Meats: Choose a select few options that offer variation. Think of slightly salty ribbons of sliced prosciutto contrasted by spicy slices of salami or pepperoni, or hot capicola balanced by sweet smoked ham.
Cheeses: Again, variety is key for chosen selections. Simple aged Cheddar, creamy Brie, pungent blue, nutty Manchego or Parmesan, or a fresh goat cheese offer diversity in tastes and textures.
Fruits and Nuts: Simple fresh fruits such as grapes, figs, berries, sliced apples, peaches and pears offer a refreshing acidity to balance rich meats and cheeses. Dried fruits such as apricots, dates or cherries host intense fruit flavors. Roasted and smoked nuts such as almonds, pistachios and walnuts can add a desired crunch factor to your spread.
Pickles, Mustards, Jams and Other Condiments: Sweet, sour, briny and bold items provide even more tantalizing tastes to complement meats and cheeses. Spicy whole grain or sweet smooth mustards, tart pickled vegetables, fruity jams, floral honey and salty olives are all welcome additions.
Breads, Crackers and Crisps: A myriad of breads, crackers and crisps make a nice base to assemble exciting flavor combinations. Whole grain, fruit, nut, or herbed crackers and rustic crusty breads are just a few options.
Assemble offerings on a nice wooden cutting board or marble slab. Small bowls and ramekins make a home for your condiments and be sure to include appropriate flatware such as knives, small spoons and tongs to facilitate friends and family helping themselves to your creation.