How we eat: Beautiful boards


January 30, 2024

Person holding charcuterie board

A charcuterie love affair

by Angela Williams

There’s always a charcuterie board meet-cute — the moment you set eyes on a grand wood or stone slab overflowing with rivers of all things cheese, cured meats, fruit and the appropriate accompaniments. Charcuterie boards impress. They are never one-and-the-same, and we find them intoxicating.

A few summers ago, it happened to me. One late afternoon, I breezed naively through the iron gate of my friend Meggie’s back courtyard. I came upon the largest display of cheese, meats and fruit I had ever seen. As someone who considers cheese a meal when given the chance, Meggie Sullivan, owner and founder of Queen Brie CLT, had suddenly changed everything. I had fallen hard, and the tiny wand floating in the honey symbolically set the spell.

Years later, the love remains. Now considered part of our modern-day entertaining repertoire, the charcuterie board has continued to evolve and is as desirable than ever. Charlotte’s own charcuterie scene has expanded — into brunch, dessert, butter boards and more — and circled back around to its fundamental roots: good-looking, quality ingredients.

Charlotte is charmed to have quite a few charcuterie experts styling boards for us. Whether for date nights on the patio, girls’ nights in, or what has become the modern-day dinner party — informal gatherings around the kitchen island — the charcuterie board offers a little something for everyone (and no dishes).

Meggie Sullivan, middle, started Queen Brie CLT in 2019.  Photograph by Annie Spence

A smaller board, including three or four star cheeses and meats, still makes for the best combination, Sullivan shares as we catch up over a glass of prosecco. Clients’ tastes have evolved, which inspires her. Delice de Bourgogne, a soft cow’s milk cheese from Burgundy, and marcona almonds appear on most boards she assembles. “Fig jam continues to reign supreme,” she declares authoritatively (after all, she is the Queen). 

Though Sullivan asks for preferences and no-gos when fielding requests, she enjoys the opportunity to take creative freedom, and her boards are works of art. Blue cheese remains an unpopular board choice, though she lightheartedly disagrees with the common aversion to Roqueforts, Gorgonzolas and the like. If you think you don’t like blue cheese, she says, you simply haven’t tried the right one yet. 

As a frequent consumer of Mere’s famous pimento cheese, I decided I was long overdue in getting to know Meredith Mullins. The owner of Mere’s in Dilworth invited me to chat about what makes her space so special. While the pimento-cheese recipe is top secret, Mullins shared a little about the methodology for her fromagerie-esque spot. 

In addition to selling cheese and charcuterie, Mere’s is also a wine shop, allowing guests to explore a board filled with tastes suited to their vino. Or vice versa — you might allow the cheese and charcuterie to lead the way to your wine selection. Either way, Mere’s gets it.

No matter the destination, Mullins prides herself on creating boards that are completely edible. “Only the good stuff” is offered — no processed foods, additives or mass-produced items. I left with a generous amount of award-winning, buttery Prufrock from The Grey Barn & Farm on Martha’s Vineyard. Only the best.

And, well, Charlotte hosts expect nothing less. Charcuterie boards had us from the start. Being able to give guests an exquisite, thoughtful experience is all part of the continued allure.

I’ll be waiting for my next invite, to enjoy it all again. SP

Photographs by Demi Mabry

This feature is part of a collection of stories about local food and drink trends from tasting menus to cocktails and elevated comfort food.

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