Pictured: A grazing board designed by Ojai based Pink Moment Grazing Co. available by delivery.
by Kimberly Rivers
During the pandemic, take out options became vital — for both restaurants and our sanity. Businesses had to adapt or shut their doors and one option that fits perfectly into this model is the cheese board. Recast somewhat in the more to-go friendly “grazing box,” these curated collections of cheese, meats, nuts and other nibbles are becoming a go-to choice for a special occasion, a thank you gift, or just a way to treat yourself. Here are some options from across the county to get grazing.
Love and Fromage
Forget carrot cake; are you ready for a brie cake? Crystal Paterson didn’t plan to start this business, but in the midst of the pandemic people were asking her to put her talent to good use and she has taken the snack box to a whole new level.
The Paterson home was known for fun, themed dinner parties, and she was always in charge of the cheese board and appetizers. They were on point and gorgeous. During the pandemic a friend asked her to make a few “in a box” for a client. At first she refused, thinking there was no way it would look good in a box. Eventually she relented, made a few boxes, photos were posted on social media, and today she’s figuring out whether they need to hire staff and open a store front.
“It made people so happy,” she said. And that is what it’s all about. “It gave people a sense of normalcy.”
Today people from Canada and Germany are placing orders for their friends along the Central Coast. They don’t ship long distances, but use a local delivery service ranging from about Santa Clarita to Santa Barbara. Customers often place orders for birthdays, weddings, dates or just to enjoy.
The boxes are made to order, and custom themes are available. Paterson says to contact her as much in advance as you can, but that they can usually fill orders with 24-hours notice. Prices range from $25 for a box for one or two people, up to extra large boxes at $225 for 11 to 15 people.
Peirano’s Market and Deli
204 E. Main St., Ventura
Step back in time in the historic Peirano’s building and browse the authentic Italian market and deli offering quality ingredients for a great home cooked meal, or a delicious antipasto board you assemble at home.
Linda Jordan and Jim Rice have kept the restaurant and market going during the tough pandemic year, adapting by offering online ordering for groceries and curbside pickup for those who’d rather not come inside.
This market will appease the desire of those who like to hand select ingredients. Peirano’s offers quality meats and cheeses, nuts and more (Grubhub delivery and online ordering available). Options include Genoa salami, maestro Calabrese, bresaola and panchetta as well as cheeses like casiago with truffles, Le Pardou tunnel aged and La Bottega. Don’t skip fresh fruit — a basket of strawberry, blueberries and almonds. Apples are also a nice addition. Round it out with some hearty bread or pickles.
Check the deli for side salads and other delights to include as well.
The Wine Closet
2423 Ventura Blvd., Camarillo
Everyone is looking for that place where everyone knows your name. For wine lovers in Camarillo that place is The Wine Closet in Old Town Camarillo. A cozy, unpretentious spot to find a great bottle for pairing with a fabulous charcuterie board (meat and a wide array of delicious cheeses), it’s also known for its hummus, too.
The boards are available for take out, so order up, pick out a bottle from the shop’s wonderful and original wine collection and indulge. Full takeout menu and curbside pickup available.
133 E. Ojai Ave., Ojai
Sometimes (especially these days) you need to feel as though you are getting away. Marche’ Gourmet is a fabulous place for such an escape. It is in the heart of downtown Ojai and in a location that is likely to have people roaming about, light traffic on the street, bicycles pedaling by . . . not unlike a European village. The shop is small, with high delicatessen counters filled with pastries, cookies, cheeses, meats and other items for light bites. The sandwiches are also to die for.
The beautiful plein air paintings on the walls (and the occasional art show on the patio outside) are done by the multitalented chef, Patricia Clouche, who will put together amazing party platters for any occasion.
Local tip: the Bagel Nosh Tray is a hearty breakfast option featuring bagels with lox and all the fixings. Or, for an elegant indulgence, try the afternoon tea and munch on scones, finger sandwiches and the like while people watching on the weekend.
Pink Moment Grazing Co.
Delivery only, free delivery in Ojai
When grazing boxes really took off, this Ojai Valley-based business garnered a well-deserved following. Whether it is a birthday party, graduation celebration, Mother’s Day or just enjoying a sunset, a box or board from Pink Moment will add to the joy.
With a focus on locally sourced items, it features nibbles such as meats, cheeses, fresh and dried fruits, delicious dips like hummu, sweets, nuts and the all-important olives. The boxes or boards are custom crafted with attention to detail. And of course, a bottle of wine can be added to top off the occasion. A 10 inch x 10 inch box is $50, with grazing boards ranging from $50 to $150.