Cheese Board Basics
Readers often email for tips on putting together a cheese board. Here are a few suggestions:
Pick a theme.
When in doubt, choose a variety of cheeses from different milks – cow, sheep, goat, and if you can find it: water buffalo. You can also put together a cheese board by country (French, Italian, or Spain) or pick American all-stars. Here are some of my favorite combinations: monastic cheeses and beer, triple cremes and bubbly, a variety of blues and barley wine.
Let your cheese relax.
Set out your cheeses before guests arrive. Cheese is always best served at room temperature. Cover your cheeses with some damp cheese cloth or a damp kitchen towel so that they don’t dry out.
Baguettes, baguettes, baguettes.
If you spend a pretty penny on gorgeous cheese, for heaven’s sake don’t put out sad crackers. A slice of plain baguette is the best raft for a gorgeous mouthful.
Don’t stress about accompaniments.
Put out some honey, dried fruit, olives, a few nuts, and some cured meat. Don’t worry about perfect pairings. Guests will have fun mixing and matching.
When in doubt, go for white wine or beer.
Subtle cheeses are easily overpowered, especially by heavy reds. A good bottle of Sauvignon Blanc is my go-to white for cheeses, along with an assortment of light lagers, fizzy Belgians, and nut brown ales.
Store leftover cheese in waxed paper.
Tight plastic suffocates cheese, which is a living, breathing entity. Wrap your hunks in waxed paper, then drop them into a roomy Zip-Lock. The vegetable drawer is the best haven for leftover cheeses because it’s the coldest part of your fridge.
To toggle your cheese brain, check out the “Resources” link on the menu bar. It’s got a list of useful cheese books.