Charcuterie boards are the perfect "share plate" of the summer. Excellent to share with company or to indulge with a special someone, to pique your appetite or tide you over between wine tastings, or to play with unique flavour combinations while you kick back and enjoy a delicious beverage.
Charcuterie boards, in their purest form, typically showcase a variety of cured meats, cheeses, spreads and pickles, and are served with crackers or bread. The flavour spectrum and contrasting textures ensure that there's always something for everyone!
A *great* charcuterie board though, will be carefully thought out, often with seasonal, homemade ingredients or high-quality imports. The creator of the charcuterie board might even specifically pair their selected meats or cheeses with a particular condiment, or they might provide a variety of delicious small bites so that you may "choose your own adventure" so to speak. Below are my five must-try charcuterie boards in town, and the flavour combinations of umami, salty, sweet, sour and spicy will have you constantly going in for more (until you scrape that last morsel from the board!).
We know and love Waterfront Wines for their undying commitment to all that is homemade and local. Their charcuterie board is no different than the rest of their menu, in that they make everything possible in-house. It features their (all homemade) melt-in-your-mouth Wild Moon Salami and Coppa, spicy grainy mustard, seasonal sweet spread and their fresh baked bread and crackers. The only things *not* made from scratch in their kitchen are the olives (fair enough) and the selection of cheeses (many of which are made locally, and some of which are imported). Overall, their charcuterie is an exciting melange of Okanagan flavours and European traditions that would not be out of place in an Italian bistro. Now, which wine to pair it with?
This sweet little spot, tucked in on Bernard, is a diamond mine of house-cured charcuterie. Upon walking inside, you'll see their fridge shelves stocked with interesting meats, cheeses, preserves and spreads - all homemade. Keep looking around, and you'll see the little space near the back with their meats artfully hanging and curing. Salted Brick offers all of their creations on their charcuterie and cheese boards, and you can do a platter devoted to either or do half and half. They have a spectacular happy hour too, with great deals on drinks, and the cheese & meats combo is just $10.50 (that's from 3-6 every day!).
You'll definitely see some delicious meats that you know and love, like chorizo and salami, but their rotating seasonal menu also has some specialty items you're not likely to find anywhere else: beef tongue and rabbit terrine, for example. Try the terrine with the Toscana cheese and a shmear of their date spread, on top of the fresh bread (freshly made from the Bread Co, right down the street). You can taste the passion in every bite.
Take the scenic drive down Lakeshore to try this incredibly special offering from one of our most beloved wineries. Their charcuterie board features some exceptional locally made meats with some stand-out homemade items too. Right now, they're featuring Two Rivers Specialty Meats Beef Bresaola and Tuscan Salami, house-made duck parfait with cherry-merlot glaze, pickled veggies and housemade mustard, all to be devoured on the homemade focaccia crostini. The unique pairings on the cheese board alone are worth the drive; the Poplar Grove Tiger Blue cheese paired with the "M" gel - a sweet condiment made from Cedar Creek's Madeira-style aperitif - will have all of your senses going. You'll also love the Village Cheese Co. 10-year Cheddar with poached pears. Its a perfect spectrum of the many flavours that make our Okanagan so wonderful, and you simply can't beat the view.
When sitting on Kelowna's largest waterfront patio, charcuterie is an excellent choice to sit and nibble while you enjoy the sunshine, the view of the lake and a craft beer or local wine. Their Artisan Deli Board features a whole spectrum of cheeses, meats and other delicious bites! You'll find Two Rivers Elk Chorizo tucked in with decadent Italian Fior de Latte cheese, Little Qualicum raclette and a generous portion of marinated olives, all served with house pickles, crackers and fresh forno flatbread. The flatbread comes straight out of their pizza oven, giving this charcuterie board signature Smack Dab flair. It's the perfect excuse to slow down and enjoy some "new classics with big bold flavours!"
Train Station Pub
The Train Station Pub downtown has put together a funky Vintner's Board that goes perfectly with their laid-back vibe and craft beer list. They've embraced the charcuterie tradition by including meats from Kelowna's Helmut Sausage and cheeses from Terroir Cheese, but they've also added their own unique elements that make it a must-try this summer. The grilled pita bread and wonton crisps are perfect for dipping into their vibrant homemade carrot hummus, and the variety of fruits, seeds, olives and pickles keep every bite fresh and exciting. Chef April's twist on the classics, and excellent local choices for meats and cheeses, make this Vintner's Board one that you don't want to miss.
All of these local charcuterie boards represent a huge labour of love. Into every piece of sausage, cheese, pickle and bread has gone days, weeks or months of culinary creativity and expertise. Chefs have sacrificed what might be "easy" for what is fresh, local, exciting and delicious; and for that we applaud them. Next time you #treatyoself to a delicious spread like this, give a "cheers!" to the farmers, cheese makers, butchers and chefs all over the Okanagan that have put it together for you!
Kelowna born and raised, Keddy Pavlik of TheTreatLife has been passionate about the local food scene basically since birth. If she's not in the kitchen, you can probably find her at the farmer's market or taking pictures of food. Photo Credit: Jordana Dickson.