When there’s any kind of get together or potluck, I like to offer to bring a cheese board. I often get asked, “how did you do that?” The answer I always give is, “I don’t know, I just threw everything on a big plate,” which is really the truth, but I realized it’s really unhelpful to anyone who actually wants to know how I did it. So, I jotted down some of the things I consider when putting together a cheese board. So read them through if you’d like, and develop your own favorite ways to put together an awesome cheese board.
Cheese boards are great because you literally get to pick all your favorite cheeses/meats and throw them on a cool platter. Then, once it’s time to eat, you get to go on flavor adventures by trying new pairings of everything that’s on the plate. I think of it as a sophisticated “choose your own adventure” lunchable, but much prettier! It’s also a big show stopper – surely a great way to entertain!
So here goes – here are some basic tips to keep in mind when you build your next cheese board:
- CHOOSE THINGS YOU LIKE! (duh, right?) You’re going to be eating this, so pick cheese, fruit, crackers, etc that you enjoy. Broad categories I like to fill: cheese, cured meats, crackers, fruit, condiments (mustard, jam, honey, etc), and extras (nuts, olives, etc). If you’re not a big cured meats kind of person, leave those out; if you like lots of fruit, go heavy on the fruit! You get the point
- VARIETY! It’s nice to have things that are different in color, texture, taste, heights, shapes, etc. It’s more visually appealing, and it makes it so much fun to eat when there are lots of options. For the cheese, I like to pick one soft/spreadable cheese (brie or goat cheese are pretty common ones), one hard cheese (parmesan is my my fave), and one crumbly cheese (maybe a gorgonzola or something like that). I usually have more than 3 cheeses because I love cheese, but I would recommend having at least 3. For the crackers, you can definitely get away with just one type, but having 2 or 3 different types makes it more fun (and pretty). I like to have a basic round cracker and long breadsticks. I only have salami on this plate, but I usually opt for a cured meat pack that has 3 varieties of prosciutto and such. For fruit, again, choose things that will contrast in color and shape to other things on your plate. Some standard options are grapes, pears, and figs (check out those adorable champagne grapes). However, I’m a strong believer in “put whatever you want on there,” so if you have some lychee or prickly pear or some other random fruit around, put it on there! Last thing about esthetics. When you’re cutting your fruit and cheeses, try to cut them differently so you have slices of some things, cubes of others, maybe some melon balls? Having those contrasting shapes makes for a much more visually appealing board.
- CLEAN YOUR FRIDGE. Cheese boards are a fun way to use random things you have on hand instead of buying whole new boxes/packages of things. I usually go to the store and buy a couple of things, and the rest I get from what I have around. You don’t need a ton of one certain ingredient for the plate, so just go through your pantry and fridge and grab a couple handfuls of this, a spoonful of that, and a sprinkle of that other thing. Some things you may have lying around are dried fruit, nuts, random condiments (mustard, jam, honey), olives, goldfish or cheez-its, etc.
- PICK A BASE. Get creative with what is going to hold your masterpiece of a cheese board. I’ve used regular plates, cutting boards, marble slabs, lazy susans; the possibilities are pretty vast. For the one pictured, I used a board by Hazelwood House, which was pretty great because of the little cheese knives that came with it. Roam around your kitchen or house and find something flat that’s about the size you’re looking for.
- GET CREATIVE. Like always, I highly recommend that you get your creative juices flowing. Arrange things in a new and fun way, add exciting things to make it pretty (like flowers!), and don’t fret about making it perfect! Being a little messy and unique is a definite plus! There’s no right answer to how to do this, so just have fun, relax, and enjoy some cheese (and wine!)
- ENJOY!! Congratulations, you have just created an amazingly delicious, show-stopping masterpiece that is the perfect thing to entertain with. Hugs & kisses and all my best wishes!