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.
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.
- 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
- 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.
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.
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. When I am making a cheese board my rule is to pack it with as many things as possible. No negative space!
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.
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
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.
(this is optional but a really good spicy mustard is delicious and also adds a nice color to the cheese board.
My favorite olives for snacking are Castelvetrano Olives. So yummy.
I love Rick’s Picks pickles… they take all sorts of delicious vegetables and marinate them.
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!
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