1. Assemble the meats and cheeses on a large cutting board or flat platter to come to room temperature at least 30 minutes before serving.
2. Place cheese knives next to each kind of cheese, small forks for the meats, and a small bowl for anything like olive pits or used toothpicks.
3. If time permits, serve with at least one simple homemade item like: Honey Ricotta Pears, Wine-Poached Figs, or Warm Mediterranean Olives.
4. Place the bread and crackers in a basket on the side or directly on the board. Arrange the fruits and nuts on the board or in small decorative bowls. Serve with red and white wine.
1. Halve and core the pear, then cut into slices, leaving the stem-end intact and not cutting through to separate the slices. Squeeze the lemon juice over the cut side of the pear halves.
2. Season the ricotta with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, then place in 2 mounds on a plate. Top the ricotta mounds with the sliced pear halves, gently fanning out the slices. Drizzle the pears with honey and sprinkle with the pine nuts.
Trim and halve the figs, place in a saucepan with the wine, sugar, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the wine is reduced by half and slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the thyme sprigs. Serve on top of an assertive cheese, such as blue, Taleggio, or a triple cream, spread over the bread slices.
Warm Mediterranean Olives:
Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar, vinegar, cinnamon stick, orange peel, and olives. Season with salt and pepper.
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