Last time we were inside Whitney Leigh Morris’ adorable Venice canal cottage, we couldn’t help but notice one of her perfect kitchen accessories: a giant wooden cheese board half as tall as she is. (See the photo here, leaning beneath Whitney’s hand.)

Everything inside Whitney’s tiny cottage has it’s place – and every place is gorgeous. Whitney’s art director style is right up our alley: organic, earthy, luxurious-feeling and ultra-organized. Making good use of every nook and cranny in the 362 square foot space, Whitney keeps this giant wooden cheese board leaned up against her kitchen island. As soon as we spotted it, we were inspired: inside this simple cottage, this giant cheese board was just begging to be transformed into one of our favorite things – an Heirloom crostini station.

Heirloom LA, the farm-to-table caterers we’re absolutely obsessed with, are famous for their elaborate crostini stations. Their hyper-local, inventive cuisine is best displayed in these fantastical cheese board-meets-crudite spreads we run into at parties across the city. Think seasonal veggies, fresh spreads, homemade crackers, edible flowers, artisan cheeses and responsibly-sourced charcuterie – all displayed in an explosion of colors and flavors we can usually be found hovering over. We asked Heirloom founders Tara Maxey and chef Matthew Poley to meet us at Whitney’s for an afternoon at the tiny canal cottage to bring our crostini station dreams to life.

After unloading container after container of roasted veggies, pickled veggies, edible flowers and herbs, sauces, dips and handmade crackers, we watched as Chef Matthew filled the cheese board one step at a time with layer after messy layer of perfect bites. Everything Heirloom sources comes from local farms and ranches – and even their own garden. Even the cups and spoons they used to layer the crostini elements were special: recycled banana leaf bowls and cups made from fallen leaves included. 

Everything Matthew made was delicious, but we asked him to share this apple salad specifically. It’s hard to find something new to do with apples, and this salad is exceptional – spicy, fresh and ready for warm weather entertaining! Drool over the photos above and try this salad at home on a cheese plate of your own…

This apple pepper salad makes a lovely accompaniment to an appetizer or cheese platter, as a snack or light lunch or prequel to a meal if you add a few greens.

You can substitute stone fruit (once summer hits) for the apples, and mint for the basil, and cherries for the peppers. Also, watermelon can be used instead of apples – just add a little cayenne or jalapeño. The important thing is to balance the acid (lemon or lime juice) with the sweetness of the fruit. You can add toasted and chopped nuts (pine nuts, walnuts, etc) to this as well. Enjoy!

Serves 4


2 each Fuji and/or gala Apples, sliced in 1/4 inch slices
1 lemon, juiced
8-10 cherry peppers or 2 cups sweet peppers, sliced in 1/4-1/2 inch strips
1 cup basil leaves, sliced
fresh cracked black pepper
1 cup diced feta cheese (optional)
4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil


In a mixing bowl, combine apples, peppers, lemon juice, black pepper and basil to toss.

(The lemon juice helps apples remain crisp and avoid oxidation. It is important that you don’t add the olive oil first. If you do, it will coat the apples and prevent the lemon juice from penetrating.)

Next, fold in olive oil and feta cheese.

Serve within 24 hours.

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