Magazines and Pinterest are always showcasing them–overflowing with perfectly ripe fresh fruit, high-quality cured meats, perfectly flavored cheeses… Is it any wonder why putting together a cheese board or cheese platter can be such a daunting task for those of us who aren’t cheeseboard experts?!
I’ve been pretty intimidated by cheeseboards myself, but I’m finally getting comfortable with them. The truth behind putting a cheeseboard together is that it can be as simple or as complicated as you would like it to be. I wouldn’t call myself a cheeseboard expert but with these steps and tips, you’ll be all set to put together your own cheeseboard with ease.
You’re only a few quality ingredients and a few steps away from putting together a beautiful and inviting cheeseboard.
Here’s what you need to know!
Decide what kind of cheeses you would like to put out.
Soft, semi-firm, aged, or bleu, there are so many different types of cheeses you can put out! To keep things simple, it’s best to stick to one or two types and perhaps get a couple of cheeses that fit into each of those categories. Here I have goat cheese, brie, and Saint André, which are all soft cheese, and a bleu cheese for those who love the flavor.
Here are the exact cheeses I’m using:
- Ile de France Brie
- Ile de France St. Agur
- Ile de France Saint André
- Ile de France Plain Goat Cheese
Each of these cheeses should be available in your local supermarket! Ile de France brings great flavor to all their cheeses.
Decide which crackers/bread you want to put out, based on the cheeses.
There are so many types of crackers and breads to choose from, just like how theres plenty of cheese to choose from, too. Whole-grain? Water crackers? Woven wheat crackers? Multigrain? Seed crackers? White bread baguette? Breadsticks? One or two simple but tasty crackers and/or breads are a good choice for a cheeseboard. If you’re looking to make things simple and easy, pick crackers that will go will multiple cheeses and be able to hold the weight of the cheese.
Any jams, dried fruit, or nuts to go with the cheese and crackers?
The stronger cheeses can be tied together with simpler ingredients like honey and nuts, while the milder cheeses will be well complemented by flavorful jam. You can also go the savory route with tapenades, pestos, and hummus spreads. Remember that you don’t need to have any of these, but they do add to the cheese and crackers, helping to tie all the flavors together.
Any components to complement the cheese and crackers?
This is where you can get creative and think of what meats, fresh fruits, dried fruits, olives, etc. go with the flavors of your cheese board. Salamis, grapes, dried apricots, marinated olives, etc. help to really make the cheeseboard like it’s overflowing with so many options and flavor combinations. Don’t be afraid to add some color, texture, or flavor.
If you’re skipping the toppings for the cheese and crackers, do make sure you have a few options to complement the cheese and crackers. If you’re skipping the meats, fruits, and other snack foods, have more options for spreads, jams and toppings for the cheese. Just don’t serve plain cheese and crackers–you’ll need something to make it look, feel, and taste more like a cheese platter.
Arrange the board!
Layer the cheese and crackers in between all the other components of your board. To make things pretty, think of patterns in which you can arrange things. I’m using a simple wooden cheese board here so that the food on the board really stands out.
Set out wines that pair well with the flavors of the cheeses!
Keep in mind that you may need to have 2-3 bottles to pair the wines and cheeses well, but it’ll be well worth it. Do a little research to figure out what types of wine go well with the cheeses you’ve selected.
On this cheese board, the bleu cheese goes well with a cabernet sauvignon, the Saint André pairs well with a chardonnay or a white blend, the brie pairs well with any white wines, and the goat cheese pairs well with Bordeaux wines. So I’ll need at least a cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay or white blend, and a Bordeaux (which is closest to a merlot and cabernet sauvignon blend) to get the best flavor pairing.
Here are the exact wines I’m using:
- Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages 2015 (pairs with goat cheese)
- Georges Duboeuf Pouilly-Fuissé 2015 (pairs with brie)
- Légendes Rouge (pairs with bleu cheese)
- Légendes Blanc (pairs with Saint André)
The Légendes wines are quite elegant but also affordable at about $18 each. The Georges Duboeuf wines are highly rated with the ones I’ve used rated at 90-91 points. The prices however are anywhere from $10-$35. Both makes are excellent, and I highly recommend their wines.
And… that’s about it! Keep these simple rules and steps in mind, and you’ll put together a cheese board that no one will be able to keep their hands off of. Make a plan and stay cool! It’ll look great, and taste even better!
Things to keep in mind:
If you really want your cheese board to leave a good impression, you’ll want to read these tips. Keeping these things in mind will help you to assemble the best cheese board for your guests!
Dietary restrictions and food allergies. Do any of the people you’re entertaining have dietary restrictions or food allergies? Any vegetarians in the group, or perhaps someone with the need for a gluten-free diet? If you don’t know or are unsure, it’s better to play it safe by keeping the certain components of your cheese board separate. It’s totally alright to arrange two or three smaller boards with those ingredients grouped separately, say by meat, cheese, and crackers. Your guests might thank you for it!
Cheese preferences. While most of us are probably big fans of cheese (the more, the better am I right?!), not everyone loves the same cheeses. Even within my own family, everyone has their own preferences when it comes to so many varieties of cheese. Stronger cheeses might not be universally loved by all your guests, even if you personally live for something as strong as a bleu cheese. Do a little research and make sure your guests love the cheeses you wish to place on the board. It’s safe to have a mix of mild and strong flavors. Be sure to have different cheese knives for the different types of cheese so that they don’t mix!
Labels. Labeling the items on your cheeseboard with little picks or maybe with a chalkboard next to your cheese platter will help your guests decide what they want to eat! It will help answer a lot of the questions your more curious guests might have.
Show guests how to pair their wines and cheeses. It’s best to not assume that everyone is an expert when it comes to pairing their wines and cheeses. Kindly recommend some wine and cheese combinations for guests who may be a little shy, anxious, or just don’t know what to pair together! You can also put up a sign next to the cheese with some recommendations if you’re hosting a larger group of people.
Use high quality ingredients. Sometimes it can be tempting to assemble a cheeseboard with inexpensive ingredients. I’m talking raisins, saltine crackers, overly-salted nuts, etc. It’s so much better to stick to a few high quality ingredients than to deck out the board with a variety of snacks.
Add some character with some decorative flair! Candles, flowers, foliage, and other decor can take the look of your cheeseboard display to the next level! Just be sure that people can still get to the food easily enough. You don’t want anyone burning their sleeves on a tea light just because they wanted to slice some brie.
What do you think? How do you feel better about assembling a cheeseboard now? What else would you add to your cheeseboard?