Let’s face it, there’s something wonderful about a beautifully prepared cheese board. You walk into a party, make your way to the food and drinks, and there it is: a perfect layout of cheeses, jams and other nibbles to give you the perfect snack as you socialize and mingle.
When it comes to preparing a cheese board, however, it can get confusing. What cheeses do you use? How do you arrange them? How much do you provide?
Today, we’ll demystify the process and lay out several easy steps to creating the best cheese board again and again.
Step 1: Choose Your Board!
This may sound overly simple, but choosing your board is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in this preparation. It’s the foundation for how your board will look to your guests, which is critical because we eat with our eyes first.
Generally, I like to start with a dark cheese board for my presentations. Most cheeses are lighter in color (especially the younger ones), so I like adding a little contrast to my arrangements. Black slate boards are really in these days, but my personal preference is still for more traditional, chocolatey looking walnut.
Step 2: Set a Visual Point of Interest
This may seem odd to do, but trust me when I say it works.
Take one of your non-cheese presentations and place it in the middle of your board. We’re going to use it as a point of visual interest, and from there we’re going to build around it. The more vibrant this ingredient is in terms of color, the better.
Step 3: Bring the Cheese
And now we come to the main part: the cheese!
When serving, you’ll want at least two pounds of cheese for every 8 people you serve. This can be a mixture of hard cheeses, soft cheeses, runny cheeses, semi-soft cheeses, and blue cheeses. The best preparations have one of each (even blue), so this would be something to consider when browsing your local cheese shop or the dairy aisle of your grocery store.
When arranging, you want to start with your softest and youngest cheeses and move clockwise around the board in terms of flavor intensity. Start with your soft runny cheeses like an Epoisse and move towards more heftier cheeses like a sturdy Gouda. The only exception to the rule is when you have your blue cheese, which should always go at the end.
When plating your cheeses, think about texture and shapes. It’s always a good idea to crumble some cheeses, cut triangles in others, and leave a spoon hanging out of your runny ones. Anything to help promote snacking among your guests!
Step 4: Liven It Up a Little!
At last, here’s where we come to creating the best cheese board ever. You’ll want to place flavorful accent pieces around the main event.
Things like olives, jams, honey, cornichons, fruits, figs, crackers and nuts (but be careful about allergies) are all fantastic additions to the cheese board. It’s also helpful to remember that the best cheese arrangements are also the most colorful!
The final step, of course, is to serve your creation! Bring it into the center of the party, and be prepared to enjoy the sight of your party-going guests enjoying themselves over unique arrangements of cheese.