1. Choosing the Cheese
• Try to include a variety of textures and flavors, select 3-5 different types of cheese from the four different basic cheese categories: aged, soft, firm, or blue.
• Serve at least one familiar cheese
• Offer a selection of crackers and breads in all different shapes, textures and sizes for guest to pair with their cheese.
• Provide sweet and savory condiments, for ease and convince you use jarred condiments like sweet preserves, honey, and spicy mustard. You can also added things like artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, and olives.
• Include sweet and salty pairings like cured meats such as prosciutto and salami. Add assorted seasonal fruits like grapes, pears or dried fruits such as figs, cherries, apricots and cranberries. For additional texture and flavor add candied nuts or pistachios.
3. Serving Tips
• Separate strong smelling cheeses on different plates so they don’t over power the other cheeses.
• Set out a separate knife for each variety of cheese depending on the different types of cheese.
• The cold mutes the flavor so remove the cheese from the refrigerator an hour before serving.
• Label each cheese so guest can easily identify the different varieties. You could also include a few notes about each variety to give guest an even better idea of what to expect with each different type of cheese on your cheese board. I like using a chalkboard tray (which is actually just a sheet of metal I cut and painted with chalkboard paint) to display the cheese. This way I can write with a chalk paint pen which cheese is which to help guest identify which ones they want to try.
4. How Much Is Enough
• Determining how much cheese to serve can be the hardest part of putting a cheese board together. For an appetizer cheese tray plan on buying 3 to 4 ounces per person, but if your cheese board will be the main event plan on buying 3 pounds for 6-8 people, 6 pounds for 16 and 9 pounds for 24.
Set out small appetizer plates for guest to sample and try their favorites, but don’t be surprised if guest steal little nibbles as they walk by. A beautiful and delicious cheese tray is hard to resist!