Points to Note:
- Please aim to have a good visual appeal and great tasting cheese.
- How many cheeses do you want to serve? 4-6 different types should be enough. Don’t crowd the cheeseboard.
- How much cheese should you serve? Allow about 2oz (55g) of cheese per guest for a tasting and about 100g (4oz) per guest if the cheese is the bulk of the meal. Please don’t be tempted to put out more than you need.
- Make sure you have a good balance of flavours, from mild cheeses like Gouda or Edam to flavoured cheeses like White Stilton with Mango and Ginger and strong cheeses like Roquefort. Serve at least one goat or sheep’s milk cheese, rather than all cows’ milk cheeses.
- You may even decide to serve 4-5 types of cheddar, or cheese from a region or country or a variety of flavoured artisan cheeses.
- Offer different textures of cheese: soft; semi-soft, semi-hard to hard cheeses.
- Shape and colour: Choose cheeses with interesting shapes (wedged cheese, wheels, logs or squares), and colour combinations (blue, white and yellow). Cut large circular cheeses into wedges, like a pizza.
- Serve cheese whole: There is no need to pre-cut or remove rinds of cheese. Allow the guests to serve themselves. Do not pre-slice the cheeses into bite sized pieces.
- Decorate the board with some herbs, fruits, wild flowers or seasonal leaves.
- Labelling: Label cheeses and meats so guests know what they’re eating. Reusable cheese markers are handy, as are small cards or you can use writable ceramic cheese boards. You can also jot down a few poetic adjectives describing the flavor of each cheese.
- Do you prefer to keep ‘em guessing? unlabelled cheeses make great conversation starters, but make sure you know the cheeses you’re serving, very well
Accompaniments for the cheese?
- Avoid strongly flavoured accompaniments that will distract from the flavour of the cheese. The aim is to highlight the flavour of the cheese.
- Grilled vegetables, dried fruit like fig or apricots, fresh fruits like apples, pear or grapes and toasted nuts like walnuts, pecans, macadamia or vegetables like celery, go well with all cheeses.
- Crusty or fruit bread, breadsticks or flatbreads or assortment of crackers, add a contrasting texture and allow you to experience the texture and feel of the cheeses in your mouth.
- Pickled or caramelized onions, charcuterie, jams, jellies and chutneys make great accompaniments.
- Blue cheeses and strong hard cheeses, go best with sweet accompaniments like grapes and celery or a drizzle of golden honey;
- Soft cheeses go well with crisp, light crackers.
Shopping for the cheese
- Buy the cheese on the same day, if possible, or at least the day before or as close to the time of serving as possible.
- Shop at a cheese or deli counter or cheese monger that encourages you to taste before purchasing.
- Support your local cheese makers.
- For special occasions, search of the local medal winners or the authentic labels like AOC, DOC, or PDO.
Serving the Cheese:
- Cheese tastes better at room temperature.
- Remove cheese from the fridge at least one hour before serving, and keep it covered.
- Remove the rind from hard cheeses
- Meats may be arranged about 15 minutes beforehand.
- Knives: serve each cheese with its own knife, especially the soft and blue cheeses. Soft cheese spreads well with a butter knife; firm cheese might require a paring knife; and aged cheese like Parmesan often requires a cheese plane.
- Goat and blue cheeses crumble if you use a regular knife, so cheese wires are the best thing to use–if you don’t have one, you can use dental floss!
- Have plenty of small plates and cocktail napkins on hand.
- If you’re having your cheese board with a meal, make sure you enjoy it after the main meal but before dessert.
What Should the Board Look Like?
- Traditionally, wooden boards are used. Choose an elegant wooden board or chunk of driftwood.
- You can also use a wicker basket lined with linen cloth; or use festive glass, slate tiles or ceramic boards.
- Marble or granite is also a good choice, but often heavy.
- Individual vintage plates or decorative platters with small chunks and wedges of cheese can also be used.
- Typically, a board should be arranged in style and served from milder to stronger cheeses in a clockwise fashion
Examples of cheeses:
- Fresh Cheeses: Cream Cheese, Cottage Cheese, Curd Cheese, Farmer Cheese, Fromage Blanc, Paneer, Fresh goat’s milk chèvre, Ricotta, Mascarpone. Mozzarella, and Queso Fresco.
- Aged Fresh Cheeses: Clochette (2-3 weeks), Ketem Goat’s Cheese, St. Tola Irish Goat’s Cheese.
- Soft White Cheeses: (Camembert de Normandie, Sharpham, Brillat-Savarin, Capricorn goat, Brie de Melun), Brie and Neufchâtel are soft-type cheeses that mature for more than a month.
- Semi-Soft Cheeses: (Stinking Bishop, Langres, Edam, Taleggio, Vacherin, Mont d’Or)
- Hard Cheese: (Manchego, Emmentaler, Grana Padano, Cheddar, Mimolette)
- Blue cheeses: (Stilton, Roquefort, Gorgonzola, Bavaria Blue, and Danish blue)
- Flavour added cheeses (Taramundi, Gouda, Wensleydale with Cranberries, Nagelkaas).
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