Now boarding love: A tribute to grazing together at any and every meal

Tell your loved ones to prepare their taste buds for takeoff with a grazing board just right for celebrating love – a meal served on a board or platter is interactive, communal and social-media-post-worthy.

While Valentine’s Day may be all about honoring long-term relationships, a board meal doesn’t require much commitment at all. You can serve all manner of food on the same platter. Any meal of the day is board-appropriate. So, whether you’re feeding a family on the run or stoking the flames of passionate love, a board is just right to show you care.

The kind of love you commemorate on Valentine’s Day, and how you honor that love, is entirely up to you. Whether you and your loved one prefer formal attire beside the fire or PJs and Netflix, a meal made for sharing and served on a platter or board will be just right.

Breakfast board

Launch Valentine’s Day with a playful waffle-focused breakfast board. By relying on store-bought ingredients, this meal comes together with relatively little effort. The breakfast board would be a wonderful way to celebrate with your family before all head off in separate directions for the day.

Toast mini waffles and microwave some bacon or sausage. My current favorite morning hack is to cook store-bought cinnamon rolls in our waffle iron. What normally takes 20 minutes to bake in the oven is ready in just two minutes. Spray your waffle iron liberally with nonstick cooking spray before placing one uncooked roll on each waffle square. Add fresh fruit, a nut butter, syrup and chocolate chips to the board and watch the creativity flow as everyone makes their own meal.

Pour-over coffee brewed with Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Co.’s Heart of Darkness coffee ($12.95/lb) for the adults is the perfect mug to enjoy with this meal, I find it at Ava’s Downtown Market in Mountain View or Whole Foods Market in Los Altos.

‘Lunch bunch’ board

As a major fan of Galentine’s Day, which falls on Feb. 13, I love treating my gal pals to a lunch board featuring something for everyone. My vegetarian, gluten-free and omnivore friends all can find something to love on my lunch board.

For this gathering, we’ll pop corks of Pine Ridge Vineyards’ Sparkling Chenin Blanc and Viognier ($18). This delightful California sparkling wine is floral and crisp, with long chains of delicate bubbles. It pairs beautifully with the variety of flavors on my lunch board, which usually include a beet hummus, labneh dip, fresh and dried fruits, veggies, cured meats, cheeses, olives and gluten-free crackers.

My labneh dip couldn’t be easier. I mix 1 cup of store-bought labneh with the zest and juice of one lemon, two tablespoons of tahini a splash of warm water, a grated garlic clove and a pinch of salt. Mix all ingredients well and serve cold with a scattering of flaky seasalt on top. If you’d like to make a beet hummus, I recommend Yotam Ottolenghi’s moreish version, which you can find online or in his book “Jerusalem” (Ten Speed Press, 2012).

Romance on board

For a romantic evening, a classic charcuterie will have you and your boo grazing skin as you graze the evening away. Way back when, before we even said our “I dos,” my husband and I loved what we called a picnic dinner. With little effort in the kitchen, our picnic dinners would now most certainly be classed as a board meal. What makes this meal especially Valentine’s worthy is that while sharing bites, you can have fun creating perfect bites for one another. I don’t think he’d ever have put cheddar cheese atop a slice of apple as I did for him. And I’d still be missing the pleasure of Dijon mustard atop brie were it not for his introducing me to that combo.

If you’re possibly couch camping while you enjoy this grazing meal, I suggest you serve your loved one’s favorite beverage. My love loves a hazy West Coast pale ale.

I’ll have a glass of 2020 Castoro Cellars Rosé ($20). From Paso Robles, this rosé is a delightful Valentine’s Day choice. Aromas of bubblegum and strawberries leap from the glass. On the palate, this wine surprises with its crisp and balanced acidity.

(written for the Los Altos Town Crier)


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