Use these expert Cheeseboard Tips to create an appetizer spread or cheese course your friends will love! Knowing some simple basics will help you serve the best variety.
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I live on the upper west side of Manhattan. There are so many grocery stores and gourmet food markets right in my neighborhood that have the most amazing cheese counters. I’ve picked some favorites out over the years and I know a bit about different cheeses, cultures and flavors–but I’m no cheesemonger. If you’re not either, read on!
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It’s still a bit overwhelming when I go to buy a variety for a party cheeseboard. If cheesemongering isn’t your expertise, then this guide will help you. I’ve included some of my faves and others that make for a tasty variety and beautiful presentation. Because…that’s what I’m into.
I like to create a cheeseboard “platter” from all my small wood cutting boards. Arrange them together as one big platter.
Serving wedges of cheese on a cheeseboard takes more thought then simply purchasing a cheese for grating, mac and cheese or those tasty grilled cheese sammies. And nibbling on cheese-filled bites is easy with my snacks and hacks. But the real deal cheese and snack boards can’t just have your typical cheddar and Monterey Jack. Start by knowing the basics of pulling together a party platter based on this cultured goodness.
How do I serve cheese at a party?
You want to know how many guests you’re serving, buy the right cheese, have something to present it on, and as an added bonus: have some cheese labels!
• When you shop at your local cheese counter, or gourmet food store, ask to sample the cheeses you’re interested in buying – they expect you to.
• How much should you get? Figure on 1-to-2-oz of each cheese per person. It’s sold by weight so you can add up the numbers. I’ll be honest, if you know you have a hungry crowd it’s wise to get extra.
• Have labels for each cheese on the platter so people can remember the kind they especially like. You can make your own, write it with wax pen on a slate or buy those cute little reusable labels.
• Cheese doesn’t taste its best when served too cold, so take it out of the fridge an hour or so in advance.
•Find a variety of cheese boards, cutting boards, and slate, if you don’t have one large serving platter. I love simply taking a variety of my small wooden cutting boards and arranging them close together as if it’s one platter, like the image above.
What is the best cheese for a cheeseboard?
- You can’t go wrong with a Swiss-style cheese like Uplands Pleasant Ridge from Wisconsin, or even a classic Gruyère.
- Goat’s-milk chèvre, with its tangy flavor, is a crowd-pleaser. I like spicy Majorero Pimentó, rubed withpaprika – or try Cypress Grove Chèvre.
- Every board should contain at least one buttery-soft cheese like Brillat-Savarin, Brie or Camembert Châtelain.
- For an adventurous crowd, choose a pungent cheese that has been “bathed” in salt water or wine for added flavor. Try Stanser Rotelli or an Époisses.
- Not all cheddars are created equal. Include a crumbly English-style variety, such as Grafton Special Reserve Clothbound Cheddar, from Vermont, or a French Cantalet.
- No board is complete without a sharp, fragrant blue. I like Oregon’s Rogue River Blue and Grassland Blue from Minnesota.
How should I store my cheese?
• To keep and store cheese, wrap it first in parchment or waxed paper, then loosely in plastic wrap or place in a ziptop bag. Many will keep for several weeks in the fridge.
• Don’t throw out the rinds! Toss them into soups, stews and sauces when you’re cooking for extra richness and flavor.
What do I serve with cheese on a cheeseboard?
• A dollop of chutney or jam tastes great with salty, tangy cheeses, while a drizzle of honey delivers sweet balance to sharp cheeses like aged cheddar. Dried fruits and nuts are delicious with many types of cheese and it’s always nice to have rustic bread and plain crackers to nibble on.
For more cheesy goodness check out some articles from my food friends.
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Written by Tara. Originally published in LHJ November 2010. Prop Stylist: Jen Everett. Photographer: Paula Hible