One of my favorite “noshes” is composed of a beautiful variety of flavors, colors, and textures. Cheese boards. Spreads of complementary and contrasting items, full of great potential. Rustic, edible beauty.
When creating them at home, an ideal characteristic of cheese boards is that they can be assembled on a relatively small budget with just a couple of cheese selections, or they can also become impressive, gourmet presentations, depending on your chosen items.
We’ve had some pretty delicious boards in restaurants that have included spiced or sweet nuts, salty olives, ripe and dried fruits, and savory meats alongside carefully-selected cheeses. Typically, cheese boards will also offer a variety of cheese textures, showcasing both hard and soft varieties.
For the very simple cheese board above, I served a solitary cheese with a variety of other “accessories.” This one wasn’t prepared to entertain – just to serve as a light lunch/snack at home. Dried apricots and Montgomery cherries nicely juxtapose the tanginess of this extra sharp Cheddar from New York, while the freshness of a crisp apple provides somewhat of a palate-cleansing effect in between bites of rich cheese. I just cut the Cheddar into small pieces for convenience when it’s just my husband and me, but whole wedges are more presentable. My favorite crackers to serve are thin, crispy rounds called Carr’s Table Water Crackers; they don’t interfere with the subtle nuances of cheese and have an irresistible, light crunch. Roasted or salted almonds or candied walnuts would’ve been a perfect addition.
Other delectable items include fresh grapes, figs, slices of proscuitto or salami, small slices of fresh breads, honey, and preserves.
While Velveeta or Kraft cheese slices won’t quite make the cut for a respectable cheese board, you don’t have to go overboard and buy the most expensive cheeses available. A small variety is nice, though. Keep in mind that aged cheese are typically harder and saltier, usually packing a potent punch. Creamy, soft Brie or Camembert, or tangy goat cheeses are also tasty selections for boards. I happen to love blue cheeses, but the daunting, “moldy” veins may be off-putting for some of your guests.
Presentation should include a variety of shapes and colors, and the cheeses should be served at room temperature. We were gifted three gorgeous Acacia wooden cheese boards for our wedding, but simple wooden cutting boards can serve the same purpose.
…the possibilities are vast.