If you are hosting, a cheese board is the perfect after dinner spread, or you could go one step further and make a cheese board the feature of your evening. After all, I am obsessed with cheese.
There are some great ways to make your cheese board awesome, rather than just average. Think flavour combinations, presentation and more unusual cheeses, and you will create a centre piece that no one will forget.
First, think of what you are going to use as a backdrop for your cheese board. If you are wanting to make your cheese board the centre piece of your table, then a chopping board on it’s own is not the most interesting. Think about different textures, and maybe even some fabric. Here I have used my marble pastry slab. The one I have is from David Mellor and is 50cm x 35cm. I like the marble as it stays naturally cool, which is good for the cheese, and the pale background allows everything on the board to stand out. Depending on what kind of look you are going for, you might want to use something vintage like some weathered wood, an old board, or even adding some lace or coloured fabric to the display.
Next think about what kind of cheese board you want to make. Is it for dessert? Is it for a themed evening? If so, pick cheeses that best reflect what you want. If you are serving an after dinner cheese board, typical good choices would be a cheddar, a blue cheese, a soft cheese (such as brie or camembert) and maybe even a cream cheese. Serve a mixture of breads and crackers so people can make a variety of combinations, and then consider what would pair well with each of the cheeses.
Grapes – Go well with hard, strong cheeses such as cheddar. The sweet, juiciness of the grape complements the sharpness of a strong cheese, creating a much more interesting experience.
Dried fruits – Above I have used apricots which go beautifully with blue cheese and soft cheese. Because of dried fruit’s slightly tougher texture, it is nice to pair this with a soft cheese to create that variation in texture that we like.
Fresh Figs – These go beautifully with nearly every cheese. They are soft and full of flavour and have a different texture within them, with the flesh being chewy, and then a whole bunch of crunchy seeds – yum.
Nuts – In this instance, almonds are my favourite. Big ol’ skin on almonds. They are smooth and rich and perfectly complement the manchego cheese – also something a bit different that people won’t expect!
Whole pears and apples – For me, having a large chunky piece of fruit to cut up and have with cheese is a must have. I love pears for stronger, more spicy cheeses, and apples for milder, creamier cheeses.
What will really set a cheese board apart is what you serve with it for people to mix and match. Think chutneys… but one step further…
Honey – I LOVE honey with cheese. It goes beautifully with parmesan, grana padano and manchego. Throw on some almonds and you have a seriously tasty combo going on there. It’s seriously underused so if you haven’t tried it – do so!
Chutneys – Now I know I hinted above that chutneys are boring… but that isn’t what I meant! Chutneys are awesome… if you find an awesome one. So often, the ones you buy in the supermarket are overly sweet and jammy, and the most prominent flavour is sugar. That’s not cool. What you want is a chutney or two, where the main flavour is something like red onion, or tomato and chilli. Cheeses love to hug the rich flavours of onion and tomato, so try to go for something good quality, or even make your own if you are feeling creative!
When making a cheese board, I like to mix everything together on the board, so people can pick at all sorts of things and make up small plates as they go. I also love how colourful everything looks. Try and arrange the things that go with each cheese near each other, so that people are guided to pick the combinations that best compliment each other.
The final touch to any cheese board is a good wine. Now, I am no expert trust me. However, I try to pick something that will compliment the cheese being served. I like to research what cheese we are having, and then pick something from the recommended region, in the budget we have. The great thing about wine is that you can normally find something suitable in whatever budget you are working with. There is definitely no need to splash on expensive wine to have something great. I really love this guide from Serious Eats. They definitely know more than I do so check them out!
I hope that this post is useful the next time you want to make a cheese board just that bit more special!
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