Is there anything more welcoming than an abundant, beautiful cheese platter? A cheese board is essential to any celebration, and for me at least, the image of a cheese platter always brings up fond memories of invaluable time spent with family, friends, and loved ones.
We may be in lockdown right now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try to make things feel special at home every now and then. What better to liven things up around your home and to keep spirits high than to put together a gorgeous cheese board this weekend. It’ll be the perfect addition to your Friday or Saturday night, and your family or housemates are sure to be thanking you in the weeks to come (trust us).
Here are our top tips for creating a yummy, balanced, and aesthetically pleasing cheese board.
First thing’s first: cheese. The cheeses you pick should be the heroes of the platter, and everything else on the board should serve to complement these heroes. The golden rule is this: choose more than two, but less than five cheeses that are contrasting in flavour and texture.
Most cheeses belong to one of the following groups:
Fresh cheeses—creamy, moist, and mild. For example, mozzarella, burrata, goats cheese, feta, etc.
Soft cheeses—mild, runnier, and usually have edible rinds. For example, Brie, Camembert, Fromager d’Affinois, etc.
Semi-soft cheeses—mellow, creamy, and earthy. For example, Havarti, Fontina, Munster, etc.
Hard cheeses—dry and savoury. For example, Parmigiano-Reggiano, cheddar, Pecorino, etc.
Blue cheeses—pungent and dense. For example, Gorgonzola, Stilton, etc.
The key to a well balanced cheese plate is to have a variety of cheeses; so go for a hard cheese, a softer cheese, and then a special cheese (for example, a blue cheese or a spiced cheese).
Keep in mind that most cheeses are intended to be enjoyed at room temperature, so take the cheese out an hour or so before serving. Too cold, and the flavours of most cheeses will be somewhat muted.
For softer cheeses like Camembert, we recommend a thicker cracker to add texture; and similarly, for harder cheeses, a thinner cracker would complement it well (or no cracker at all). However, if you’ve gone out and purchased a premium cheese, sometimes less is more, and it’s better to serve it on its own or with a plain cracker so that you can fully enjoy the cheese’s profile.
In terms of flavours, you’ll want to pick crackers that will complement the cheese’s flavours. As a general rule, sugar balances saltiness, and acid complements acid. Think cheddar plus fruitcake, or goats cheese plus pear.
Here, the options are endless. We love serving our cheeses with honeycomb, dips, grapes, pears, quince pastes, pistachios and walnuts, olives, salamis and prosciutto, and even dark chocolate. Get creative and colourful with your board. No matter what you do, the end result will be a gorgeous kaleidoscope of colours.
When it comes to plating it all up, we usually start with the cheeses. We place the cheeses on opposite sides of the board so that they don’t mix together. Once we’ve set the placement of our cheeses, we’ll place the accompaniments and crackers into the spaces between the cheeses. Make sure there’s separate knives for the cheeses to preserve the integrity and flavour of each individual cheese.
It’ll all look chaotic at first, but at the end, your platter will look like an abundant plate of love and indulgence.