One of the easiest ways to entertain is to prepare a spread of charcuterie, cheeses, and cured and jarred vegetables, served with different condiments and a variety of breads.
Because it is so simple, the quality of the product is on display, so buying the best will ensure the success of your event. Here are some suggestions:
PROSCIUTTO: Italian air-cured pork hindquarter. Make sure it is from Parma or San Daniele. Have it thinly sliced, and make sure it is packed in single layers, with a piece of wax paper between them. Buy it as close to the event as possible, or, even better, the same day.
MORTADELLA: Known as Italian bologna, a sausage of finely ground pork product with pork-fat squares. Buy an imported variety. With mortadella, it is okay if the slices are pilled on top of each other, because they separate easily.
BRESAOLA: Air-dried salted beef from the top round, cut so it is leaner than other cured meats. Should be cut into thin slices and packaged with wax paper in between layers.
SPECK: Smoked, air-cured pork hindquarter. Have it sliced like prosciutto.
All of the cold cuts above look good spread on plates or on wooden serving boards. Place a variety, a few different types, on the serving platter with mixed olives or Tuscan green peperoncini nearby.
A chunk of Grana Padano, a piece of Gorgonzola, a piece of pecorino (medium-aged), a piece of Taleggio, and a piece of Montasio. Put all the cheeses on a large cutting board, and have cheese knives near by so your guests can serve themselves.
To crown the event, your selection of breads is very important, so diversify: offer crispy baguettes, multigrain bread, bread sticks, crackers, and fried dough. Fill decorative bread baskets, and fit them on each side of the display. Set on the table a good bottle of virgin olive oil and a bottle of balsamic vinegar—Tradizionale is the best—for those who like an extra drizzle.