Gone are the days when Jatz crackers and dips will do for appertisers, so here’s a guide to create the perfect cheese board for your next summer soirée.
Selecting the Cheese
Try to include a variety of textures and flavours. For good variety, choose at least one from each group – aged, soft, firm or blue. Our suggestions from these groups are: Aged Cheddar, Comte or Goat Gouda, Camembert or Brillat-Savarin, Manchego or Mimolette Blue, Gorgonzola Dolce or Valdeón. You can also try selecting cheeses by the type of milk used (cow, goat, sheep). This will ensure a range of different flavours on the plate.
Offer a selection of breads, including sliced baguette, bread sticks, and crackers in all different shapes and sizes. It’s a good idea to vary taste and texture.
Try sweet preserves or honey, tart chutneys and spicy mustards. You can also add roasted red peppers, olives or caponata. If you have a bit more time, prepare caramelized onions, which complement most cheese plates.
Cured meats such as prosciutto and salami, candied nuts and pistachios will also complement the board. Assorted seasonal and dried fruits to include are figs, cherries, apples, and pears.
Wooden boards not only look good, but are a good size for spreading out your cheese board goodies. Separate strong-smelling cheeses. If you want to serve a pungent cheese, place it on a separate plate so it doesn’t overpower more delicate ones.
Set out a separate knife for each cheese, especially the soft varieties. Soft cheese spreads well with a butter knife; firm cheese might require a paring knife; and aged cheese often requires a cheese plane.
Remove the cheese from the refrigerator half an hour before serving as cold temperatures can mute the flavour.
Most importantly, have fun with the decorating process!