Feel like you’re shunned by your friends & family for not bringing a cracking cheese board to social gatherings? I totally get it. As a family who own a food store with a cheese counter, it’s pretty much a social expectation that there is ALWAYS a good cheese board-ready at a moment’s notice! These days though, after 13 years of creating cheese selections daily for people in the store, I like to think I know a little about what goes into a selection and how to create one! So alas, a simple guide on how to create a cracking cheeseboard. Having a few things in the pantry and fridge to throw together for a cheeseboard at all times just makes good sense!
Now I should say, I’m a self-confessed cheese snob. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy a cheddar and Jatz while dinner is cooking. I grew up on them and I must admit, I’m a sucker for a slice of cheddar with a jatz! However, nothing beats a curated board of artisan cheese.
Ok, so I always start with the board itself. Its size dictates how many cheeses will fit on the board. The board pictured is approx. 30cm x 25cm which is perfect for three cheeses + bits and pieces. When selecting cheeses, always choose odd numbers, it just presents better. I usually choose either three or five.
Next, when deciding on what cheeses to include I usually suggest picking a couple of cheese groups and selecting one cheese from each group. Depending on your crowd you could even theme your cheeseboard. French cheeses anyone? Oui bien sur! The list below is by no means extensive, just a few of my crowd-pleaser go-to’s!
- Cheddar – Quickes Vintage (UK), Cabot Cheddar (USA), Maffra Red Wax (Aus)
- White Mould – Fromage D’Affinios (FRA), Delice (FRA), Woombye Ash Brie (Aus)
- Blue – Saint Agur (FRA), Stilton (UK), Gorgonzola Dolce Latte (ITLY), Cashel Blue (IRE)
- Semi Hard – Cashel Shepherds Store (IRE), Manchego (SPN), Alta Badia (ITLY), Comte (FRA)
- Goat Cheese – I love anything by Holy Goat (AUS). They’re Skylar Cheese looks spectacular on a board
My biggest piece of advice when buying cheese is to buy from a store that specializes in cheese. While supermarkets sell a vast selection, they are usually not matured, and they’re wrapped in plastic (Which makes many cheeses sweat. Not a good thing!). Instead, seek out someone who knows their stuff and ask them what’s good and in season. Many of my favourite cheeses are seasonal which makes them all the more special when they are available.
The extra bits
Now, onto crackers. At least 2. Minimum. One predictable, lavosh, water crackers, Jatz! Go out on a limb with the second one. I love fruit crispbread or cheese bickies, but you could even try a crusty baguette. I make a fruit sourdough that goes perfectly with white mold cheeses. Throwing grissini into the mix is always a winner too.
And finally accompaniments. A cheese plate isn’t complete without those extra bits to nibble on. They can make or break any cheeseboard. My advice is to mix it up. A little fresh fruit, nuts, a fruit paste, cured meats, olives, marinated figs, muscatels, honeycomb (goes famously with goats cheese). So many options!
A few more tips to create a cracking cheese board…
Arrange cheeses so that they never touch each other.
Fill the board completely – a gappy cheese board is not a thing. It’s about abundance. That’s what nuts are for. And rolled cured meats. They fill all the gaps!
Always make sure each cheese has its own knife. No one likes their cheddar to taste like blue cheese.
So there you have it. I hope this goes a little way in helping you create the perfect cheeseboard. Go forth and impress folks! Pop some champagne, maybe whip up some Strawberry Fizz, and entertain in style!
PS. I’m also listing the bits and pieces below are for the cheese board in the picture so you can recreate at home.
- Cheeses – Delice / Roquefort / Maffra Black Wax Cheddar (about 150g of each)
- Crackers – Lavosh / Grissini / Fruit & Nut Crispbread / Cheese Bickies
- Other – Muscatels / Pear / Quince Compote / Mixed Nuts / Honeycomb / Proscuitto
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