How To Recipe

The Perfect Cheeseboard

Cheeseboards are incredibly popular. They make a filling after-dinner treat and sometimes even replace dinner altogether. If you’re a die-hard cheese lover you’ll have a huge selection in your fridge that’ll make any cheesemonger proud. So to celebrate British Cheese Week (26th May – 1st June) we’ve put together some basic rules to bring the best out of your favourite cheeses.

The Groups

When you’re putting together a cheeseboard, think of your cheese in groups. You should have around 3 to 4 different cheeses, any more and there’s a chance you’ll overload your palate. Choosing one from each of the following groups will give you a nice balance of flavours and textures:

Aged: Aged Cheddar, Comte, Goats Gouda
Soft: Camembert, Brie, Feta
Hard: Manchego, Parmesan, Gruyère
Blue: Stilton, Gorgonzola, Cambozola, Roquefort

A photo posted by Salon (@salon_brixton) on

The 5 Basic Rules of Cheeseboards

1. The Right Amount
Generally it’s agreed the right amount of cheese per person is around 4oz, and it’s better to have a few bits of cheese left over than it is to leave someone hungry for more – especially if your guests are a particularly cheese-crazed bunch.

2. Trust Your Cheesemonger
They're experts at pairing flavours. And they know their cheeses inside out. Tell them what you like and let them work their magic. You'll save yourself the hard work and learn some new favourites in the process.

3. A Knife for Every Cheese
If you’ve got a few distinctive cheeses laid out on your cheese board you’ll need to keep them separate. Use a designated cheese knife for each cheese to avoid overlapping the different flavours.

4. Stick to the Classics
Try to avoid gimmicky flavours like cranberry Wensleydale or chives and onion. Added fruit, vegetables and herbs can overpower the delicate flavours of the cheese. Serving good quality cheeses in their purest form is more likely to please guests.

5. The Optimum Temperature
Remove your cheese from the fridge around half an hour before you intend to serve it. Serving too cold can result in the complex aromas and flavours being lost. You’ll get a full flavour experience when cheese reaches room temperature. Soft cheeses resume their creamy texture and hard cheeses no longer feel dry.

Accompaniments & Presentation

When choosing drinks and condiments to have with your cheeseboard, you can generally get the combinations right if you consider the provenance of your cheese. Generally a light red wine or a heavy white wine will go well with any cheeseboard. But if you're dining on French fromage, then complementing with a French wine is sure to be a winner.

Try and keep your accompaniments simple so you don’t overshadow your cheese. Blue cheese is best paired with something sweet. Grapes or candied walnuts complement the strong piquant flavours perfectly. Softer cheese is great paired with light, crisp crackers to counteract the heavier texture. To avoid taking the spotlight away from the cheese, choose crackers that aren’t overly salty or with herbs added. Bread can also make a good companion for cheese if you prefer, but stick to fairly plain flavours, and be aware that bread may be too heavy after a big meal.

You can be a little creative when presenting your cheeseboard. Serving on a rustic wooden board can bring out the natural beauty in your cheese and fruity accompaniments. Slate is another attractive way to present your cheese, and you can seal your slate board by rubbing with oil before use to close any crevices. For accompaniments, these Mediterranean Ramekins look great and their terracotta appearance adds to the rustic theme of the wooden or slate boards. 

Storing Cheese

Storing your cheese correctly can enhance the taste later. Not all cheeses are made to be kept at the same temperature and some need more humidity than others. Softer cheeses and blue cheese are best kept in the fridge at a lower temperature of around 5 degrees. Harder cheeses can be kept in a cool larder and are fine at a higher temperature up to around 13 degrees.

If your cheese comes wrapped tightly in a plastic coating, remove this as soon as you get home. Cheese is made up of living organisms and you don't want to suffocate them and destroy the delicate flavours they have created. To keep cheese fresh, wrap in grease proof paper to allow them to breathe without drying out.

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