So you’re hosting a holiday get-together? Take it to the next level with a nicely put-together cheese board or cheese plate. From taste to texture to a few of our favorite cheeses, here is an easy guide on how to build your best cheese board.
Follow these top three tips for a no-fail cheese board:
Tip #1: Kick up the Contrast
Look for contrasts in the visual, textural and flavor experience. Here’s how:
Visual contrasts — creamy white cheeses with vivid washed-rinds; bright berries with darker charcuterie; larger baguette medallions with smaller crostini.
Textural contrasts — firm and crumbly with soft, oozy cheeses; fresh breads with super crunchy water crackers; chewy dried fruits with nuts.
Flavor contrasts — tangy, fresh notes in a goat cheese with mushroomy, earthy notes in a Camembert; salty, savory cheddars with smooth, mild Bries; umami charcuterie flavors with sweet dried fruits or tart fruit spreads.
Tip #2: Don’t Overwhlem
Three to five different cheeses is plenty. (A smaller number of fantastic cheeses wins out over a plateful of so-so cheeses). Two different bread and cracker options works great. Add three pairing foods — choose from olives, nuts (walnuts, Marcona almonds, pistachios), marinated veggies, dried fruits, gherkins, fruit spreads, charcuterie — and you’re set!
Tip #3: Give it Time
Unwrap and arrange your cheeses at least an hour before serving. This gives them time to breathe, helping them show off their wonderful aromatics and nuanced flavors. Prepare the pairing foods just before serving.
Label each cheese so your guests know what they’re enjoying. You can label the pairing foods too, if desired.
Purchase your cheeses no more than two days before your event — give them their best chance to shine!
Present your cheeses on a rustic wooden cutting board or a slab of natural slate for a dramatic presentation.
Cheeses We’re Loving Right Now
These cheeses are sure to wow on your cheese plate this holiday.
Hervé Mons Camembert
Hello oozy, mushroomy goodness, flavors reminiscent of a raw-milk Camembert and great vegetal notes. Also look for Camembert stuffed with truffle crème or porcini mushrooms.
Hervé Mons St. Nuage
This is a luscious triple-crème French Brie with mild, creamy mushroom notes. It’s decadent and rich with a refined balance of flavors that comes through in the smooth, almost whipped, texture.
Henning’s Cranberry Orange Cheddar
Handcrafted in Wisconsin by master cheesemaker Kerry Henning, its delightful cranberry and orange flavors and sweet-tart notes match perfectly with the holidays.
Mitica Campo De Montalban
This is a cow, sheep and goat’s milk cheese from La Mancha, Spain. Different grazing grasses and clovers give the cheese a lovely depth of flavor.
Cypress Grove Midnight Moon
Made in Holland, this dense and smooth aged cheese has a slight crunch. Its nuttiness mixes with brown butter up front, then a long, caramel finish.
This is an invitingly nutty island cheese from Minorca, off the coast of Spain. Its classic orange color comes from the paprika-rubbed rind.
Cabot Clothbound Cheddar
This is an approachable but complex bandaged cheddar. Enjoy this crumbly, nutty favorite thanks to a collaboration between highly respected Cabot Creamery and Cellars at Jasper Hill.
Be sure to talk with our in-store cheese experts too. They’ll happily provide expert guidance, let you sample any cheese before buying it and fill you in on more cheeses that are at their best this time of year.
What are some of your go-to holiday cheeses? Any favorite pairings? We’d love to hear about them below!