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How to put together the perfect cheese board

October, 2020
Words by Natasha Gamra
8 min read
So, you’re in charge of making the cheese board and you have no idea where to start? Let me help you.

A mix of bread, fruits, dips, charcuterie and garnishes have the ability to create a blend of textures and flavours that will pair perfectly with your cheeses.

1. Support your local businesses

Make sure you do your research on this one. Shop somewhere that you trust and know will give you the best quality ingredients. I highly recommend local artisans and boutique stores who stock local produce. Yes, I know the supermarket is super convenient and possibly cheaper but the produce you purchase there won’t be nearly as fresh as those from a cheese shop or the market.

2. The cheeses

Ok, this is a biggie, the cheese you pick will define the entire taste of the board. No pressure though. You want to get a combination to style your board. But where to start? Go by the rule of threes, soft cheese, hard cheese, blue cheese.

Start by looking at the soft cheeses, it’s best to know the theme of the evening’s foods, for example, if you’re looking at Italian cuisine, Burrata, Mozzarella and fresh Ricotta are perfect choices. However, if French is more your fancy, Brie, Camembert and Goat won’t steer you wrong. But if you’re looking for something a little different, I suggest the Port Salut cheese. Produced in France, this semi-soft cheese is made from pasteurised cow’s milk and brings an interesting flavour to the board.

Next up, the hard. You probably know that Cheddar cheese, is an absolute must here. For that nuttier flavour, a Vintage Cheddar will be the perfect pick. On the semi-hard scale, Gouda or Edam should definitely make the cut. Both Dutch cheeses, but each are so flavoursome, it’s hard to choose just one.

We’re going to keep adding to that shopping list with a blue cheese. Another hit to your taste buds, so many people avoid the blues because of the mould, but honestly, they create an intense tangy flavour that pairs brilliantly with a drizzle of warm honey. You can’t go wrong with either the mild Danish Blue or slightly stronger Stilton.

3. The charcuterie

Charcuterie, aka cured meats, is an important member of the board. Many cheese enthusiasts follow the idea of choosing an equal amount of meats to their cheeses. For example, 4 types of cheeses equal 4 types of meats.

Head to a European deli to purchase your meats, because the quality is unmatched to that at the supermarket. The beauty of this part of the process is that you can choose any of the cured meats you love. (Mostly) everything you pick out will taste incredible with the cheeses.

My personal favourite would have to be a dry, spicy cacciatore (salami). With a little kick this will bring your taste buds to heaven. And of course, you can’t go wrong with mild salami, prosciutto, Jamón Ibérico (Spanish ham) and mortadella (Italian sausage).

4. The accompaniments

You might think that adding extras to the cheese board will only improve the board visually, however, the flavours that these goodies bring may just be your favourite thing. This step can sometimes overwhelm people with how many extras you can choose, but my advice? Just go nuts (maybe almonds?).

Crackers are a staple on a cheese board, but you want to get a variety, don’t just stick to Jatz. Change it up with slices of fresh baguette from your local bakery and grab those fancy fig and pecan crackers from Woolies.

Next, line up your ramekins ladies and gents. Quince paste, sweet jams and honey are perfect additions atop your cheese. But if you have time, there’s nothing better than a homemade hommous. Green and black olives, almonds and pecans are also a great thing to pop in these bowls. (P.S don’t forget a small bowl for the olive pits!)

We’re closing out with the fruits and veggies. Both red and green grapes work great, as well as dried apricots, figs, pears and cornichons. These are the top picks for any cheese board.

The goal is to have a mix of sweet and savoury additions that complement the saltiness of the cheese and meats.

5. The arrangement

It is better to prepare the board a couple of hours in advance. Make sure to take the cheese out of the fridge when preparing, because cheese is best served at room temperature.

Take your time picking out the perfect board, for the rustic, traditional look, a wooden board is your go-to but if you’re looking for a more minimalistic vibe, a nice slate will do the trick. If you’ve chosen a slate board, label the cheeses with chalk.

When placing the cheeses on the board, make sure to leave the soft/semi-soft in whole pieces. These are easier for guests to cut, whereas when plating the harder cheeses, you should cut them into equal bite sized pieces. However, if you’re planning on being fancy, pop your Brie (not Camembert please) into the oven at 170°C for 5-7 minutes. The ooziness of this cheese will make for the best dip.

When placing down everything else, you need to make sure that you’re not clogging up any one space. Spread out your bread, meats and dips first, and then fill in any little gaps with fruits, nuts and garnishes like edible flowers and herbs.

Voila, your cheese board should be looking incredibly drool-worthy right now. We’d love to see your pics, tag us @thesundaeagency please