No matter what the occasion, you can’t go wrong with a cheese board in our book. They’re a wonderful start or finish to a meal, or sometimes (especially in our kitchen!) they might even be the main attraction. The key to crafting the perfect cheese board is variety – both in your cheese selection and what you serve them with.
To start, you’ll want to make sure you have the right tools for creating the best spread. Large platters, marble slabs or wooden boards work well so that you can spread each cheese out and allow room for cutting and adding additional toppings between the cheeses. You’ll also want a separate knife for each cheese so that the flavors don’t mix – rounded knives work well for soft, creamy cheeses whereas a sharper knife is required for harder, aged cheeses. Consider planning to label each cheese for your guests, too! Either directly on your board if you’re working with a slate board or with labeling cards. Prior to your guests arriving, remove your cheeses from the refrigerator about an hour prior to serving for best flavor.
Now let’s get building!
- Artisanal Meat, Local Cheese. Rule of thumb is to have 2 oz. of meat per person and at least three cheese options with about 3 to 4 oz. of cheese per person if your cheese board is your main attraction. Scale back if it is an offering before or after dinner or with other light bites. We like to choose a variety of cheeses ranging from soft to hard with something creamy, something funky, something fresh, something nutty and something sharp. Particularly, we love Brie, Blue Cheeses, Goat Cheeses, Gouda, Gruyere and Aged Cheddars.
- Mix & Match Textures. Combining crispy crackers or crusty bread with soft cheeses and juicy fruits make for an extra palatable dimension. We like to offer a few different vehicles for topping: a basic white cracker (Simple White Crackers), an interesting flavored crisp (Rosemary Olive Oil Deli Crackers) and soft baguette slices. A variety of fresh and dried fruits provide great texture as well!
- Add Finishing Touches. Condiments and garnishes are the last steps to completing the perfect cheese board. Add a colorful finish by using herbs, nuts, jams and honey. We also love to add a small bowl of olives, roasted red peppers or other pickled vegetables. Lost on what spreads work well with particular cheeses? Check out some of our favorite combinations:
- Hot Pepper Peach Jam with Brie – the jam provides a “heat” plus “sweet” combination that pairs well with the creamy Brie or tangy Blue cheeses.
- Mango Chutney with Gouda – robust in flavor and hearty in texture, chutneys add lots of interest as a cracker topping and we love the sweet mango and slight smokey flavor of Gouda.
- Wild Maine Blueberry Jam with Goat Cheese or Brie – bright, Wild Maine Blueberry Jam pairs nicely with the fresh taste of goat cheese.
- Roasted Garlic Onion Jam with Blue Cheese – Slow roasted garlic, sweet onions and balsamic vinegar are delicious with tangy blue cheeses!
- Seedless Blackberry Jam with Gruyere – Light and sweet pairs well with the salty and nutty flavor of Gruyere.
- Apple Cranberry Chutney with Sharp White Cheddar – apples and cranberries mingle with herbs and spices in this chutney and make it the perfect accompaniment for cheddar varieties.
Do you have favorite flavor combinations you love to enjoy at home? Let us know below in the comments!