Food

The Vesper Board Is the New Cheese Plate

The Vesper Board Is the New Cheese Plate

Ever since the Kitchen Healer taught us how beautiful a board full of little snacks could be, we’ve been slicing up appetizers and displaying them on a board at every opportunity. The German version, called a vesper board, is next-level—especially as executed at the dreamy upstate NY restaurant Brushland Eating House.

In lush and beautiful Bovina, New York, Sara Elbert and Sohail Zandi own and operate our new favorite restaurant. We love the design, the atmosphere, and of course the inventive food—of which the vesper is definitely the centerpiece.

The idea behind the vesper is a feast of small bites that spares the host the heat of the kitchen and affords more time for aperitif sipping. Abundance and balance are key; here, savory smoked-trout butter and broccoli rabe pesto contrast with rich yet briny pickled deviled eggs; a bright, fizzy Montenegro spritz; and a delicate, not-too-sweet olive oil lemon cake. Round out the spread—filling every inch of the board—with your favorite breads, crackers, charcuterie, or any other seasonal farmers’ market treasures you can dream up (late-season tomatoes and figs would be spectacular right now). Serve a vesper board as a Friday-night appetizer, a Sunday brunch, or any meal in between. The only rule: There’s no such thing as too much. Pile high, spread out, and dig in.

The Makings of a Brushland Eating House Vesper Board

  • Beet Pickled Deviled Eggs

    Beet Pickled Deviled Eggs

    “A bright, pickled take on the party staple. The beet gives color, while the acidic vinegar brings a tangy bite—if there’s one vesper component that gets scooped up the fastest, it’s these delicious eggs, so make a bunch!”

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  • Broccoli Rabe Pesto

    Broccoli Rabe Pesto

    “A savory spread and an all-around wonderful condiment, our tannic, slightly bitter pesto is used here at the restaurant as a base for roasted cauliflower, broccoli rabe, pickled mushrooms, and salty, pan-fried pancetta. For the vesper board, we fill a ramekin full and let our guests use it as they see fit (as a dip for veggies, spread onto bread). If you double the recipe, you can keep this deliciousness in the fridge to mix with roasted mushrooms or other veggies, use atop a seasonal pasta with ricotta and peas, or use as a base layer on your favorite sandwich.”

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  • Smoked Trout Butter

    Smoked Trout Butter

    “We love an excuse to eat butter all by itself. And we’re always looking for fun ingredients to fold in. Smoked trout is abundant this time of year in the Catskills, and it’s widely available elsewhere. The smoky, salty, briny condiment can be spread onto sourdough baguette, swiped onto a cracker with hot peppers, or schmeared onto a bagel with red onion and capers. For the vesper board, we spread the trout butter onto thick slices of toasted baguette.”

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  • Montenegro Spritz

    Montenegro Spritz

    “We love a spritz for its ability to assuage summer swelter and whet late-afternoon appetites. For our take on the Italian classic, we pair botanical Montenegro amaro—with hints of lavender, rose, bitter orange peel, and black pepper—with Franciacorta, Italy’s answer to champagne. The authentic Italian way is to drop in a few salty olives, too: They highlight the herbal qualities and amp up the sugar in the wine.”

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  • Olive Oil Cake with Fresh Berries

    Olive Oil Cake with Fresh Berries

    “Olive oil cake, with its dense crumb, salty-savory flavor, and ability to take on just about any topping, is a staple here at Brushland. Lots of our guests order an extra one of these and have it the next morning with tea. We let the season dictate the fruit we serve the cake with—right now it’s wild wineberries, raspberries, and blueberries. In the fall and winter, it’s just as delicious with figs or blood orange. To make this extra decadent, try spooning ricotta sweetened with a bit of maple syrup over the top.”

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