Here's how to make the perfect cheese board
Everything you need to assemble a cheese plate that's sure to impress.
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As the former editor-in-chief of Culture Magazine, a publication dedicated entirely to cheese, I know a thing or two about curds thanks to the many cheesemakers, cheesemongers, dairy farmers, and other talented fromage folks I met during my tenure. Below you'll find tips, tricks, and tools for making the perfect cheese board, plus a step-by-step guide.
What you'll need
You can fill a cheese board with pretty much any combination of cheese, crackers, pickles, jams, and other accompaniments, but here's what I like to use for my perfect board.
Cheeses in a variety of milk types and textures
I like to build my board around at least two cheeses, and will add more depending on board size. Varying milk types and textures of your cheeses will create a dynamic tasting experience, plus it's just more fun that way! The milk type is typically found front and center on the cheese's label, but sometimes you'll have to flip over to the back label to find it.
For my board, I selected:
- La Tur, a soft, decadent mixed milk (sheep's, goat's, and cow's) cheese made in the Piedmont region of Italy. This stuff is a little stinky, but its taste is earthy and mild.
- Vermont Creamery Cremont, a silky, pleasantly tangy mixed milk (goat's and sheep's milk) double-cream cheese.
- Jasper Hill Farm Cabot Clothbound Cheddar Cheese, an award-winning hard cow's milk cheese that's got a sharp taste with notes of caramel.
- Fredrickson Farm Garlic and Herb Goat Cheese, a flavorful take on chèvre, a classic goat's milk cheese, made in Maine.
Get creative with your accompaniments (cheese and chocolate, anyone?), or stick to basics. Here are a few of my favorite things to pair:
There's really no right or wrong surface for your cheese board as long as it's big enough to suit your needs. When I'm making a personal cheese board (you read that right!), I reach for my small wooden cutting board with a handle. If I'm serving a crowd I use my favorite cutting board, this colorful chopping block by Fredericks and Mae. Glass plates make beautiful bases for your cheese board, but be careful when cutting directly on the glass.
The proper tools
- Cheese knives, like this set of three Laguiole Cheese Knives
- Assorted small vessels for accompaniments, like this colorful matte set from Anthropologie
- Spoons of varying sizes
Step 1. Remove your cheese from the fridge
This might seem like a silly first step, but trust me, it isn't one you'll want to skip. Cheese is best at room temperature (between 67 and 70 degrees) and should be taken out of the fridge at least an hour before serving. When it's too cold, the flavor is muted and the texture is tight. Conversely, serving your cheese too warm could comprimise its texture.
Step 2. Create a guide
Before removing the cheeses from their packaging, arrange them on the board to create a plan for where you'll place them once you're ready to serve. This method helps to minimize handling and also keeps your board clean.
Step 3. Cut the cheese
Remove the packaging and cut each cheese either in its place on your chosen surface or on a secondary cutting board (my personal preference) to keep things as neat as possible. I like to use a chef's knife to cut hard cheeses before transferring the slices to the board.
Step 4. Add your accompaniments
I'm a more is more kind of gal, so I take a maximalist approach. I like to start by arranging any jars I'm using, like honey and jam, because they help build out the bones of your cheese board. Then, I fill in the gaps by placing crackers, nuts, and other accompaniments directly on my board.
Step 5. Eat!
That's it! You just created your very own gorgeous, tasty cheese board!
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