Okay before we begin… I love to entertain! I haven’t done a lot of entertaining coverage over here but now that I live in a space that can handle more parties (and I can photograph them), is that something you want to see more of? I had friends and family over on Saturday night and got a bunch of questions about the cheeses I chose, so I thought I’d put together a little post about it.
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. 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.)
My favorite places to buy cheese are Murray’s Cheeses (in Manhattan) and Bedford Cheese Shop (around the corner from me but there’s one in Gramercy too). Whole Foods also has a terrific selection of cheese.
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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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. 🙂
My favorite salami right now. Bedford Cheese Shop sells these and I’ve tried ’em all. This one is the best.
What to pair it with!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!