A cheese board is a serving platter onto which an assortment of cheeses is presented to your dining guests. There are many types of these boards available and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some are made of wood, stainless steel and glass. Round and rectangular boards are common favorites with dining hosts.
Essentially, your cheese board is more than just a serving platter. It should also be carefully prepared to whet your guests’ appetites. Whether cheese is eaten as an appetizer, main course or after a meal, consider these factors when putting your board together:
1. Cheese selection
A classic cheese board is often said to consist of no more than five kinds of cheeses. Those that you select should provide your guests with a range of appealing textures, tastes and appearances. You may plan your board according to countries, such as serving either British or French cheeses. Alternatively, you could offer cheeses produced from different milks. Your board could also be themed around the seasons. For instance, popular choices for summer are Saint-Marcellin, Crottin de Chavignol and Epoisses.
Be sure to include cheeses from varying levels of strengths and textures. Guests should be given the opportunity to taste mild, soft cheeses and work their way through to stronger, harder cheeses. Appearance matters as well. Cut and serve cheeses of different shapes, sizes and colors. You may add splashes of color by garnishing your board with slices of fresh fruits.
Your cheese board can be enhanced with bread and wine. Be sure to choose those that compliment your selection of cheese. It is important that your guests are able to appreciate the diversity of cheese flavors on your board. Other suitable accompaniments include fresh fruits and nuts.
3. Presenting your cheese board
Present your board with several knives, one for each type of cheese to avoid mixing the flavors of individual cheeses. For softer, spreadable cheeses, use a flatter knife. A sharp, firm knife is good for cutting hard cheeses.
Ensure that there is sufficient space in between each cheese on your board to prevent them from softening into each other. This is especially important for soft cheeses. Place cheeses with a strong, pungent smell away from those that smell mild. Put small cheeses in the middle, followed by soft cheeses around them. Hard cheeses should be placed on the outermost part of the cheese board as they are tougher to cut.
Cheeses are often best served at room temperature. To achieve this, take your cheeses out of the refrigerator an hour before serving. Hard cheeses may require a longer time to arrive at room temperature though. Leave the cheeses wrapped to prevent them from drying due to overexposure. Remove the wrappings just before serving.
A cheese board is one of the simplest courses to prepare. It affords the host with a creative and artistic challenge while satisfying the guests’ taste buds. Now that you know what a cheese board is, have fun preparing one for your next dinner party. Bon appetit!