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Snack boards and charcuterie are trending, and why wouldn’t they be? On a board about the size of a baking sheet, you can set up a culinary experience that hits every taste bud and offers something for every guest at your party. Or, in pandemic times, every member of your immediate family.
Popular how-tos online suggest loading your boards with a variety of textures that tick the boxes of flavor – along with the requisite meats and cheeses, you also need something sweet, something salty, and something sour for your Arkansas charcuterie board.
There are lots of options at the local grocer’s, to be sure, but if you can find everything you need from local Arkansas makers and vendors as well. Take a look at Arkansas Food Blogger Debbie Arnold’s DIY charcuterie post, then dive into the list below to create the best-tasting gift box or holiday snack spread ever.
As long as it’s food-safe, anything goes. Silver platters, recycled leftover marble from your countertop, vintage TV trays missing their legs… but wouldn’t you rather invest in one of these gorgeous handmade boards from Arkansas woodworkers?
Vintage Barrel Company makes heirloom-quality home décor using recycled wine casks from California and whiskey barrels from Kentucky. Rumor has it they pair well with that $8.00 bottle of wine in your fridge.
Blue Mountain Woodworks is a father and son team creating museum-worthy cutting boards, serving pieces, and other products using native hardwoods, including walnut, cherry, red and white oak, hickory, ash, maple, and aromatic cedar.
Arkansas has a proud agricultural heritage and is home to many small farms intent on reviving the art of raising grass-fed beef, pork and chicken to sell in small batches to restaurants and at farmers’ markets. We are also home to some larger producers who have been making tasty treats for generations. Take your pick!
Natural State Jerky is producing some mighty tasty treats and shipping worldwide out of Northwest Arkansas. (Check out their subscriptions if you have a carnivore on your gift list this year!)
Petit Jean Meats has been an Arkansas institution for almost 100 years! They can provide just about any kind of meat you want to put on your charcuterie board, and it’s probably available at your local grocer, so you can save on shipping and be sure to have it by Christmas.
Just like Arkansas meat producers, local dairies have been making some outstanding (and award-winning) cheeses. Most can be found at local markets, but there are a few carried by larger grocers. While most of them are in the northern half of the state, I believe cheese is as good a reason as any for a road trip. For your Arkansas charcuterie board, choose something spreadable, something for slicing, and maybe get fancy with something baked.
Sweet Freedom Cheese has a lovely shop in Bentonville where you can pick up your online order. And if you are overwhelmed by just thinking of making a snack tray, they’ll be happy to make one for you! When things are back to normal, be sure to check out their classes – I’m definitely going to schedule a date for their Fondue for Two!
White River Creamery makes cheese at their micro dairy near Fayetteville using milk from cows and a happy herd of Nigerian Dwarf goats. It’s sold primarily at farmers’ markets and local Harp’s Foods stores in northwest Arkansas, but you can also find it at Whole Foods in Little Rock and Garden Girl Farm Fresh Produce in Pleasant Plains.
You could eat your meats and cheeses with your fingers or a fork, like a heathen, but when there are so many tasty cracker and bread options, that seems like a shame, doesn’t it? Spread the local maker love around a little. You’ll be glad you did.
Dempsey Bakery in Little Rock makes all kinds of delicious gluten-free goodies, and quite a few of them would look fabulous on your charcuterie board. If you buy their Cheese Bites, be sure to get two bags because you’ll want some for later. They have some sweet options as well, like Gingerbread Men and Shortbread Cookies!
Janis & Melanie is a family business packed full of sweet and savory treats that will quickly become a tradition for your holiday parties. They may be best known for their Cheese Straws, but they have SO much more to offer. Tip: J & M is another spot to get your sweet tooth taken care of!
Moonlight Mixes is better known ‘round these parts as the source of their soon-to-be-world-famous Wicked Mix and Wicked Minis. If your Arkansas-born charcuterie doesn’t include some of their mixes and seasoned crackers, you’re just doing life wrong.
Sweets on the Arkansas charcuterie board can come in many forms. Fruits are always a healthy option (finger-sized goodies like grapes and berries are best), but a couple of ramekins full of homemade jams and jellies are a great option as well. And you’ll find that almost any cheese tastes amazing topped with a tiny dollop of jam. Add a slice of fresh jalapeno and you’ll seriously wonder how you lived before that bite.
House of Webster has been spreading joy since 1934. The company began when Roy Webster started selling milk, cakes, doughnuts, pies and other delicious items baked by his wife as he worked his local newspaper route. Behind every great man… amirite ladies? You could actually build a pretty substantial charcuterie snack situation just from the House of Webster store, but I’m not telling you what to do.
War Eagle Mill is well-known for their annual craft fair, but they are an excellent source of house-ground grains and baking mixes and tasty jams, jellies, fruit butters and syrups as well. And consider them another one-stop-shopping option because they will also satisfy your need for some tangy, pickled treats.
Honeyton Farms honey is another delicious option for your board. Drip it across a little cheese, or maybe mix it with a few spicy nuts. They also sell a creamed honey with cinnamon (what!?) and honey with the comb included for all you fancy foodies. And honey is good for you!
Now that you have all the sources you need for your Arkansas charcuterie board, just have fun! Send this list to your friends or family and schedule a Facetime or Zoom call to compare your creations. The best thing about this plan is that you’ll get to eat all the goodies yourself! Happy New Year indeed!
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