The cheese board is the perfect anchor to any party. Whether it serves as the appetizer, the dessert or even the main course it always offers a little bit for everyone. And the cheese board has come a long way over the years. Just check out the first of our two video to see how much you can do with cheese!
Here are some tips on how you can create a beautiful cheese board — for four or forty — that will keep your guests happy and talking about it the morning after.
Tip #1: Grab a natural surface
Time to put away the shiny white plates or worse yet, the shiny tin ones. Cheese (and the accoutrements) always look best on a natural surface. This means wood, slate or marble. Don’t worry if your wooden cutting board looks a little worse for wear. One rustic fix is to take a piece of parchment slightly smaller than the board, crinkle it and then smooth it out. Lay it on the board and turn it slightly so the corners are offset. Voila! An old cutting board becomes artistically rustic.
Tip # 2: Never EVER cube the cheese
This cannot be stressed enough. Unless the board is for people under the age of 10, the cheese stays whole, or nearly whole. It's nice to help your guests know how to enjoy the cheese so show them the way. For a brie or camembert, slice a small triangle out of the circle and pull it away just slightly. For a hard cheese, consider slicing a few pieces, but not too thin or it may sweat. For a larger, extra hard cheese (think parmesan) try crumbling some off the end of the wedge. The cheese is like the beautiful birthday cake — no one ever wants to make the first cut.
Tip #3: Rule of three (or more)
The best cheese board has a soft, a medium and a hard cheese. Once you have those covered, then add as many more as you like. It's ideal to offer a nice breadth and depth of flavours and textures. When doing so, the board becomes much more dynamic and interesting.
Here's some ideas for cheeses to try:
Tip #4: The (blue) cheese stands alone
Blue isn’t just strong, it's also not for everyone. Keep it somewhat isolated and preferably not touching too many other things. It tends to spread its love to its neighbours. Nuzzling a little dish of honey or pepper jelly next to it helps create some boundaries.
Tip #5: Keep the carbs neutral
The cheese is the star of the board so now is not the time to try the harissa-infused waffle crackers. A crusty baguette or some small neutral crackers will be the perfect vessel for the lead role. Don’t feel you have to put all the bread or crackers out straight away. Keep some ready but tucked away in the kitchen and it's a quick refill onto the board when they start to get low. Another option is to serve the carb vessels on a board next to the cheese.
Tip #6: Speckle it with sweet, salty, briny & nutty (but never raw wilty kale)
This is the fun part. Once you have your cheese and bread, there's really no limit to the possibilities for what comes next. A rule of thumb is more variety, smaller amounts. If you're making a board for ten people, you don’t need ten figs. A colourful assortment of many different shapes and textures can make a board pop. The bulk section of your grocer is a great stop for this part of the board. Try to cover sweet, salty and briny (pickley) choices and some different nuts for crunch. In the bulk section you can get small quantities of a wide variety of options.
And that's it. There's so much creative freedom with a cheese board that a few guiding principles are all you really need to get started. At the end of the day you want happy guests sipping delicious drinks and nibbling charming cheeses. Have fun with the board and throw the rules out the window!
Here's more great ideas for entertaining:
- How To Create A Great Cocktail Party on a Budget
- How To Feed Vegan and Vegetarian Guests Over The Holidays
- Planning A Christmas Morning Brunch
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