Elegant entertaining can be simple with gorgeous handcrafted cheese boards. Treating a few friends to an evening in your home has never been easier. Create a board, then open a bottle of wine, and you are well on your way to a great night!
A cheese board is all you need to serve guests. However, in order to stand alone, the food you place on the board needs to be exceptional and varied. Provide quality ingredients to ensure fantastic flavor and offer an assortment of cheeses with a variety of preserved and fresh foods to add pops of color to the board. With a fifteen-minute investment, you can have a truly artful display. The added bonus? There is virtually no cleanup.
Opt for a sizable board to allow plenty of room for several goodies. Begin with a selection of cheeses; an odd number will keep the board balanced. Place the cheese in the proper order, starting with the softest variety and working up to the hardest and strongest ones. Next, add large ingredients like fruit and bread. Feel free to cut these larger selections into bite-sized pieces or leave them whole for a more casual vibe.
To make the board more satisfying, add sliced meats. Give the arrangement texture by pinching thin slices of salami (or other sliced meat) into floret shapes and piling them high. Last, sprinkle the board with smaller items like nuts, dried fruits, and pickled tidbits.
Creating beautiful cheese boards is a fun and fantastic way to get the weekend off to a yummy start. To replicate this board you will need:
- 1 8-ounce wedge Gouda
- 6-ounce wedge peppered Comté
- 8 ounces blue cheese
- 8 ounces spicy salami, sliced thin
- 1 bunch black grapes
- 2 Honeycrisp apples
- 1 French baguette
- 1 cup Provencal olives
- 1 cup cornichon
- 1/2 cup pistachios
- 1 cup dried apricot
Wine Pairings for Cheese
The main rule of thumb when coordinating wine and cheese pairings is to serve what you like; you simply cannot go wrong this way. If you are offering soft, fresh cheese, pair it with a light wine such as pinot grigio, riesling, or sauvignon blanc. These delicate wines will not overwhelm the mellow cheese flavor. French rosé, Chardonnay, and merlots are a fine match for medium-bodied cheeses like Gouda, Gruyère, or Edam. For firm and strong cheese, select a wine that can enhance bold flavors, such as cabernet, Syrah, or Zinfandel. When in doubt, open a bottle of champagne. It is a perfect match for any cheese!
Other foods found on cheese boards:
- Cherry tomatoes
- Marcona almonds
- Olive tapenade
- Tomato tapenade
- Quince paste
- Foie gras
- Piquillo peppers
- Fruit jam
Cheese varietals ideal for cheese boards:
- Fresh Chèvre
- Fresh Mozzarella
- Aged cheddar
- Monterey Jack
- There are literally thousands of cheese varieties around the world.
- It takes ten pounds of milk to make one pound of cheese.
- Cheese tastes best at room temperature.
- The longer cheese is aged, the harder it becomes.
- The most luscious part of the cheese is found in the center of the wheel.
- The French consume, on average, 57 pounds of cheese a year compared to a meager 23 pounds for Americans.
Buttered Pecan Cherry Compote Over Brie
- 1/4 cup bourbon
- 1/4 cup dried cherries
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 8-ounce wedge of brie
- Pour bourbon over cherries in a small bowl and let stand for several hours.
- Melt butter in a small saucepan. Add sugar, salt, cherries, and any remaining bourbon. Cook until sauce begins to bubble.
- Add pecans and cook until pecans have browned.
- Remove from heat, stir in vanilla, and pour over brie.
Lorie Fangio is a teaching chef and founder of A Taste of Paris™ culinary trips. For more great recipes and to learn about Lorie, find her at www.atasteofparis.net.