When it comes to appetizers, there's one quick and easy item that can be enjoyed year round: cheese. For impromptu entertaining, a cheese spread is the ideal starter, be it a Fall brunch or Summer cocktail party. The best thing about a cheese display is that it involves no cooking; it's a completely assembled dish. However, in order to put together a harmonious and delicious cheese board, there are some things to consider. Here's what you should think about when assembling your next cheese plate:
- A traditional cheese board has a variety of flavors, textures, ages, and colors. From mild to extra sharp, crumbly to hard, raw to aged, white to blue, choose a wide range of cheeses.
- Although it depends on how many people you're serving, generally select three to five cheeses.
- If desired, let your selection be dictated by a theme. An assortment of cheese from Italy (ricotta, pecorino, gorgonzola, etc.) is a tasty start to an Italian meal.
- Think about offering a cheese vertical where you feature a single variety of cheese. Love cheddar cheese? Assemble a board with English cheddar, Wisconsin cheddar, Californian cheddar, etc. Showcase the cheese at various ages.
Keep reading to learn more about creating the best cheese board.
- If you are on a budget, choose one to two quality cheeses instead of a wide range of cheaper cheese.
- Make the display pretty. Serve the cheese on banana leaves or wooden boards. Create levels by turning bowls over and placing the cheese platter on top.
- Cut hard cheese, like manchego and asiago, into slices. Crumbly cheese, like parmesan, can be served in small chunks with a knife for shaving off pieces. Offer soft-ripe cheese, like brie, in wedges.
- Cheese is best enjoyed at room temperature.
- Label the cheese, so guests know what they are eating.
- Serve a variety of accompaniments. Plain bread and crackers that won't overshadow the flavor of the cheese are great options. Pears, apples, figs, and grapes are fruits that pair well with cheese. Want to feature berries? They are best paired with cheese in the form of compotes, jams, and spreads. Nuts, dried fruit, pickled or marinated vegetables, and charcuterie also work on a cheese platter.
- Don't limit your cheese experience to just appetizers. A cheese plate can also be served in between courses or as dessert. If offering at the end of a meal, pair the cheese with port, madeira, moscato, or another dessert wine.
What was on your last cheese board?