We’re going to try to get through this without throwing in a single cheesy pun.
Cheeseboards: can you even say you’re an adult of great style who can throw a dinner party of great style if you don’t know how to arrange a cheeseboard?
Before we guilt you into answering that, we’ve put together a quick and handy guide to putting together the perfect cheeseboard. Be it for the aforementioned dinner party, a sweet date, or just a classy Netflix and Chill session on the couch, keep these tips in mind for inspiration and motivation next time you’re looking for a snack that really takes things to the next level.
[Featured and Hero Image Credit: Brooke Lark/Unsplash]
It’s in the name. You’re going to need a board for this game.
Cheese is typically served on a wooden board, which is grand because even your kitchen chopping board may do. In essence, you’ll need a large, flat surface to place your cheeses on, and the rule goes that the bigger is generally the better. Marble is also a nice option for a classy aesthetic, and doubles in function as it can have a cooling effect on your cheese.
Presentation (‘grammability) is everything
We’re going to say it flat-out right here, right now: not all cheeses are beautiful.
If you’re looking to put together a cheeseboard that is as ‘grammable as it is gorge-worthy, assembling your cheeses the right way is key.
Begin by placing larger items such as big cheeses and bowls (for your condiments) on the board, before filling in the empty spaces with smaller items such as nuts, herbs, or even edible flowers. Try to select a variety of textures in cheeses so that there is a contrast not only to the taste buds but also to the eye. We love the idea of placing various blocks of cheese onto the board and keeping a cheese knife nearby for cutting, yet the reality is that this often times could a) make the whole experience more stressful and b) ruin the aesthetic of your cheese board. Thereby, look into different ways of cutting your cheese into easily reachable and easily enjoyable bitesize pieces.
You could go for the ‘fan out’ technique, the classic ‘cube’ technique, or keep it simple by doing regular slices stacked atop one another. Fold your charcuterie if you’re using some, and consider tooth picks for lesser contamination risk. Some herb sprigs also add a nice rustic feel to the whole thing.
Cheeses to include
The whole fun of a cheeseboard is the variety in flavour. A nice rule to go by is to pick cheeses from different animals (sheep, goat, cow) or different countries (Italy, France, Spain, Greece, Thailand). Experiment with different textures, ranging from soft cheeses to hard cheeses. Here’s a really general guide:
Soft cheeses: Burrata, Mozzarella, Brie, Ricotta, cottage cheese
Soft-ish cheeses: Roquefort, camembert, gorgonzola, feta, goat cheese, blue cheese
Almost hard: Manchego, Provolone, Comte, Gruyere, smoked cheese
Hard cheeses: Cheddar, Parmesan, Pecorino, Gouda
Non-cheeses to include
Despite its name, a cheeseboard actually requires more than cheese to be effective (read: delicious). There are a number of non-cheese items you should consider.
Whilst some people like to opt for a warm baguette or ciabatta, unsalted crackers or even bread sticks are a prime carb to add to your cheeseboard.
Charcuterie pairs beautifully with cheese, so definitely add some salami, chorizo, or ’nduja sausage in any form to your board. You could also include hams like Iberico, Prosciutto, Guanciale, or cooked.
Nuts and cheese are another classic combination. Go for almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, or cashews.
Following on from nuts, add some sweetness to balance out the saltiness on your board. Consider apricots and figs, or even fresh fruit like grapes, raspberries, or apple slices for acidity. Some honey on the side is also a divine option.
Radishes, cornichon pickles, and olives are your friends, and a piece of dark chocolate nobody hurt anyone. Just stay away from white chocolate — you don’t want your guests to barf.
How to enjoy
We’re a little on the wall about when exactly to enjoy a cheeseboard (the answer is “all the time”), given that it makes both an appealing appetiser with Champagne, but also a great way to end a meal with sherry and port wine.
In essence, there’s no right or wrong, so long as we can all agree that all cheese at any time is grate cheese all the time.
(Sorry, you had to give us the one.)
This article first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Bangkok on 22 June 2020.