The Sweet & Salty Factor

Wowing clients is a serious business. After all, it’s not everyday that someone will trust you with their budget and their taste buds.

I’m always on the hunt for the latest and greatest in food and design, but it seems there are always new techniques and gadgets to keep on top of. Just when I master one, another one comes along that I just gotta have.

When I find myself in overwhelm mode, I go back to basics and ask myself what flavor combinations get people coming back for more?  The answer is what I call the “Sweet & Salty Factor”. Yep, it’s as simple as that. Combine something sweet with something salty into a bite-sized niblet and your guests are guaranteed to be happy campers.

One of my favorite sweet and salty creations is an hors d’oeuvres I call the “Cheeseboard Crostini”. I discovered this while playing around my kitchen trying to find an interesting way to use up a bunch of leftover grapes and small hunk of blue cheese.

After roasting the grapes in olive oil and balsamic vinegar I topped them on a crostini smeared with blue cheese and sprinkled with crushed walnuts and honey. The sweet and tart flavor of the grapes was a delicious contrast to the saltiness of the blue cheese and walnuts. Sweet. Salty. Perfection.

Cheeseboard Crostini Recipe

makes 30 crostini

1 small bunch red grapes (left whole)

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 T Balsamic Vinegar

Pinch salt

Dash of pepper

5 ounces blue cheese

¼ cup toasted walnuts (crushed)

1 small baguette

Honey for drizzling

Grape Preparation

Preheat oven to 400. Toss grapes in 1 Tablespoon olive oil, balsamic vinegar and pinch of salt. Roast on tin foil lined baking sheet for 10-15 minutes.


Preheat oven to 350/ Slice baguette into 1/4’ slices and lay out on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 350 until golden, about twelve-fifteen minutes. Grapes can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container for four days.


Smear blue cheese onto the crostini. Top with crushed walnuts. Add two grapes and drizzle with honey. Serve at room temperature.