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    Blog — Serving Boards

    Functional Natural Minimalism: Wood and Metal are back. Trends for 2020

    Functional Natural Minimalism: Wood and Metal are back. Trends for 2020

    Welcome to 2020. Part of the job of operating a design, production and retail company is watching trends in interior design and home decor.  There are many major trends which we see coming on for the next 2 to 5 years, and some micro-trends which we won’t  address since they’re short term.  We’re looking for those trends of substance. Since wood comes in so many different grain patterns, colors and styles we are always on the look out to see what suits our clients and how we can adapt our current products to fit the longer term trends, avoiding short term changes and “craze”s.

     

    One major trend, that is still on the go is Minimalism. We’re not talking about cleaning house and throwing away things you don’t need and living in a sterile environment akin to a hospital surgery suite. We’re seeing people living with less plastic clutter, but most importantly the home items they're purchasing have a form and function to them and are natural. Minimalism is often confused by people who think it’s little to nothing in product and size, and all straight lines.
    There are a lot of Minimalist pieces with curved edges or natural edges made of either plastic, composite or natural materials, such as wood. Organic elements that are crafted are making a strong comeback for the next few years.  Wood we predict, with its organic aesthetics- taking the environment and sustainability into account, will be a long term trend.
    Many Mod and Minimalist pieces are being produced from engineered “glue lam” and cross-laminated timber. This was a hot trend starting in 2019 and we see this going far into the 2020’s.

     

    Wood.

    Wood is making a strong comeback into kitchens as people tire of disposable plastic products.  This goes from flooring, walls, blocks and countertops. Comfortable looks inspired by nature that give small spaces an organic, natural and open feeling.  
    We’re seeing a long term trend of Maple, White Oak, French Oak, old growth reclaimed Vertical Grain Fir and Ash- all lighter woods, white or off-white blonde. These go well with some of the interior paint trends we’ve been seeing end of 2019  into 2020 and going into 2021 are- Purples, Pinks , Frosty blue and Pastels in all different shades.
    We are also seeing a long term trend at the opposite end of the color spectrum for interior. Darker natural woods- such as Walnut, Roasted Oak,  Mahogany and flame charred European and French Oak. All natural and without any staining, just a good clear protectant.  Interior colors going with the darker woods from 2020 and beyond are Cobalt Blue, Clay Red, Sliver Gray and coming back for the next few years is a Mustard Yellow and Hunter and Jade Green. 
    Natural wood serving trays, cutting boards and serving boards of all these light and darker woods are desirable for many homeowners in their kitchens, replacing thin plastic or composite cutting and serving boards.  Wood is a great economic way to add visual impact into a space.  
    Maybe you want a big KickAsh cutting board in your kitchen, something as simple artistic and rustic as a European Styled Charcuterie Board or something elegant and relaxed like a Reclaimed Vertical Grain Fir Ottoman Tray. We like Teak Wood, because it’s versatile and can tie in with a lighter or darker home environment. It looks good with a variety of popular and even timeless colors. We have a limited line of Plantation Teak Serving/Charcuterie Boards  that would be great for a black and cobalt blue with white room -or- would go well with a frosty blue and white room as well. Metallics go well with Teak too.

     

    Metal (and wood) Lighting

    Metal lighting with natural wood accents is making an illuminated comeback this year and next for every room in the house in the form of table lamps. One popular style is Industrial lighting that’s a combination of vintage pieces picked from various era’s and paired with wood bases. 
    Industrial era lighting is different than what’s commonly called “Steam punk” style lighting, as Industrial is simple, clean and with little parts as possible. Steam punk has unneeded parts that mimic imagined steam powered recreations of modern pieces and can tend to look gaudy. 
    Industrial era lighting is merging existing materials, mixing various metals and wood to form something new with its own unique characteristics- industrial chic. Many of our customers are interested in the parts and woods they’re opening their homes to.  We’re being asked about the backstory on the antique metal parts and reclaimed woods we’re incorporating into our deigns.
    Two examples of Industrial era table lamps are our  Raw Steel Industrial Edison Lamp on Figured Maple and Roasted Oak base and the one-of-a-kind Pipe Threader Edison Lamp we have on the Todd Alan Woodcraft site.
    With Industrial Era lighting, we suggest incandescent Edison style light bulbs. Lamps with Edison bulbs provide essential brightness and give a room a feeling of warmth.  Edison bulbs go great with the light colors this year, as well as the cooler  darker colors. 

     

    Mod Lighting

    Mod(ern) lighting is looking like it’s off to a great start in 2020.  This iconic style features funky patterns combined with sophistication.  Wood is another key component of this trend, as compared to the past 10 years, with metals and plastic. Retro designs feature sleek lines, simple forms and pairing those with creativity and imagination in accents.
    A great example of Mod Lighting is our Polished Copper Grand Edison Floor Lamps in Vertical Grain Fir Base where the unique end-grain patterns of the lamp bases give way to the sleek copper pole, and features an oversized exposed Edison bulb.  These lamps go well with a variety of up and coming popular colors on the light and dark ends of the spectrum.
    Since table lamps are the thing it seems this year, we’ve been ahead of the trend with our  Baltic Birch Framed Copper Lamp in Jatoba Base Minimalist lamp, inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright.  It’s a complex yet simple table lamp using a glue of Baltic Birch in the form of plywood as the frame holding a simple single light.
    The atmosphere in a Mod inspired room should never be overwhelming with different elements. Mod is inspired by simplistic, futuristic art and each piece should be a work on its own. Mod lighting and Mod style goes well with lighter colors, allowing the pieces to “pop” and stand out.  The lighter colors of wood in lamps work well in Pinks, Purples and pastels. 
    To sum it up, we look forward to the future and what growth and changes are in style, finish and materials are around the corner. We also look to the past, and how we can conceive new ideas from tried and true iconic styles.
    Pick what you like since your personality is reflected in your style, color palette and design. Its your personal environment, your experience and inspiration, there is no one-size-fits-all element or trend. There are so many options in wood, metals and fun colors- have fun in 2020 adding a touch of adventure to your home!

    Our Picks for Wine Pairings with Charcuterie

    Our Picks for Wine Pairings with Charcuterie

    Our Picks for Wine Pairings with Charcuterie

    One of the great things about entertaining just isn’t a house full of loved friends and family, no, one of the great things is you get to show off your creative culinary skills and your knowledge of pairings and to make that... “friend” who always brags about good they are in the kitchen, or “Aunt Hilda” who’s always so critical of the spread of food and variety of wine… very envious! 

    So, with that- even if you’re not fully knowledgeable about pairings of Charcuterie components and a good bottle of Vino, we’re here to help you look like a rockstar!  

    Since we come from the Pacific Northwest, we’ve picked one of our favorite Northwest, Internationally known wineries to highlight for this blog:  Argyle, located in Dundee Oregon.  

    “No other American winery but Argyle has earned recognition in Wine Spectator’s “Top 100 Wines of the World” in three wine categories: red, white and sparkling.” - argylewinery.com

    All the wines mentioned in this blog are available on Argyle’s site ( for those of you 21 and over) and are just amazing, we know, we’ve tried them all!  From the Floral and Fruity Pinot Noir to the slightly fruity and full-bodied Chardonnay Argyle wines are a great choice for any occasion. 

    Here are the selections of wine or sparkling we picked for pairings of cheese and different meats. 

    Argyle Spirit Hill Pinot Noir
    Cheese: Gruyere 
    Meat: Pate (Chicken, Duck, Goose or Pork) or Foie gras with herbed crustini.

    Argyle Rose Sparkling
    Cheese: Chocolate Cream (Dairy or Goat) cheese, Mascarpone cheese
    Meat: Ginger or Mint infused Pancetta and Roast beef bacon with a dollop of fig jam topped with a spot of creme fresh.

    Argyle Brut Sparkling  
    Cheese: Camembert, Parmesan
    Meat: Lardo (cured fatback) or Prosciutto 

    Argyle Knudsen Vineyard Blanc de Blancs
    Cheese: Chèvre or a White Soft Brie style Cheese with Peppers (Chipotle, Jalapeño, Habanero) 
    Meat: Prosciutto.

    Argyle Nuthouse Riesling
    Cheese: Swiss fondu, Taleggio or an aged Manchego
    Meat: A Lamb based meat product- slices of Fenalar (a Norwegian dried and cured leg of lamb).  

    Argyle Chardonnay
    Cheese: Creamy Shropshire Blue Cheese or Sharp Cheddar
    Meat: Cedar Plank Grilled Chilled Salmon or Chicken Salad Bites on Water Crackers.

    What makes a great Charcuterie presentation.

    What makes a great Charcuterie presentation.

    One of the most confusing things to the average, non-Chef’s of the world is,  “What exactly is Charcuterie and how do you even pronounce it correctly?”  Two valid questions, when there are so many things considered by so many different Chef’s to be Charcuterie. Solving the easiest of those two questions first; According to a google search, there are two best ways to pronounce Charcuterie. 

    The first being “shahr-kew-tree” and by other accounts “shahr-kew-te-ree” is also an acceptable way to pronounce it. 

    To me, both pronunciations sound the same- so as long as you’re not saying “Char-koot-tahaa-ree” you’re good. 

    Now we’ll tackle the harder question of what exactly is Charcuterie, and what does it entail?  What kinds of meat, cheeses, fruit- even what kind of boards and knives do you use? 

    Modern Charcuterie is such a broad range of things, so we can narrow it down into something you and your family can do at home, or when entertaining friends or business associates. 

    Historically Charcuterie consist of basically three things- sliced meat, cheese and a wooden serving board.  

    Now, modern Charcuterie goes well beyond these 3 simple things with the addition of fruits, nuts, breads, jams, jellies, pickled items and small one bite desserts all fall under the term Charcuterie. 

    There are a lot of choices and options now to serve your family or events guests- so the sky is the limit for what you can create by mixing and matching any kind bite sized Hors d'oeuvre.

    The Board.


    Technically, any kind of serving board or tray could be used for Charcuterie, and that’s why at Todd Alan Woodcraft,  we sell boards in the main category they were intended for but if you read the descriptions of the boards we create, we detail further what they could be alternatively used for. 

    Of course, we strongly suggest Wood boards for the natural, organic feel that they add to any dinner or event atmosphere.

    Wood boards are also the most commonly associated with Charcuterie and depending on the board, it can add a modern elegant or rustic look to your table.

    We offer a Charcuterie specific category of boards, but some of our serving boards would be awesome for a charcuterie layout as well.  

    We tend to make the Charcuterie boards a bit longer and wider as to be beautiful centerpiece table toppers. Normally serving boards are small to medium and shorter in length.  We try to vary our serving board sizes, to fit them into multiple categories, while still keeping the serving boards unique characteristics.

    Either way, all our Serving or Charcuterie boards are great for laying out a beautiful presentation.

    Though there are many variations in color and style of wood for Charcuterie, we suggest finding foods you like that go with, and compliment your boards features. 

    Contrasting colors, or uniquely shaped foods that compliment the board are a great way to do this as Charcuterie is not just about taste, it’s about the art of the visual design as well.

    Be creative and make whatever board you pick, make your Charcuterie an expression of the artistic branch of your foodie life.

    Mustard.

    One basic essential of any good Charcuterie board is having some savory and spicy elements. One of the best ways to incorporate both of these is to add a little Mustard. We suggest adding two basics to start with Yellow (or sometimes called “White”), Brown or as most commonly people refer to as Dijon.
     
    Other great additions to the board are garlic mustard, maple or honey mustard, spicy brown and even siracha style mustard. We suggest having small serving bowls and a cheese spreading knife or small tea spoon for guests to spread the mustard on whatever finger food they’ve picked up.
     

    Meats / Cheese / Fruits / Spreads and other yummy things.

    Here’s a short list of traditional and modern accoutrements for an exceptional Charcuterie board, which would sure to be a crowd pleaser.
    One thing we do suggest, is under oily foods. place something to keep the foods from having direct contact with the wood. Especially for pungent foods such as truffle infused butters, meats and other aged pungent cheeses.  The oils from these make cleaning and oder removal a harder task than it needs to be when it permeates and infuses the natural oil and wax used in cleaning and preserving your board.
    A few items you can use as a buffer between the wood and foods are: Wax Paper, Leaf Lettuce, Kale, Arugula, Small plates or bowls.

    Cheese.

    If you aren’t familiar with more than basic American and Cheddar cheeses, its always good to ask the manager of the the local cheese department of your favorite store what Artisan cheeses they might suggest for you.  Also, the same goes for meat department managers as well. 

    Tell them a little about what you’re looking to make, the type of event and most department managers are more than happy to help you select items that will be popular with your guests and work well together. 

    Some great cheeses to use are brie, blue cheese/gorgonzola, camembert, gouda, gruyere, goat cheese (block, not crumble), cream cheese, different flavors of jack, cheddar or mozzarella, havarti. There are harder cheeses like parmesan, asiago and romano which are great additions to the board.

    One tip: If you are using a strong ripened cheese or something pungent, separate the cheese by a few items between them, so over the course of your night or event, the taste of that stronger cheese doesn’t infuse into any mild or bland cheeses around it. And also remember what we said about pungent cheeses making direct contact with your board.

    Meats.

    Common meats served with Charcuterie are: salami, pepperoni, jambon, prosciutto other types of sausages or dried game meats. For a more modern Charcuterie board, smoked meats, Paté from different types of poultry, mousse and pickled meats are usually well received by guests.
    Cold-cuts are also acceptable, but with those, to make easier for your guests to pick them up we suggest rolling them.

    A easy to make crowd favorite is to take sliced Turkey cold-cuts and spread about a tablespoon of whipped cream cheese on each of the turkey slices. Place a very thin sliced pickle spear off to one side of each slice and roll the pickle spear to make a turkey wrap. Put a toothpick in the center to hold the wrap into place. 

    Fruits, Nuts and Vegetables. 

    A great addition to a meat and cheese board are savory and sweet tastes. Also hearty and earthy flavors of veggies add to the many variety of tastes available for modern Charcuterie options. Just remember to take into consideration anyone you know who has a nut allergy when designing your layout and design as you may want to omit nuts. We suggest unshelled nuts only, because shells can get messy and into other foods on the board.

    Here are some great additions to your board:
    almonds (plain or seasoned), peanuts (plain or seasoned), cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts, seasoned pine nut (in a bowl with a spoon), pickled vegetables (onions, cauliflower, asparagus, peppers, carrots  gherkins), black olives, mediterranean olive varieties, artichoke hearts, carrots (sliced, or sticks), roasted red peppers, celery sticks, zucchini slices, sugar snap peas, green beans, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, grapes, pear slices, apple slices, sliced kiwi, pineapple, cherries, figs… the list could go on and on. 
    Mix and match colors and come up with come innovative flavor combinations! 

    Sweets.

    Other than honey, normally sweets haven’t been a part of a Charcuterie spread, but are now gaining more and more acceptance as professional chefs, caterers and event hosts have been  increasingly using them in their designs.
    Some simple ideas for sweets to add to your culinary line-up are: chocolate squares or candies (dark, milk or white), dried fruit (blueberries, cranberries, raisins, peaches, apricots, apples), small cream puffs, bite-sized cakes and cheesecakes, cake pops and mini-doughnuts. Chocolate covered strawberries are always a popular choice. 
    We don’t  suggest adding wrapped candy or pastry items to the boards, no matter what quality the candy or pastry might be. Wrappers cheapen the look and take away from the over all aesthetics of the board. Plus, sometime- and I hate to say it- but people can be a little sloth and just place the wrapper down without being mindful of the food around it and you don’t want a wrapper getting into something you’ve spent time cooking/baking or designing. 
    Many people like to add jams and jellies, or a small tea light candle fondu pot of melted chocolate to dip marshmallows or pretzels in. 
    Pepper jellies are great and add a little sweet heat to your board. One thing we love to do is take a block of a little less than room temperature cream cheese or goat cheese,  place it on a small plate, then pour jalapeño pepper jelly over it. We garnish the cheese and jelly with some kind of berries and serve it with whole wheat crackers and a spreading Cheese knife. It’s a crowd favorite every time.
    We also suggest fig spreads, orange marmalade, apricot marmalade, Sweetened canned cherries and berry preserves. These can be served in bowls with spoons, or over different foods.

    Bread, Spread and everything else.

    Crostini, bread (sourdough, rye, wheat, rustic wheat, cheese, so on),  wheat crackers, rye crackers, chickpea crackers and depending on your spread, chips and pretzels add to the many things you can add meats, cheese, spreads, mousse and paté too.  They are great for dipping, spreading and as a platform for stabilizing meats and cheese while eating. 
    Dips are spreads are an easy to add item to your Charcuterie board, but the one important thing to remember is keeping these cool- as they can go bad with bacteria once they stay at room temperature for a short while. If you are going to use dips, make sure to do some research on proper ways to keep them cool. 
    Things you can add are hummus, ranch dip, onion dip, blue cheese dips, and other types of spreads for veggies, meats and breads. Olive oil and balsamic vinegar together plated, or in a small bowl, makes for a great bread dip.  Room temperature butter is also a good addition, with an easy spreading butter knife. 
    Last food items we’ll mention are things like pickled hard boiled eggs, pickled quail eggs are popular items to add, either whole or sliced, sautéed foods- which have been chilled and plated, like mushrooms and onions are excellent toppers for a cracker/mousse combination. 
    One thing we suggest staying away from is seafood and fish- unless you read up on proper techniques to keep your seafood and fish chilled throughout your evening or event.  You run the risk of food borne bacteria quickly developing and also, fish unless presented properly can infuse into the wood and be one of the hardest smells to remove from a wood board.


    Knives.

    Finally, what serving utensils and knives are important to have available to guests? Cheese knives are a must, one for the softer more spreadable cheeses, and a knife for the harder cheeses that take more effort to cut.
    The two types of Cheese knives we suggest you have available for your dinner or event are: a Fork-Tipped Spear knife which works great for both cutting, slicing and also the tip can be used for picking up the cheese and the second is a Soft Cheese Knife. These are both essential for your cheese plates.  Soft cheese knives can also be used for spreading mousse, paté, jams and jellies.  An additional knife, though not essential, yet very handy is a Cheese fork. This is useful for picking up not only cheese, but also meats, veggies and fruit as well.  
     
    As far as plating and serving, that is up to you, your budget and creativity. 
    Many party supply stores have plate and napkin styles for a variety of budgets. We suggest if serving food that needs spoons, knives and forks, that you don’t use plastic- as they can be dangerous around foods if they shatter or break.
    We hope this helps settle some of your questions on what is or isn’t Charcuterie, what boards work the best, what food choices are available for your boards, and helps take any confusion out of planning for your Charcuterie.   
    Realistically when it’s all said and done, nowadays creating a unique and imaginative Charcuterie board is whatever you can dream and imagine.
    So be creative and have a lot of fun with it! 
    To see our full line of beautiful Todd Alan Woodcraft Charcuterie Boards Click Here.

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