Tips & Tricks For Hosting During the Season with Babe & Butcher

When it comes to preparation for holiday parties, we couldn’t think of anyone better to ask  advice of than foodie and hosting expert Lindsay Anvik, of Charlotte’s Babe & Butcher board catering company.

Lindsay and her partner (romantic and professional), Rob Henricks, started their catering/charcuterie board business Babe & Butcher on something of a lark. It wasn’t long, however, until the rapid rise of attention and demand for their boards forced the couple to shift their entire focus to the business.

One of Lindsay’s strong suits is an ability to combine artful, beautiful arrangements with delicious culinary flavors. From grazing tables to charcuterie, crudité, fruit and dessert boards, Lindsay knows how wow at a party better than nearly anyone.

It’s that time of the year, and you just got invited to a last minute holiday party. What do you bring, above all else?

Champagne. And if you’re Italian, like me, prosecco. Bubbles are celebratory and light. They pair well with most meals and desserts. They’re good during the cocktail hour, for dinner, or with dessert.

Let’s start simple: If you’re feeding people during this season, what are the best flavors to incorporate? 

The holidays are a complete sensory experience. Making sure the boards look, smell, and taste like the holidays are always a goal. I like to make sure visually I’m tapping into the season, as well as making sure the flavors are a familiar nod to the holidays. Pomegranate, cranberry and cinnamon are three of my favorite flavors this time of year. And what’s beautiful about them is they’re delicious in everything from goat cheese to chocolate.

Okay, from there, how do we best combine foods and flavors well in a spread?

Salt, fat, and acid play with each other beautifully. Salt can bring out flavors and can make a powerful impact on the palette. Fat brings out flavor and texture. Acid helps balance out flavors. Cheese and meat can both be very fatty and salty. Adding pickles (or something that has been pickled) helps cut the heaviness of the fat or the intensity of the salt. Citrus fruits can also add acid, which balances out a super creamy brie or salty cheddar.

If you’re hosting a large party, what are some easy ways to make sure everyone has bites? How do I know how much I need?

For a cocktail party, most people will sample at least once, if not more, from most of the trays. Plan enough so that most of the guests can have at least one to two bites off of each platter. Not everyone will have one bite from every tray, but this accounts for some people having extra of one item or nothing from another. If you know you have a runaway hit for an appetizer, make extra of those. Most likely the star of the show will be gone first so you’ll want to make sure everyone gets to enjoy it.

What are some beverages that combine well with snack boards?

Boards with intense flavors like blue cheese, savory goat cheese or truffle salami tend to pair very well with a sauvignon blanc or a dry riesling. When the cheese or meat flavors are intense, they play well with a lighter wine or a wine more on the dry side. 

If your boards are more sweet or savory, you may consider a wine that compliments the sweetness or balances the savory flavors. For example, a board with figs, grapes and balsamic goat cheese pairs beautifully with a rosé or a viognier. The sweetness of the grapes work beautifully with a rosé or a more aromatic wine like a viognier. This same sweetness balances out a savory cheese.

What are a few styling tips for making platings look pretty… that even us styling-challenged people can achieve?

Take the flavors of the season and incorporate them into your boards. If it’s fall, use apples and baby pumpkins. If it’s winter, use cranberries or cinnamon. If it’s spring or summer, add citrus to liven up plates. Color is crucial in plating, whether it’s a dish or a charcuterie board. You want to make sure you have pops of color to take your eye around the plate, or in our case, the board. I always use fresh herbs to emphasize the freshness of a dish. 

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