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The Cheese Board: A Host’s Best Party Secret

Baked BrieA truly stylish and delicious way to take your entertaining to the next level is the cheese board. Whether you use a plate, a wooden cutting board or a piece of slate, serving cheese is the smart host’s best party secret. Why? Because picking, pairing and presenting cheeses for your cheese board is simpler than you might think.  Just follow these easy tips and suggestions.

Selecting Your Cheeses

Contrast: The main purpose of a good cheese board is to give your guests as wide a range of experience as possible. Look for cheeses of contrasting texture — soft across from firm, creamy across from crumbly. Create a palette of contrasting flavors as well — sweet to pungent, sharp to mellow.

Be Choosy: If you’re on a budget, opt for one or two fantastic cheeses as opposed to four or five so-so options.

Amount: Two ounces of cheese per person is a good rule of thumb.

Serving Tips

  • People eat with their eyes as well as their mouths — use a rustic butcherboard or slab of natural stone for an appealing, dramatic presentation.
  • Be sure to let your cheeses sit at room temperature for 30-45 minutes before serving. This brings out those lovely nuances of flavor and aroma.
  • Give your cheeses room to settle and breathe—you don’t want to crowd them on the dish.

Breads, Spreads and More

  • Just as with the cheeses, a range of textures in your pairing choices creates a feeling of diversity on your cheese board. Fresh baguette medallions, crunchy water crackers and crostinis are favorites.
  • Jam-style fruit spreads (our sour cherry spread is a holiday favorite), olives, nuts (Marcona almonds are great here), veggies marinated in balsamic vinegar, slices of tart apple or sweet pear, chutney and honey all make wonderful pairings.

Cheese PlateOur Best Holiday Cheese Picks

Melkbus Truffle Gouda: Firm. Rich with flavors of Italian truffles and cream. Great with dry sparkling wines, pancetta and rustic breads.

Rogue Creamery Smokey Blue: Smoked over hazelnut shells. Savory caramel, sweet earthy complexity. Pair with zinfandel, walnuts and grapes.

Mitica Pecorino Toscano Stagionato: Dense, firm sheep’s milk cheese. Nutty with hints of butterscotch. Chianti, fig spread, Marconi almonds, crisp pears match well.

Lincet St. Nuage: Luscious, creamy decadence. Refined balance. Wonderful with sparkling wines, dried fruit, sour cherry fruit spread.

Isigny Ste. Mère Brie: Soft, creamy, buttery. Pleasantly mushroomy. Only at Whole Foods Market®.  Pair with pistachios, dried apricots, prosciutto.

Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery Bonne Bouche: Soft, ash-ripened goat cheese. Subtle notes of fresh earth and hazelnut. Slices of apple or pear, walnuts and artisan honey do well here.

Our Cheesemongers Love Talking Cheese!

They are true experts. In fact, Whole Foods Market has more Certified Cheese Professionals than any other retailer (wow!), and they will guide you to the cheeses that will best fit your needs. Don’t forget to ask for a taste!

And please come to our first Cheese Nights, a chance to taste and learn with our experts, on Tuesday, December 10, from 6—7:30pm. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s full of great information on how to pick, present and pair cheeses for a holiday cheese board. Hope to see you there!

What’s your favorite cheese for a cheese board? Got any tips to share?

From carving with confidence to pouring with pride, our online Holiday Cheat Sheet means more of your best for less stress. Order holiday meals online too; we'll do the work, you'll take the credit.

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Nelly Rospar says …

Do you carry Pont l'évêque cheese? thank you for answer.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@NELLY - Our exact products differ between locations. Check with your local store directly to see what they have in stock!

Lauren says …

Can I order my Christmas cheese in advance and pick it up on Christmas Eve?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@LAUREN - You should totally be able to. Talk with the Specialty team at your local store if you need to special order any cheeses. Otherwise, you might find some holiday cheese platters available to order online at http://wholefoodsmarket.com/online-ordering.

Rafael Quintero says …

Cheese night - which store?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@RAFAEL - The cheese night will take place on 12/10 from 6-7:30pm at all of our stores. Check with your local store for specific details about what they will have going on!

Tracy says …

Just wanted to recognize the cheesemonger over at the Whole Foods in Madison, N.J. Carla is extremely knowledgeable and definitely loves her job. I've learned so much from just listening to her talk for an hour. She is certainly an expert on the topic! The cheese nights that you guys are hosting are a great way to get people familiar with the different types of cheeses that you offer. Excellent idea! Thanks Whole Foods!!!

Alison says …

I have become addicted to St. Nuage, but I recently discovered to my horror that two of my local Whole Foods stores no longer carry it. It seems WF is the sole distributor for this luscious cheese. Can you tell me if/where I can buy it now? With deepest appreciation!

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@ALISON - Unfortunately we don't have a list of each product in our stores. I would suggest reaching out to the cheese vendor directly to see where else they might sell their products.

vickioliver says …

Do you currently carry Belle Chèvre?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@VICKI - Our exact options differ between locations. Check with your local store to see exactly what they have in stock!

RF says …

I found a WF exclusive cheese named St. Nuage this week that appears to be identical to Boursault, which I have been unable to find in the US except via mail order. Is this the same cheese? Who would be in charge of such business within WF? I'd like to ask a few questions of that person. Thanks.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@RF - Our cheese buying is mainly done at the store/regional level. I would suggest checking with the Specialty team at your local store to start to see if they can find more info for you. If they cannot, they should be able to get you in touch with someone from their regional cheese team.

Ken says …

I would like to buy Boursault cheese somewhere in southern Ontario, Canada. (or online) I can't find it anywhere. Any suggestions?