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The Cheese Board: A Host’s Best Party Secret

A 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.

Our 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.