Cheese boards are quite a common go to for a dinner party or a gathering with friends. They are typically seen as quick but show that you have some knowledge and an eye for delicious cheeses.
But are you fully maximizing the flavors and quality of the selected cheeses? We want to help you expand your cheese board ideas and really impress your guests with stunning cheese boards that they will envy!
How to make a cheese board
Choose cheeses to highlight flavors
There are numerous options when it comes to making a cheese board. For example, you can make a fancy cheese board if the event you are hosting requires elegance. But the most important thing to remember is to select certain elements and reflect that on the board. For instance, it is possible to choose a theme that you would like to follow and therefore all the foods demonstrate that theme.
Examples can be seen in selecting all Spanish cheeses, French or cheeses with a Denomination of Origin (D.O.). It is important to have this in mind, so the cheese platter is more cohesive. Another option is to stick with cheeses that you enjoy, but then play around with the accompanying food to really highlight flavors and textures. Either way, it is important to have a wide variety to make the cheese board enticing to your guests.
The cheese board is important too
Now, it is also noteworthy to choose the most adequate board for the cheese. This will also set the tone for the way you style the board. We highly recommend that the cheeses be placed on a wooden cheese board. The wood will be resistant to cutting and will not absorb cheese odors. Plus, they look very elegant and add a level of sophistication to the occasion. You can even buy personalized cheese boards if you enjoy preparing platters for guests. There is also the option of using slate boards. These are made from natural stone and can give your cheese platter a more modern appearance.
What amount of cheese to serve?
Lastly, the type of cheese platter board you select will also determine the amount of cheese that can be served. Particularly, if you select a large cheese board then you can opt for 5-8 types of cheeses. On the other hand, a medium sized board can hold 4-5 varieties. The lowest number of cheeses you should include in your custom cheese board should be 3. This is because it is essential to offer your guests a nice variety that they will enjoy.
What to put on a cheese board: assembling an awesome cheese board
Be creative and play around
Obviously the cheese will be the star of the board, but the accompanying food is also something to think about. This is where you can be creative and play around with textures, flavors, and colors. The accompanying food is supposed to add fun elements to cheese. This can mean sweet or savory. In fact, it is necessary to have both flavors on the board to add excitement. These foods can enhance your cheese board to a new level as well as play with the tastebuds. The basic foods that can accompany the cheese are the following: bread, fruits, jams, honey, nuts, olives, and cold meats. Here we will break down the importance of each element.
Everyone knows that this pairs perfectly with cheese. Simply place the cheese on a piece of bread and it evolves to a simple tapa. But there are wide varieties of bread to choose from and we highly suggest refraining from buying the typical white bread. This is a time where you can experiment with the breads available to you especially with artisan and sourdough bread options. A rustic white bread that has a crispy crust adds a nice crunch. Or you could opt for rye bread with a juicy and acidic crumb that adds a little kick to the cheese. If you are feeling adventurous then you can select a multigrain bread with seeds or dried fruits to stimulate the palate. Another tried and true staple for the cheese board is the cracker. This adds a much-needed crunch to what otherwise is a very soft food.
This can be either dried or fresh. The dried fruits can include fig cake, date cake, apricots, prunes, dates, and figs. You can really play around with sweeter and juicer fruits with acidic and crunchy properties such as green apples and pears. This adds an unexpected flavor to the board. It is also common to use figs, blueberries, apricots, and grapes. There is an Spanish proverb “uvas con queso saben a beso” that is “grapes with cheese taste like a kiss”. This is expressive enough!
Don’t overlook adding a jam to your board! They should be a staple because the texture is so different and requires people to experiment a little more. Jams that are more acidic with good texture and pieces of original fruit combine best with the cheese. The staple jams to include are mango, bitter orange, and strawberry. If you are feeling more adventurous then you can opt for currant, raspberry, blackberry, black cherry, bell pepper, and onion jams. These can add an unexpected twist.
This is a wonderful pleasure to the senses. It pairs exceptionally well with any type of cheese. So why not give it a try?
Like what we mentioned before, the cheese board needs some sweets to combine well with certain cheeses. Hence why you may find it useful to add honey. This could be a great way to try that new local honey you’ve been eyeing up.
A handful of nuts adds a nice crunchy touch. You can place a variety of nuts to please more people. Typical nuts that pair exceptionally well with cheese are Marcona almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pistachios, and walnuts. These also can add a little saltiness to the cheese to help balance out the sweetness of the fruits.
Olives and pickles
The tartness from these foods can pair nicely with cheeses. Take a look at our gourmet variety. They range from the classical cocktail olives to spicy gordal. We are sure that you will find the right jar to add more flavor to your cheese board.
These pair perfectly with any type of cheese. We suggest using sausages, baked ham, salami, peperoni, and chorizo. These cold meats can add a special touch to the cheese plate.
The organization of the cheese board needs to be done in a logical manner. The cheese should be organized with the mildest flavor on the left and then move on to the strongest on the right. This way your guests can build up to that level. The accompaniments can be placed anywhere on the board as a decorative element. So, they can be used to fill in the gaps to assure that the board is full of delicious food. Another tip to remember is to take the cheese out of the refrigerator about an hour before you are planning to serve. This way the cheese can breathe and regain its original flavors.
Best cheeses to place on your cheese board
There are cheeses for all tastes that have an endless variety of shapes, textures, aromas, and flavors. There is no limit to the types of cheeses you can select for your cheese board. We recommend using artisanal cheese because the quality is much better than industrial cheeses. Plus, more care and thought are considered during the maturation process. For a cheese board to be successful it is essential to consider the different characteristics of cheese. After all, they are the main star of the board, and it is important to value these qualities to make the platter exciting.
Here are some characteristics to think about when selecting cheese:
Such as goat, sheep, or cow. Each milk produces a unique flavor. You can check out the varieties in our article about Spanish cheeses.
Here you must think about hard cheese, semi-hard, soft, blue, and the spread ability of the cheese. A good cheese board will have multiple textures to tease the palate. Blue cheeses that add character to any board are Roquefort or Cabrales. Don’t be afraid of moldy cheeses but instead give them a try. You may just discover an incredible new flavor! But for those of you a little skeptical of going out of your comfort zone, we recommend a softer cheese such as a goat cheese roll.
Type of rind
What will the rind on the cheese look like? Will you choose a washed rind? Or something moldy? Don’t forget about the pressed rinds. If you want to be a little bolder then you can select cheeses that have herbs or spices in the rind.
You can add soft cheeses to begin with and then gradually build the intensity. A soft cheese option could be Brie, Camembert or Galician cheeses like Tetilla or San Simón. A great semi cured option would be Mahon cheese or Murcia al vino cheese. Next, you can add cured cheeses such as Manchego cheese. And finally, the aged cheeses such as Parmesan or Old Manchego. Your cheese board can include one of each level of maturity or it can focus on a single group. This all depends on the mood of the event and what you aim to share with your guests.
Some cheeses are more intense than others. It ranges from fresh like mozzarella to very strong such as blue cheeses.
Another important quality to look for in a cheese is where it is produced. This can help you if you want a D.O. cheese such as Murcia al Vino cheese.
Of course, these are all suggestions to improve a cheese board. If you are passionate about a particular cheese then another option is to organize the board around that variety. In this case you can play around with different maturities or with different types of the same maturity. The idea is to customize the cheese board to the occasion and to your preferences.
How to cut the cheese properly
To some people this may seem trivial, but the cut of the cheese can be a make-or-break thing. Not all cheeses should be cut the same. As the host you should be aware of how to cut and serve the cheeses the correct way.
Here we will break down how the cheese should be served based on its characteristics:
Should be cut into triangular portions. Suggested for Camembert and Brie.
Require the cut to be in cubes or bevels. Best for Roquefort and Cabrales.
Ought to be cut into irregular pieces. Used for Parmesan or Gran Padano.
Can be cut into wedges or rectangles with part of the rind like Manchego or Mahon.
Cheese with holes
Should be cut in rectangular portions. Suggested for Gouda and Emmental.
Should be cut into wedges first and then each wedge into triangular slices. Best for Manchego and Murcia al vino.
Ought to be cut into strips or sticks. Best used for Cheddar.
Suggested to be cut thinly so that it is not too overwhelming or strong.
This is to guide you on your journey of presenting the most envious cheese boards to your friends and families during gatherings. It’s a nice way to express yourself and your love of cheese. To find more inspiration we suggest checking out Karem at The Modern Host. She has a wonderful talent of turning ordinary charcuterie boards into works of art! We are confident that everyone can learn a thing or two about organizing a charcuterie board from her.
As always, we hope that you have learned a little something new about the Mediterranean diet and the Spanish culture. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them down below. We would love to hear what you have to say!