Building the Perfect Cheese Board.

Building the Perfect Cheese Board.
Building the Perfect Cheese Board

This post originally appeared on The Stripe in 2017 but I wanted to give it a little refresh with a few more recent favorite cheeses, tips, accompaniments, as I have a lot of new favorites to share.

Before we begin… I love to entertain and I love cheese. In my opinion, good cheese (and good wine) is one of life’s best, most greatest pleasures. Nothing makes me happier than building a beautiful cheese board and sharing it with good company. Today I thought I’d put together a little post about it to help you build the perfect cheese plate!

Building The Perfect Cheese Board

The first tip I have is to know your audience. A few of my good friends hate soft cheeses, whereas my sister and cousin and I are basically soft cheese monsters. Before having friends over, just ask! Some people are really grossed out by the creamier (sometimes stinkier) cheeses, so you want to make sure that you’ve chosen something your friends will love! Below I have listed out my personal favorites and a little step by step for preparing your board.

If you ask me, the ideal cheese board should generally have at least three cheeses. Depending on your audience you will want to do a mix of hard and soft cheeses (I typically do two soft cheeses and one harder one… but if I have friends who are less adventurous/pregnant/etc coming over, I will alter that and do more hard cheese.). I typically plan on having at least 1/4 lb cheese per person as a rule… plus a little extra as sometimes the cheese board turns into dinner.

Building the Perfect Cheese Board

My favorite places to buy cheese are Goat Sheep Cow (in Charleston) and Murray’s Cheeses (in Manhattan). Whole Foods of course also has a terrific selection of cheese. Also: Goat Sheep Cow also sells incredible cheese platters if you’re in a pinch or feeling lazy but I personally really enjoy making my own.

The Perfect Cheese Board

I have a few different cheese plates and boards but I actually like to put my cheeses on a big cutting board. This big chopping block makes for a really beautiful board, in my opinion!

My Favorite Hard Cheeses:

  • Ewephoria (get it at Murray’s!) is a caramel-y goat cheese with notes of butterscotch. It’s nice and crumbly and looks really pretty next to a soft gooey cheese.
  • Brabander is a hard goat cheese from the Netherlands. It has the most delicious caramel flavor.

Crowd Pleasers

  • Aged Cheddar is something that everyone loves. I mean, you can’t go wrong.
  • Brie is probably the most innocent of all the soft cheeses. It’s delicious and super creamy.
  • Saint Andre is one of my favorite cheeses. It’s a triple cream cows milk cheese and suuuuuper buttery. I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who didn’t fall in love with this cheese. A true crowd pleaser!
  • Goat Cheese (with or without herbs) is delicious and also on the healthier side. A lot of people hate goat cheese though (this is personal experience talking) so be sure to ask ahead!
  • Aged Gouda is not quite hard or soft but is another cheese that everyone absolutely loves!
  • Parmigiano reggiano is another classic crowd pleaser, plus if you end up with extra you can grate it over pasta the next night.
  • Blue Cheese is honestly not my favorite but most people really like it, plus it adds a different color/texture to your board

Soft Cheeses

  • Truffle Tremor is my all time favorite cheese. If you love truffles this will change your life. It’s a goat cheese with truflfes in it and it’s just the most amazing. My cheese plate essential!
  • Blue Earth is my best friend’s favorite cheese – it’s a form of brie and ultra buttery.
  • Camembert is a classic soft cheese – good if you want to take your love of Brie or Saint Andre to the next level.
  • Good Thunder is an amazing alternative to Blue Earth (I couldn’t find it at my cheese shop lsat time). It’s a cow cheese from Minnesota. It’s super gooey and absolutely delicious. You can only buy it in a square shaped block (and when you cut into it, it makes a huge mess). The oh so helpful guy at Bedford Cheeses advised me to cut it in half diagonally and serve it that way. It helps. 🙂
  • Pierre Robert is a recent favorite. Holy moly is it good. I get so happy any time Bin 152 (my favorite wine bar in Charleston) has it on its cheese menu.

Calabrese spice salame

My favorite salami right now. Bedford Cheese Shop sells these and I’ve tried ’em all. This one is the best.

You will want to serve your cheeses at room temperature. I generally take everything out of the fridge an hour before company comes over to let the cheeses soften.

How to build a cheese board What to pair cheese with

What to pair it with!

You can pair your cheeses with anything. Bread and crackers are a must for me, but it is fun to get creative with fruits and nuts, cured meats, fresh fruits, honey, mustard… all of the things! There are no bad choices when it comes to jazzing up your cheese board.

Something sweet!

I like to do honey, but you could also do a fig jam or a quince paste. Figs are another good option; and they look pretty sliced in half on the plate.

Dried fruits!

They add color and texture to the plate. You could do cranberries, peaches, apricots or any fruit… more recently I discovered dried pears and dried tangerines. Both are a little harder to find but absolutely delightful

Meats!

I will generally get a salami of some sort (this one!) and prosciutto de parma. Cut the salami into thin slices, and roll the prosciutto up into tiny bundles.

Almonds or nuts.

My personal favorite is truffled marcona almonds (I buy mine at Trader Joe’s) but you could also do classic marcona almonds, cashews, regular old almonds, etc.

Mustard

(this is optional but a really good spicy mustard is delicious and also adds a nice color to the cheese board.

Olives
Pickles.

I love Rick’s Picks pickles… they take all sorts of delicious vegetables and marinate them.

Crackers

This is boring but my favorite crackers (probably because I see crackers and bread more as a vehicle for getting more cheese into my mouth) are Carr’s Water Crackers. They are light and crunchy and let the cheese to shine.

A fresh baguette, cut in  thin slices.

You want your guests to do as little work as possible!

Olive oil to dip your bread in, drizzle on top of your cheese, etc!

Brightland Olive Oil is my personal favorite, I would absolutely recommend the newer garlic one – the BEST for dipping!

Building the Perfect Cheese Board Building the Perfect Cheese Board Building the Perfect Cheese Board What to include in cheeseboard

How to make a cheese plate
Building the Perfect Cheese Board

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Comments

  1. I’ve never heard of so many of these cheese names. You sure know quite a bit!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

  2. Thank you for naming actual cheeses! I’m always overwhelmed and don’t know how to narrow things down. I’ve seen lots of “cheese board” posts on blogs before, but everyone just takes copious pictures of olives and salami. Thank you for real suggestions:).

  3. Brittany says 5.4.17

    Minnesota represent! ha. This looks so good- who hates goat cheese??

    xo, brittany
    florals for mama + babe on my blog today
    http://www.notablob.com

  4. Brianna Rooney says 5.4.17

    Yes – more of this please! I love it! Maybe entertaining in a small outdoor space too?!

  5. Sam says 5.4.17

    LOVE a good cheese plate! One of our friends bought us a cheese board as a housewarming gift, and now he always brings cheese and a baguette when he comes over. It’s perfect! Definitely have to check out your faves! I’m also a fan of smoked gouda, and there’s a garlic and herb cheddar that is amazing…and now I want cheese!

    xx
    Sam

  6. Angela says 5.4.17

    100% yes to more entertaining posts! I’ve never heard of the Ewephoria cheese. Next time I’m in the city I might have to buy some!

    Angela

  7. Devon Hembury says 5.4.17

    YUM! It’s not even lunch time but I’m pretty much drooling. Love all these ideas! Just got a new cheese board and I’m so excited to break it out…might have to this weekend 🙂 xo Devon Seventeen Dresses

  8. diana pearl says 5.4.17

    Love this post! And now I want cheese. HA!

  9. Maggie says 5.4.17

    My cheese plates always have to have a Manchego and Humboldt Fog. Then I cycle in other cheeses based on my audience. If you haven’t had Humboldt Fog you MUST. It’s my absolute favorite!

    • I can’t believe I left Humboldt Fog off! It’s one of my favorites!!!! It’s in my fridge right now, actually. Picked up a nice big block at Whole Foods on Saturday. x

  10. Shannon Cannon says 5.5.17

    You seem like the absolute sweetest hostess, Grace! Love this spread. Definitely team Spanish cheeses (manchego).

    http://shannoninthecity.com

  11. Alison says 5.5.17

    Love a good cheese plate! Have you been to Sahadi’s? It is a total Brooklyn institution, one of my favorite foodie places in all of NYC. It’s this amazing little specialty market that has been on Atlantic Avenue for a hundred years and has a HUGE cheese department with great selections from all over the world…they also have this amazing bulk nuts/dried foods selection, barrels of fresh olives, prepared foods, hummus, all the coffee, and then all kinds oils, spices, cookies, breads, spreads, and other goodies that you never knew you needed. And it smells soooo good in there. I really miss Sahadi’s…

    • I haven’t!!! It sounds like I need to make a trip! Thanks for the suggestion, Alison! xx

  12. Elizabeth says 5.11.17

    Thanks for doings such a comprehensive post on this! I always do a cheese board when I have people visit my place and I’m looking forward to looking for some of the cheeses I haven’t heard of before. Especially excited about the different kinds of brie – I love brie!
    -Elizabeth | confidentlyelegant.com

  13. Melanie says 7.29.21

    I loooove a good cheese board. Ewephoria and St. Andre are some of my favs! Also those TJ’s truffle marcona almonds and some cornichons MAKE the board for me! Such a good post, Grace!

  14. mary says 7.30.21

    I am bookmarking this post for the next time I need cheese board inspiration. Some of your condiment links will make great Christmas stocking stuffers for foodies too. I am personally a big fan of adding bunches of seedless red grapes to a cheese board. They add beautiful color, they’re easy to eat and compliment a parmesan or asiago beautifully. I love cheese boards!

  15. Kate says 7.30.21

    LOVE the cheese name recommendations! I will reference this next time I go to the cheese shop!

    If you love garlic, I HIGHLY recommend baking some in olive oil and serving it with your charcuterie tray! It is so so so good and people love it (it is usually the first element to be finished)! I’ve also used those toasted cheese crisps (usually parmesan) as a base option which makes it cheese on cheese but so good. And Trader Joes had these little toasties with figs and one has raisins, they are another good way to get interesting flavor combinations!

  16. Pat Schwab says 8.3.21

    Grace, I could make a meal anytime out of cheese, crackers, salami and condiments. I love pickles and olives- have you tried blue cheese stuffed olives? I think they’re delish. I would love to try Rick’s Picks pickles- that is a mouthful, lol. Pat S