Assembling the perfect cheeseboard has become essential to entertaining at home. A photoworthy spread and a few good bottles of wine is an easy way to impress your guests.
What we love most about cheeseboards (apart from cheese) is the fun in putting them together in a creative way. The possibilities are truly endless. If you haven’t put a board together before, the task may seem intimidating – which is why we called in our friends at The Cheesemongers, a Winnipeg-based fromagerie, to give us tips and tricks for putting together an enviable spread. Just in time for spring and summer hosting!
The Cheesemongers – Meg Gifford and Courtney Dhaliwal // Photo by Joel Wiebe
Ask Your Local Cheesemonger
1. Our most basic rule is to start with the very best cheese. Farmstead or artisanal cheeses are made using traditional methods by dedicated cheesemakers, from fresh, nutritious milk, rather than in a factory. You can pick these up from your local fromagerie.
2. Note the occasion. Tell your cheesemonger what the cheese is for. A formal party or a casual get-together? The cheesemonger might ask what you like and don’t like, and how many people will be eating it.
3. Serve a variety. Go soft to hard clockwise, with blue at the end.
4. Don’t be afraid to try something new. It may smell funny. It may be blue. It may be as old as a history book, but, try it anyway – you might just fall in love with it!
Choosing the Right Cheese
1. Recall this easy rhyme when choosing your cheese: something old, something new, something goat and something blue.
2. Make sure you choose a good balance of flavours (strong to mild), textures (soft, semi-soft, semi-hard and hard), colour, shapes and sizes.
3. You only need 4-5 cheeses for a crowd.
4. Make sure you have a variety of milk types on your board: goat, cow, sheep, even water buffalo!
1. Note the number of people you’re serving. Generally, the rule of thumb is 2 oz. – 3 oz. per person, depending on what else you’re serving at the party.
2. Set your cheese out on the counter one hour before you plan to eat it. Room temperature cheese reveals flavour profiles that cold cheese doesn’t, and it’s simply more delicious. (Cheesemonger Hint: cover your cheese in a slightly damp cloth to keep the moisture locked in).
3. Labelling cheese is a good idea, especially for more cautious guests. Note the name of the cheese, its country of origin, and the type of milk on a small tent card, or cute label.
4. Tips for serving wine – the whiter and fresher the cheese, the crispier and fruitier the wine should be. The harder and darker the cheese, the heavier and richer the style of wine may be. Step outside the box – try pairing washed rind cheeses with a lighter red, or craft beer!
1. Never pour, dump or drizzle jam, compote or chutney onto the cheese. If you’re serving a few accompaniments on the board, do just that – accompany, don’t messy up the cheese!
2. Don’t go too crazy on pairings – choose a thinly sliced baguette (over crackers), in-season fruit, one jam or compote and one or two savoury options like olives, salami, nuts or mustard. The traditional accoutrements are always easy, but don’t be afraid to try something unexpected. Things like honeycomb, chocolate or pickled fennel make fun additions to a board.
3. Fresh, non-sprayed florals or greenery is The Cheesemongers’ signature mark. It adds a pop of colour – especially this time of year.
Knives and Boards
1. Traditional wooden boards with a handle like this one are perfect for serving. Or, try marble (like the Coast Marble Cheese Board), ceramic and glass cake platters, shallow bowls or plates. Cutting boards (wood or marble) can double as a cheese board.
2. Each cheese should have its own knife. Try the EQ3 Ridge Cheese Knives (3 Pc Set).
Set the Table
1. Set the table for the occasion. Go simple with a neutral runner and napkins, or pick a playful print by Marimekko. Add a candle to create a relaxed environment, but be sure it’s unscented.
2. Keep side plates and utensils on hand for those less brave to eat with their hands.
3. Set out glassware for your whites and reds (we like the Terrace glasses for their inward turned lip – great for preventing any spills at your party), beer and sparkling or flat water.
With these tricks in tow, your guests will surely be capturing your very photoworthy spread via Snapchat and Instagram.