Charcuterie boards seem to be all the rage these days. While we have already covered making large meat-based charcuterie boards, with the holiday of Shavuot approaching and its concentration on dairy, I figured it was time to address how to make a smaller cheese board. This is one of those times were the quality of the ingredients really makes a difference. As cheese boards are fairly simple, you cannot hide behind technique. When I am looking for high quality cheese that is beyond the basics, I go with The Cheese Guy. No, they are not sponsoring this post but I really do believe they carry some of the best cheese on the kosher market, available in the US. (Of course if they wanted to work something out, I would be happy to work with them. Brent Delman, have your people call my people).
I created three options, allowing you to tailor your experience around how how courageous you are, and how many people you are. Each level will be provide a “center of the plate” cheese” along with a some supporting cheeses and some an accoutrement to round things out. I plated each one on a bamboo cutting board, but any nice tray should work. Finally, what is a cheese board without wine? I have included The Cheese Guy’s recommendation for each of the “center of the plate cheeses as I am definitely not a sommelier.
Beginner Level Cheese Board
We start out with something dry, something soft, and something goat:
Asiago shaved into thin strips with a vegetable peeler. I think of asiago as parmesan’s funkier cousin.
Gouda, a creamy soft cheese, cut into cubes. This one is a great melter, for your next grilled cheese or mac and cheese.
For your “center of the plate” cheese go with a whole log of Classic Goat Cheese (drizzled with honey if you want to be fancy). If you like cream cheese, but you want to take it to next level, goat cheese is where it’s at.
Serve with Ritz-style snack crackers and little jam on the side. I like a good strawberry jam, but raspberry or fig would also work nicely.
As far as wine in concerned, to go with the goat cheese, the fine folks at the Cheese Guy recommend a Sauvignon Blanc
Intermediate Level Cheese Board
We are going to take everything from our beginner level board and add the following:
For your “center of the plate” cheese, we are going to introduce some sliced fresh mozzarella. Drizzle with a balsamic reduction or some good olive oil if you want to be fancy. This comes in a ball or a log and can be a little tricky to slice. Make sure and use a good, sharp knife.
I am also adding a Raw Milk Vermont Artisan Cheddar, sliced thinly, for a little sharpness.
Upgrade your cracker game by adding something with a little more texture and flavor. One of those mixed party packs that comes with several varieties in different shapes is great for this application along with some mixed nuts for some texture and earthiness to cut the richness of the cheese.
The fine folks at The Cheese guy recommend White wine, pairing the mozzarella with Pinot Grigio.
Expert Level Cheese Board
For our expert level we are going to take everything from our intermediate level and add the following:
For your center of the plate it is time get in to something runny, the Vermont Bloom Brie Style cheese*. Brie is generally served at room temperature or warm. (You can also hit this one with honey is you want be fancy, or just use the jam.)
And as if weren’t funky enough we are going to add feta* cheese, for its briny flavor and crumbly texture.
Add some dried fruit and instead of crackers we are going to up our game with crostini. For those of us who don’t speak Italian, those are “little toasts” made from a baguette sliced on a bias and placed under the broiler until lightly browned and the edges just begin to char.
Finally, it is time to break out the bubbly for this one. Pour yourself a flute of some Champagne or Prosecco.
This should just be considered a guide in your journey through wide world of cheese. Feel free to make a cheese board your own. Prefer blue cheese to feta, go ahead and switch it out. If you want to add some fresh fruit to your board, grapes and sliced melon are a welcome addition.
What’s your favorite type of cheese? Let us know in the comments.
*Note that these cheeses are being played by their understudies in this picture as due to poor planning on my part I was unable to get the official “The Cheese Guy” version.