This is the time of the year when we entertain our friends, and also the time that people just might stop by unannounced.
Having something easy to put together could be a real plus, not something that requires a long braise or hours stirring the pot.
Most good size grocery stores have a pretty good selection of artisan cheeses and charcuterie these days, so take advantage of it. Yes, artisan cheeses are expensive, but remember it takes only a small piece or two for a delightful selection.
If you know nothing about cheese, check out Steven Jenkins “Cheese Primer,” for an encyclopedic reference of cheeses from around the world.
If you have trouble making a selection that seems harmonious to your palate, then simply buy a selection of cheese and cured meats from the same country or region. They almost always hold hands. Here's an Italian suggestion with region of origin and basic type.
Gorgonzola, Lombardy, cow's milk blue
Parmigiano-Reggiano, Emilia-Romagna, cow's milk
Pecorino Toscano, Tuscany, sheep's milk
Taleggio, Lombardy, cow's milk
Mortadella, city of Bologna, cured pork
Prosciutto de Parma, Parma, dry cured pork
Soppressata, various regions of Italy, spicy pork salami
Try serving this selection with a bottle of Col Di Sasso, an inexpensive but quite good table wine.