Charcuterie boards seem to be all the rage these days, and for good reason. They are fun, delicious, beautiful, and interesting. And they’re great nibbles for parties.
I, though, have been surprised that they are a new discovery for so many. My whole life, I’d encountered smaller versions of these, from cheese/meat/cracker/grape boards at parties, to my mom’s occasional “I don’t know what to make for dinner” makeshift ones with summer sausage, Gouda or Edam, Stoned Wheat Crackers or Triscuits or Wheat Thins, and something like dried apricots. And they’d always been a staple at dinner parties I grew up going to.
But the charcuterie boards you see floating around these days are pretty fancy. Fancier and with more varied ingredients than the ones I’ve usually experienced, and they also have a fun, “pinkies up” attitude.
Recently, I was able to try a sample of the Platterful company’s charcuterie kits. They have one-off options as well as subscriptions, so there’s something for every size party or household. They sent me a large-sized kit.
What Are the Platterful Kits Like?
Platterful sends, right to your doorstep, most of the ingredients you need to make a tasty and impressive charcuterie board. You’ll need to supply the board, and a few extra fresh ingredients (if desired), but they send you everything else, as well as instructions on a suggested way to set the food up on the board.
They include a card with a labeled diagram detailing all of the items they send. The ingredients are very high-end, and delicious. Think: fancy picnic. Mine included such things as a bold semi-hard cheese, savory hard cheese, mellow soft cheese, sliced salami, crackers, flavored jam, olives, and chocolate bar, among others. It also included two small condiment serving bowls and spreaders, as well as a sturdy wood honey dipper that can be kept and used again. While there were quite a variety of ingredients, the focus was definitely on the cheeses and meats.
The ingredients were shipped in a box, and everything made of glass was wrapped in (maybe-not-quite-thick-enough) bubble wrap (but it turned out okay), and everything cold was packed in with frozen gel packs and wrapped in very cushy thick blanket-y packing. I’m not sure how long it was in transit, but when the box got here, one of the gel packs was thawed but still cold, and the other was still frozen in the middle. The meats and cheeses were still cold, but I did open it up right after it was delivered, since I was home.
Platterful’s website says that this large kit would serve 2-4 people as a meal or 6-8 as a small appetizer. We had three people and ate it as a meal, and ended up with leftovers. So, my estimate would be that it would easily serve four as a meal, and easily serve eight as an appetizer. They include a lot of strong flavors in the ingredients, which we like, but that can also make it easy to stretch the included food into a spread that would serve even more people, perhaps 50% more, with some added bread, fruit, and a couple of other less-strong ingredients.
Where Do They Shine?
The quality of the food is very high and very delicious. The kit was exactly the kind of thing I expected, and we all enjoyed the eating experience.
The video tutorial for how to set up your food items in an attractive design was really helpful. It didn’t matter what size or shape your board was, either. They gave you general guidelines, which you could follow in a way that worked for you and your board.
The ideas in the tutorial really do make for a better visual and eating experience. I never would have thought to ball up the goat cheese. Though it was a lot of work (for my daughter!), the balled-up cheese was a lot less crumbly than the cheese was right out of the package. It was a great way to consume it.
Where Could They Be Improved?
The kit came with a printed guide/diagram that mostly but not entirely matched the food items they sent. It also only gave very vague ideas of how to make the spread attractive. However, the video tutorial linked to via QR code had all the right foods and a step-by-step demonstration.
I felt like there was a real lack of fruit. The kit included fig jam, which was lovely, but the only other fruit they recommended was some fresh-cut strawberries that you needed to supply yourself (a challenge in the autumn months). I think the kit could be improved with the inclusion of some dried fruit, such as apricots or pears, or even just a suggestion to add more of your own fresh fruits, such as apples, more types of berries, or grapes.
The included crackers, while very tasty, were really thin. That made them hard to bite into without them falling apart, since they were laden with dense and chewy meats and semi-hard cheeses. The crackers worked pretty well with the goat cheese and spreads, but a sturdier cracker would have been a great addition to have with the meats and other cheeses.
Advice and Recommendations
My partner, my daughter, and I shared the job of setting this kit up and eating it. We all enjoyed the food, but everyone had their favorites. It was helpful for us to have multiple people eating it (as intended), since our tastes vary a bit (I don’t like olives, for example).
It is a fair amount of work to set the board up, including cutting and arranging cheese, turning the salami into interesting shapes, and even balling the goat cheese up into bite-sized balls. So be sure to allow for plenty of time to assemble it and make it pretty, and have the ability to clean up (balling goat cheese is pretty messy, for example).
Since they don’t send a board with the kits, you’ll need to have something on hand to display all the food. I’m glad that I had a big wooden cutting board that hadn’t seen a lot of use, and it was perfect for this task.
I recommend using sharp knives for slicing the cheeses and the meats. The neater the cut, the prettier the result.
The video setup tutorial recommended cubing the Gouda, but that made it hard to eat on the crackers. Thin slices would have been better.
My recommended additions: a second type of cracker (a sturdy variety), fresh French bread, fresh and dried fruits, and some other milder flavors, to balance out the strong. Pretzels can also go well with the cheeses and the mustard spread.
For this kit, my favorite combo was fig jam on a cracker with a honey goat cheese ball on top, slightly smooshed, with a little honey drizzled on top. It was a delicious mixture of flavors and the textures worked well together.
The price of this large charcuterie kit from Platterful ($99 if via subscription, $114 if a one-off purchase, plus shipping) seems like a lot. It’s definitely outside of our normal food or entertaining budget. But if you tend to prefer or buy these higher end products, the price is right. The individual cost of all of the food items, combined with not having to pick everything out yourself, making sure all the food items are well matched and balanced, and the tutorial of how to make the board look beautiful, makes the price a decent enough value for what you actually get, if you can afford it. Plus, for every box that is purchased, they donate 10 meals to combat childhood hunger in the U.S.
Platterful also makes smaller, less expensive kits as well—the standard size runs $75, or $65/month with a subscription (plus shipping). You can also split up the ingredients over more than one occasion, for small groups, and/or stretch the kit more with additional ingredients that you supply.
I received a sample for review purposes, but all enjoyment of finger foods is entirely my own.