Mouthpiece

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7 Secrets For Setting A Standout Summer Spread

A bunch of my girlfriends from high school now live in Brooklyn, too, but with our crazy work schedules, it’s often hard to get together. So I like to host monthly dinners to keep us up to date (and laugh at the same jokes we’ve been making since 10th grade). For me, there's nothing better than gathering around food with my closest friends.

While I do love to cook, it always feels like too much work in the summer. Especially this summer – it’s been so hot! So my go-to spread is a sandwich bar loaded with cheeses, cured meats, fresh summer produce, crusty bread and LOTS of chilled rosé. Easy, affordable, and delicious.

Since rosé always tastes better outside, we like to spread out on my deck and watch the sun go down. No outdoor space? No problem! Just lay everything on your dining table or pack the goodies up for a picnic at your local park.

Here are some of my go-to products from Mouth for planning your next great sandwich bar:

CHEESEPick a variety of cheeses, a few crowd-pleasers and something funky for those more adventurous. Here’s an addictive assortment I’ve had success with:

A Barndance: A semi-firm cow's milk cheese somewhere between a soft chèvre and stinky blue.
Cremont: An aged goat-and-cow’s milk cheese with a chewy ivory rind and a creamy, luscious center.
Ewe’s Blue:  A classic French Roquefort whose bite is balanced by sweet, 100% Hudson Valley sheep’s milk cream.

CURED MEATS: This might be my favorite “food group,” so you’re sure to see them on my table. Here are two I can’t live without:

Saucisson Sec French Salami: A traditional French salami with garlic and black pepper. Cut into both thin or thick slices to suit everyone’s individual preferences!
American Prosciutto: An earthy, salty yet sweet prosciutto that melts in your mouth while taking you on a trip to Italy.

SPREADS: You’ll want a few spreads to go with all that tasty cheese and cured meat.

French Onion Confit:  Sweet, jammy slow-cooked onions that will take your sandwich to the next level.
Whole Grain Mustard: This mustard is so crazy good! It’s bright, crunchy and savory.
Mike’s Hot Honey: The perfect combination of sweet and spicy that goes with just about anything!

BREAD & CRACKERS: The vehicle! Slice up your favorite crusty bread (I love baguettes). For those who don’t want to commit to an entire sandwich, stock up on Farmhouse Crisps. These almost paper-thin crispy crackers are loaded with pistachios, seeds, and dried cranberries.

PICKLES & VEGETABLES: To offset the spread above, put out vibrant veggies and vary the colors to enhance the presentation. Pickled veggies also pair nicely with the cured meats, so I like to include the Spicy Dill Pickle Slices from Doux South for crunch and satisfying spice.

WINE: Don’t forget to load up on chilled rosé! Matthiasson 2015 Rosé and Channing Daughters 2015 Rosé di Syrah are exquisite and refreshing standouts.

OKAY, NOW FOR SOME TIPS ON PRESENTATION:

Serving-ware (platters, boards, small bowls + plates) is obviously key. I love this black walnut serving board and rely on lightweight platters from my local cookware shop. I like a variety of mismatched pieces – wood, patterns, different shapes, vibrant colors, stone, etc. It all somehow comes together once the food is out.

While I usually have some sort of vision – cheeses with the hot honey, meats with pickles and mustard, etc. – the layout is always improvised. So every spread is a distinct experience. Start with the big-ticket items (cheeses and cured meats) and then fill the spaces in between with fresh herbs, spreads, olives, really anything.

Final bonus tip: If you’ve got leftovers, use them to top a salad and bring it for lunch the next day. Your coworkers will be jealous!

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