Winter Cheeseboard 101
Here we are at the peak of holiday entertaining season.
The perfect time to attempt a cheeseboard!
If you haven’t ever put together a show-stopping cheeseboard before, let’s chat about what’s holding you back.
Cost? Yep. Cheese is not cheap. Let’s be real.
Of course, you can tailor your board to what’s on sale (cheese, meat, fruit, crackers).
And, considering the number of guests your cheeseboard will serve as an appetizer, the cost probably isn’t outrageous.
Lack of creativity? Nonsense, I say!
See my red “cabbage cup” for the olives? Creativity. Check!
Too many items — how do they all work together? I’ll show you.
There are a million ways to assemble a cheeseboard. I had a bit of inspiration before I attempted my latest.
#1 was a YouTube video from Bon Appetit
#2 was a Snapchat from What’s Gaby Cooking. I was amazed by how effortlessly Gaby threw the cheeseboard together.
The Snapchat is gone, but she has this How to Make the Ultimate Cheese Plate post on her website that’s really helpful.
#3 was an invite to my friend, Lori’s, Christmas party a few days ago.
I volunteered to bring a “gigantic cheeseboard.”
And so I did!
My finished product measured approximately 3 feet wide and 2 feet deep. I called ahead to make sure Lori had space on her appetizer table to accommodate the board.
I’ve always admired beautiful cheeseboards, but my past attempts seemed to lack something. No “wow factor.”
Now that I’ve had the benefit of Bon Appetit and What’s Gaby Cooking, I have concluded I was holding back.
Don’t hold back!
I watched the Bon Appetit video along with Gaby’s Snapchat and things started to click.
I will share these wise words with you: Abundance is beautiful and delicious!
A nice cheeseboard contains a variety of cheeses. By “variety” I mean mostly, color, texture and shape.
It’s good to present the cheese in various forms — sliced, cubed, spreadable, wedged, etc.
Off to the store I went. I knew I wanted gorgonzola to start.
I also really wanted a full “wheel” of cheese.
I settled on a small wheel of Pecorino (cheese from sheep’s milk) instead of one of those gorgeous, gargantuan and expensive wheels (some day . . . .).
I also knew I wanted a wedge of parmigiano from which the party guests would chip chunks.
Brie and cheddar are givens for me.
Lastly, I chose “ricotta salata.” It’s a firm, aged, slightly salty cheese that I don’t eat nearly often enough!
I loved the way it kind of sliced/crumbled.
Naturally, cheese is the core of the cheeseboard, but the accompaniments are like little tasty treasures.
I placed the cheeses first, starting with the gorgonzola . . .
and situated the other cheeses, going clockwise in sort of a circle. I stuck ricotta somewhere in the center.
Next, I added the meat.
I decided on 2 types of salami. They were both round, but I changed the shape of the thinly-sliced Salami Ungherese by folding it.
I liked that the Salami Ungherese was thinly-sliced. Salami has so much flavor — you don’t need a big, thick slice.
After the meat, I placed honey and fig jam close to the Pecorino because that’s how I hoped the toppings would be used.
The sweetness of the honey and jam compliment the Pecorino perfectly.
I used a couple red cabbage leaves to create a “bowl” for olives.
I piled those olives into the bowl, allowing them to spill over onto the board, creating “abundance.”
Then I placed handfuls of walnuts and smoked almonds where they seemed appropriate.
Any bare spots on that cheeseboard? I filled those bare spots with tomatoes. I could have used herbs instead (rosemary, oregano, parsley, etc.).
What about crackers and bread?
Well, there wasn’t any remaining room on my cheeseboard so I placed another chopping board right up against the first one and spread out the crackers.
I chose crackers with different/contrasting coloring. And I threw on some sliced baguettes (especially delicious with gorgonzola spread all over!)
To me, fruit is an essential part of a cheeseboard.
I found a container to place at the top of the board and I loaded on the grapes and tangerines.
What isn’t shown in this photo are the breadsticks I placed in silver cups so that they stood up. The height was a nice, appealing addition.
I really should have taken a photo at the end of the party. The aftermath.
Let’s just say the cheeseboard was demolished — I mean, greatly appreciated by all those in attendance!
This cheeseboard ran me about $100. There were 40 or so guests. And, of course, there was other food.
If I had more time, I would have thrown together a sun dried tomatoes and roasted red pepper topping for the brie. I would have just poured the topping over the brie and not worried about the fact the brie was room temperature and not hot.
This cheeseboard was fun to put together. It’d be perfect for a New Years Eve party, where people tend to snack all night.