Picture this: You’re at your favorite Tahoe resort, and there’s bluebird skies above and views of the lake in the distance as you clip out of your skis, wedge them into the snow, and start layering on stacks of salami, cheese wedges, heaps of crackers and punchy pickled vegetables. This, my friends, is charcuteski.
It’s a noun. It’s a verb. It’s the subject of the 15K-strong Instagram account, @charcuteski, which features enviable cheese plates on skis and snowboards at resorts all over the country, including Lake Tahoe.
In a stroke of weed-fueled genius two years ago, Kera Pezzuti and her friends decided to use a ski for their spread of fromage and cured meats. The photos were a hit on their personal accounts, so they decided the idea deserved a platform of its own. Before long, the trend had taken off and the group began sharing photos from their followers in addition to their own charcuteski setups.
“It’s kind of nuts. It was this stupid idea that we came up with that we never thought could turn into anything,” says Pezzuti. “We’ve had submissions from Australia, New Zealand and a couple from the Alps.”
While it’s certainly fun to see their quirky idea take off online, the real joy comes from spending the day skiing and eating a well-curated cheeseboard with friends — all without leaving the mountain.
But first, Pezzuti wants to clear one thing up: The wax used by a vast majority of skiers and boarders is not a toxic fluorinated ski wax but a non-toxic hydrocarbon wax.
“Toxic wax is only really used in ski racing, so that’s not something that you have to worry about — we get a lot of comments about that. That’s not the type of wax you’re getting for your 10-buck slopeside wax during lunch,” Pezzuti notes. “But they do make this mountainFLOW eco-wax, which is plant-based, and it works amazingly well.”
The key to the ultimate charcuteski setup starts with location, says Pezzuti. Pick a spot off to the side of a run where you are visible but aren’t in the way of uphill riders. Epic views are a must.
When it comes to the selection of nibbles for the charcuteski, Pezzuti likes to use a mix of tried-and-true favorites and new flavors.
“I’m a big sucker for mozzarella and [Sartori] Balsamic BellaVitano,” says Pezzuti, the latter, a sweet and nutty wedge with a number of awards under its belt. “I always make sure to get a cheddar because that’s a classic that never fails.”
The mix of familiar and novel ingredients is an approach also used by Jill Akers, owner of The Board, a bespoke charcuterie company in Truckee.
For a medium-sized board — which would translate to two skis or a snowboard — she recommends four cheeses and two cured meats. Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam triple-cream brie and Cypress Grove’s Humboldt Fog — “a gateway to the blue cheese world,” she says — are regulars on her boards and both hail from Northern California. Akers loves to top the brie with honeycomb, though a small jar of honey could also do the trick when you’re on the mountain.
Up the ante on your cured meats with unique options like peppered, whiskey-infused or truffle salamis. “Truffles are really nice in the summer, but I think they are a little more cozy and warming during the winter,” she says.
For some tang, try garlic and Meyer lemon olives, cornichons, and pickled asparagus or green beans.
“Bosc pears are a really great addition, persimmons as those start to pop up into season, dried figs, or any cranberry cheeses people love around Thanksgiving and the holidays,” Aker adds.
Offer multiple cracker options like Rustic Bakery’s Sourdough Flatbread or Lesley Stowe Raincoast Crisps, which have a great mix of nuts, seeds and dried flavorings like fig and olive or rosemary and raisin.
Above all, just have fun with it, Akers and Pezzuti both agree.
“You get to hang out with your friends, you get to be outside and continue to experience the beautiful resort, and avoid the lunchtime crowds — and prices. It’s just a ton of fun,” says Pezzuti.
For more charcuteski inspiration, find @charcuteski on Instagram or order an artfully made charcuterie spread from The Board at www.theboardtruckee.com.