A Crash Course in Creating Cheese Boards

When it comes to creating a cheese board, selecting and pairing different cheeses can feel overwhelming. With a little bit of knowledge and creativity, you can create a beautiful and delicious spread. Here are some tips for selecting and pairing cheeses for your next cheese board!

Choose a variety of cheese types: To create a balanced cheese board, it's important to select cheeses with different textures and flavors. A good rule of thumb is to choose a variety of cheeses from the following categories:

- Soft cheese: Soft cheeses like Brie, Camembert, or Goat Cheese have a creamy texture and mild flavor.

- Semi-firm cheese: Semi-soft cheeses like Gouda or Fontina have a slightly firmer texture and a nutty flavor.

- Hard cheese: Hard cheeses like cheddar, Parmesan, or Manchego have a crumbly texture and a sharp, tangy flavor.

- Blue cheese: Blue cheeses like Gorgonzola or Roquefort have a creamy or crumbly texture and a pungent, salty flavor.

Consider the origin and history of the cheese: Knowing where a cheese comes from and its history can provide insight into its flavor and texture. For example, Brie originated in France and is known for its creamy texture and earthy flavor. On the other hand, Cheddar originated in England and has a crumbly texture and sharper, tangy flavor.

Pair cheese with complementary flavors: When selecting cheeses for your board, consider pairing them with complementary flavors like fruits, nuts, and crackers. For example, Brie pairs well with sliced apples or pears, while Gouda pairs well with almonds or walnuts. Accoutrements such as jams or pickles also pair well with various cheeses.

Serve cheese at room temperature: Cheese should be served at room temperature, which allows the flavors and aromas to fully develop. Remove cheese from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving.

Style and present your cheese board creatively: A well-styled cheese board not only looks beautiful but also enhances the flavors and textures of the cheese.

Here are some tips for styling and presenting your cheese board:

  • Use a wooden board or slate platter to create a rustic, natural look.
  • Arrange cheeses in a clockwise order, starting with the mildest cheese and ending with the strongest.
  • Add fruits like grapes or berries, nuts, and crackers in between the cheeses to create a visually appealing arrangement.
  • Label each cheese with a small chalkboard or note card to help guests identify the different types of cheese.
  • Add jams, pickles and other condiments in small bowls around or on the cheese board.

Now that you have some tips for selecting and pairing cheeses, here are some examples of different cheese combinations for your next cheese board!

1. Classic French Cheese Board: This board features Brie, Camembert, and Roquefort, accompanied by sliced baguette, grapes, apricot jam and walnuts.

  • Brie: A soft, creamy cheese with an earthy flavor and mushroom aroma.
  • Camembert: A soft, bloomy rind cheese with a buttery flavor and tangy finish.
  • Roquefort: A blue cheese with a crumbly texture and a sharp, salty flavor.

2. Italian Cheese Board: This board features Bocconcini, Parmesan Crisps, and Gorgonzola, accompanied by sliced prosciutto, fig jam and olives.

  • Bocconcini: A soft, mild cheese with a delicate flavor. This cheese should be coated in a variety of dried herbs, such as basil and oregano.
  • Parmesan Crisps: A hard, salty cheese baked into a crisps, these cheesy crackers are a crowd favorite.
  • Gorgonzola: A blue cheese with a creamy texture and a pungent, salty flavor. Gorgonzola pairs well with sweet things, like pears and figs.

3. Spanish Cheese Board: This board features Manchego, Tetilla, and Cabrales, accompanied by sliced chorizo, olives and white wine.

  • Manchego: A firm, crumbly cheese with a buttery texture and a sweeter flavor.
  • Tetilla: A soft and cream cheese that is quite mild. Tetilla pairs quite well with smoky foods and herbs.
  • Cabrales:A bold blue cheese made from sheep or goat's milk and a salty flavor.

Whether you're hosting a dinner party or simply indulging in a special treat, a well-crafted cheese board is sure to impress. Enjoy and happy grazing!