds
- Apple slices
- A simple, salty cracker
- Dark chocolate
Keep in mind that honeycomb offers more than sweetness. Because it’s raw and unaltered and contains edible wax, the flavor and texture are more complex. You may even detect bitter and astringent notes. Honey tasting can be just as interesting as wine tasting. We developed a honeycomb tasting guide with a sommelier to walk you through the experience. Try it before your next charcuterie or cheese plate so you can fully enjoy all the flavors present in your honeycomb.