11 ASSEMBLE AN IRRESISTIBLE CHEESE BOARD
There are few things we love more than an abundance of creamy, crumbly, sharp, and stinky delights, ripe for the sampling. Let us count the ways: It can serve as the star of an appetizer spread or, with a few filling additions, a laid-back meal. It allows you to mix- and-match flavors to suit every palate. And it’s easy to execute with aplomb, every single time, if you keep these factors in mind.
STIMULATE TASTE BUDS Your selections should include different ages, textures, and types of milk (cow, goat, sheep). Rule of thumb: Cheeses that look different usually taste different.
MIX TEXTURES Select one fresh, smooth cheese, such as mild goat; and a buttery one with a soft, edible rind, like Brie or Camembert. Add one or two semihard or hard cheeses: Go for a milder one, like Gruyère or Manchego; or a dry, sharp variety, such as Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano- Reggiano. Then throw in a blue cheese (such as creamy Roquefort or pungent Stilton) for good measure.
LOOK FOR DIFFERENT SHAPES For a display that looks as tantalizing as it tastes, opt for one or two wedges, a small round, a wheel of cheese, and a pyramid. If you’re setting out multiple wedges, cut them into different- size hunks.
BUY THE RIGHT AMOUNT Aim for three to five varieties, or up to seven for a larger group. Plan on about 3 ½ ounces of cheese (total) per guest, or one pound per five guests. If the cheese board is a main course, up the per- person amount to five ounces.
LET THEM WARM UP Most types of cheese will taste best after resting for about an hour at room temperature; softer ones (especially fresh goat cheese) need about half that time.
SLICE RIGHT BEFORE SERVING This prevents larger cheeses (wheels and blocks) from drying out. Provide a table knife or cheese spreader for each soft cheese, and sharper knives or slicers for harder varieties.
OFFER LOTS OF DIFFERENT BASES Sliced baguette and water crackers are classics, but crostini, flatbreads, and rustic breads make things more interesting. It’s nice to offer glutenfree crackers or bread (and label them as such), too.