Perfect Little Starter Plate

One of these days Andy will write his post calling bull$#@t on starters. (He could, in fact, fill a book dedicated to calling bull$#@t in general.) “Why,” he always asks “do we spend so much time putting together a delicious dinner if our guests are just going to fill up on cheese and crackers and approach the table stuffed before they even lift their forks?”  I think he has a point, but I also know that a well-curated starter plate is one of the great pleasures in life, and if assembled correctly can actually make you hungrier. As usual, I have a formula in the back of my head when I’m putting one together. It goes something like this:

Perfect Starter Plate = something sweet + something crunchy + something pickled + something from a pig + something aged

The trick is just to not have an obscene amount of any one thing. Above, you’ll see a small hunk of aged Manchego, about a quarter pound of Parma (you could do regular prosciutto or Serrano ham), some cornichons from Trader Joe’s (the best in my opinion and there would be more in that bowl if the girls didn’t eat them like popcorn right from the jar), and some pecan-raisin crackers from Eli’s Bread. Lesley Stowe’s raincoast crisps (Whole Foods) hit the sweet-crunchy note nicely, too.

Have a great holiday.


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That Eli’s cracker stuff is fantastic. Really good with some whitefish salad slathered on there too.


This is so funny. This is essentially what I am bring for Easter apps on Sunday and I’ve been fretting it won’t be enough- glad I have the DALS seal of approval


what are cornichons?

and also. we do the starters as a meal too. more food than you put out though, and then we skip dinner. this is a smart idea.


I have side with your husband. Every time we eat at my inlaws, my mother-in-law introduces appetizer after appetizer and then looks disappointed when no one wants much at dinner.

Having said that, I have to admit I enjoy grabbing a bite and being able to walk around with it.


Love the Raincoast Crisps – very popular here in Lesley’s home town of Vancouver…

A Life From Scratch

Oh those little cornichons look to die for.

I’m with Andy on staters! I always find myself spending so much on them (great cheeses, meats, etc…) that sometimes they cost more than the actual meal I am preparing. I’ve always been a main course and dessert gal, which people are aware of. I’m rarely asked to bring over an app.


This looks delicious! Have you tried the Rosemary Raisin Crisps from Trader Joe’s? They’re thinner than the Rainforest Crisps but the taste is close and they’re not as pricey.

Rhonda Sittig

I can agree with Andy on the starter dilemma– BUT that is such an appealing little slab of food. So I’m all for “starters” for dinner itself, sitting by the fireplace. That’s what we’re doing today (Christmas!)– after a big Christmas lunch–we’ll make up a fire this evening and pull out hunks of cheese, salami, smoked salmon, olives, almonds, pears… and nibble to our hearts (stomachs?) content.