This summer make like the Italians and opt for simple, stylish and stress-free holiday entertaining. This week Essteele consults award-winning Fourth Village Providore Peter Quattroville on his approach to building the perfect cheese, meat and antipasto board. Peter’s Mosman-based, family-owned institution on Sydney's lower north shore is the perfect destination to stock up on high-quality fresh produce, handmade products from the Quattroville family's farm, and a selection of local and Italian cheeses from the floor-to-ceiling selection in the dedicated cold room.
With over 40 years of experience in creating crowd-pleasing party food for his customers, Peter confirms that the Italians take the presentation of their boards very seriously and with this in mind shares his top tips for assembling elegant appetisers.
1. The perfect board
First, you need to find the perfect board. Before even considering the types of meats, cheeses, and antipasto you want to use be sure to invest in a quality board that best showcases your creation. With so many shapes and sizes to choose from it's worth purchasing more than one.
2. Fresh is best
It's essential that all of your ingredients are as fresh as possible and are of the best quality available to hand. Always remember to provide enough variety so that every guest will find something on the board that they like. This is the Fourth Village secret to antipasto success says, Peter.
3. Stay traditional
Especially when it comes to your antipasto board. Stick to the basics like sundried tomatoes, artichokes, roasted peppers, and olives. This is not the time to experiment with way-out ingredients such as mango slices or shards of coconut.
4. Aesthetics are key
The colours on the board have to be right and they have to complement each other, you don't want all the red in one corner and all the meats in another. For your cheese board, be sure to mix up the shapes and types of cheeses. Think like a stylist when creating your boards and don't be afraid to put wedges next to rounds and to mix up the types of cheeses, for example, goats milk cheeses and sheep cheeses go well together. “We always say that guests will eat with their eyes first so presentation is everything,“ says Peter.
“We generally advise having a separate plate of bread, grissini or crackers,“ advises Peter. “These days it is important to include gluten-free options for your guests as well.“
6. Finishing touches
If you find that you still have space on your board, include herbs such as fresh basil or in-fill the blank sections with olives, sundried tomatoes, or pickled vegetables. “Italians love their pickled vegetables! “ says Peter.