Nothing says special occasion like a cheeseboard, brimming over with all manner of delightful tidbits and savory bites; it’s the elegant addition to any happy hour or summer event. Overflowing with olives and cured meats, crackers, and dried fruits, we’ll show you how to take your cheeseboard to another more sophisticated level.
A good cheeseboard should include everything you need to create the perfect bite; a great cheese board will provide all the elements to build a dozen different perfect bites. A host of possibilities where there is infinite room to create, change, and riff, using your favorite meats and cheeses. Each guest should be able to walk up and combine something that wonderfully blends sweet, salty, tangy, and umami flavors. Texture also plays an important role in your cheese tray assembly. Luxurious Camembert, crunchy artisan crackers, a delicate piece of salty prosciutto, and a drizzle of honey make a bite that links all those high notes of both flavor and texture. In short, the perfect bite.
For the best cheese board, we recommend a robust assortment of flavorful cheeses. Maytag blue is a sensational option. With its sharp and tangy flavor profile and its crumbly texture, it lends itself well to a sweet accompaniment. Dried fruits like apricots and raisins are an ideal match. A firm and sliceable cheese like Pecorino Toscano or an aged cheddar will give deep umami notes to your board and those delightful little salty, crunchy cheese crystals we all love so much. Finally, something luxurious and mild like a good round of Camembert or an herb encrusted Chevre looks great and offers the perfect foil for any of the bolder flavored meats and accouterment.
The best cheese boards have plenty of meat, offering a diversity of savory flavor and pleasing all carnivores present. We like to use at least two or three different varieties of cured meat. Classic Prosciutto di Parma offers a mild option that will pair with literally anything on the board. Del Toro chorizo sticks offer that quintessential kick of smokey spice. To round out your meats, we love the surprise addition of a jar of duck rillettes. Aromatic and flavorful this traditional French preparation spreads easily and offers deep garlicky flavor.
Crackers and Breads
The vehicles for all your flavorful cheeses, meats, and spreads artisan crackers and crusty loaves of bread offer a foundation to build from, and their wide surface area provides literal transportation from tray to mouth for all those tasty delights. Crispy waffle crackers infused with rosemary, artisanal tomato and olive oil biscuits, and a handful of quinoa crackers offer both mild and flavorful options.
For the ultimate cheeseboard we recommend having both dried and fresh fruits well represented. Adding beautiful jewel tones to your platter fresh grapes, pomegranate arils, or halved figs make a gorgeous addition to the creamy hues of so many cheeses. Dried Turkish apricots,
Medjool dates, even raisins provide intense fruity flavor and the perfect counter to the more assertive flavors of blue cheese and their ilk.
As mentioned texture is just as important as flavor and nuts offer a great crunch. Spanish Marcona almonds with their salty oily exteriors are practically an essential element to any cheeseboard. Walnuts are also a delicious option. Large and flat enough to scoop up softer cheeses or drizzle with honey. Almost any nut will do so be sure to choose your favorites!
Honey and Preserves
A great way to introduce more layers of complexity spreads like fig cream, black cherry and balsamic preserves, even whole-grain mustards can give you an extra sweet or savory element. Honey on the comb is also a great choice offering aesthetic appeal as well as an excellent way to counter zesty blues, Bries, and tangy goat cheeses.
After all, if you’re going to spend the money on good cheese and meat, don’t support it with uninspired pickles and canned olives. Buy a few verdant Hojiblanca olives and a handful of premium cornichons or capers, then dot your tray with the bright red of preserved piquillo peppers to bring color and flavor to your plate! You don’t have to break the bank to make a cheese board as beautiful as a color wheel.
An leafy garnish is a great way to fill in any holes on your tray and add an aromatic element. Try gently layering some grape leaves or fresh herbs around the edges of your cheeseboard. We love rosemary, basil, and mint, for some fresh foliage that will not only taste great paired with your selection of various accouterment but also fill up any lean areas of the board, giving your tray that looks of abundance and bounty that makes everyone at the party gravitate towards the food.
Now for the best part, assembly! Start with your star pieces, ie your cheeses. Layer crackers, slice a few pieces of bread and be sure every pot of preserves or honey has a small spoon or knife for serving and spreading. Allow the board to take shape organically, with a few things hanging off the sides and others tucked into each other. Dot some color here and there to finish off your platter and serve to the oohs and ahhs of all your delighted guests!