Charcuterie and cheese. Are they an appetizer? A meal?
They’re whatever you need them to be.
A charcuterie and cheese plate is a break from the norm. It’s an option that allows you to pick through glorious flavors, from savory to sweet, acidic to creamy. You can do this while sipping your favorite glass of wine, conversing casually with your date. It’s not like ordering that fried ravioli and having to stop to eat it before it becomes unappealing and soft. This is leisure.
A well-thought-out cheese board is a beautifully constructed and flavorful piece of work that begs to be admired.
I figured why not bring my wife to get a little deeper into these meat and cheese boards?
First on our excursion was a great little place at 4402 Nelson Rd. that you probably wouldn’t see if you weren’t looking for it. It’s a cute little building set back from the others, and it’s called The Wine Store.
Walking in, you see a nice array of wines from around the world. It’s a modest assortment with a lot of top labels available. Off to the left is the fun area, where wine and wine-eauxs come together. This is a neat little wine bar area offering various varieties of fermented grapes — along with meats and cheeses.
Basically, you get to choose what you want on your plate, and we each chose one meat — a salami — and two cheeses. We wanted a little contrast to the cheese as far as firmness and taste, but the options are completely up to you.
Unfortunately, our first choice — salami with pistachio and lemon zest —wasn’t available (it’s a popular choice), and we had to opt for the Napoli salami, which is seasoned with salt, pepper and a garlic blend. It’s a nice firm and fatty cut, with a hint of spiciness. Our cheeses included the Trillium, which had a brie-like texture, buttery and creamy; and the Los Cameros, a much firmer wheel.
Once you make your choices, the creativity begins, and you’re presented your cheese board.
This particular display utilizes little gherkins, pumpkin seeds, candied pecans, sun dried cranberries, sweet pepper jelly, melt-in-your-mouth fudge and baguettes. Pick and taste at your leisure, change it up, take a sip. We really enjoyed this stop.
The second place on our journey took us just around the corner to Bodega Wine Dive, 3505 Country Club Rd.
This is a pretty place, with high ceilings, a large granite bar, dark accents, wine lockers and diversity of seating. It’s a true upscale joint, with good food and drink, including, of course, the subject du-jour … a cheese board.
My wife and I took our seats at the bar and ordered our drinks. I inquired about the cheese board options and was directed to a guy who works in his own little bricked-in space. It’s his office, his studio. He’s the dude that’s going to take your choices and create something special for you.
We decided to really step it up this time. We were going for the two-meat-two cheese plate, and chose a Dumbarton Blue, a Schnebelhorn firm cheese, prosciutto and calabrese salami.
Bodega uses a different approach to the accompaniments. Along with the baguette, they serve crisp green apple, olives, honey, nuts and pepper jelly. The bleu is robust and funky. If you’re a fan of bleus, this is a winner. Coupled with a slice of prosciutto, it’s so good you can’t get enough.
A cheese board is a great way to bring something different to the table. They offer a variety of flavors, colors and texture, paired with your wine of choice. It’s perfect leisure.
An Extra Dish
Poké Geaux • 4740 Nelson Rd.
Poke Geaux is an amazing and fresh newcomer to Lake Charles.
While it may be “new” to most of us, Poké has its own history. Properly pronounced “poh-kay”, most accounts agree Poké originated from 1800’s Hawaii. There are various recipes, but all involve a marinated raw fish in a “salad.”
I’d never tried Poke before, and I paralleled the idea with sushi. Not even close.
Poké Geaux allows you to create your own rice and seaweed wrap or bowl of rice or greens, proteins like shrimp, scallops, salmon, and even sous vide chicken for those who are afraid of or allergic to raw fish.
Our introduction to Poké included sushi rice, ahi tuna, shrimp, salad greens, crab salad, seaweed salad and garlic crunch. It was all finished with Poké Geaux sauce. We were blown away by the freshness and flavors in a healthy dish. Every bite delivered.