Cheese Board Freestyle

Cheese Board Freestyle

Having snacks already out when guests come over is a real life saver. It gives your friends something to stand around, nibble on, and enjoy as you're putting the final touches on dinner, or in my case, running to put on makeup. Because of the cornucopia of colors and textures, it's visually appealing. It takes just a few minutes to put together, and if you do it right, there's usually something for everyone.  

I want to share some of my favorite components for a board, as well as how to arrange them. There are no hard rules, only suggestions. 

First things first, invest in a cheese board. This is something that will make for a beautiful, elevated presentation. When thinking about styling, I tend to avoid wooden boards, unless they are very dark or gray in color. I find they lack contrast (i.e it is a lot of muted browns and yellows). If you can afford to splurge, I love a nice marble slab.

Pro-tip: put it in the fridge beforehand to get cold, which will really allow the cheeses to hold up for a while! If you're looking for something more budget-friendly, slate is an affordable canvas. Keep in mind if you typically only entertain 2-3 friends, you won't need a huge board. The bigger the board, the more space to fill. 

When choosing cheese at the store, choose a blend of texture and funk. The goal is to end up ice balance of mild, medium and downright stinky. Also make sure to balance soft, firm and crumbly cheeses. Here are some of my favorite recommendations.

Start with soft: My absolute favorite cheese, Brillat Savarin, is a triple creme Brie. It is fairly mild and deliciously milky. If you like goat cheese, you can find goat brie or other goat-milk based spreads. I don't love placing regular goat cheese straight onto the cutting board because it always leaves a mess. 

Semi-Soft: I always like to have at least one cheese that isn't super-crumbly, but yields a nice slice. Comté is a great choice, as is young Gouda, Jarlsberg or Taleggio.

Crumbly Cheeses: I'll tell you right now, aged Gouda is a real crowd-pleaser. It's always the first to go, and newbies typically fawn at the crystals inside the cheese. It's a great choice that won't burn your wallet. Some other options are Grana Padano, Pecorino, and the stunning Point Reyes Blue. 

Okay, now you've got your cheeses, and you need some accoutrements. Crackers!!! You need crunch. My favorite is 34 degrees, because they are so light and I can eat one million. I always like to have a tiny pinch bowl with some fruit jam on the cheese board too. It adds a lovely depth to the cracker cheese combo! I typically avoid raw vegetables on the board, but do love to add some fresh grapes or figs.

If you've still got large empty spaces on the board, raid the fridge and pantry. You can add nuts, dried fruits, sun-dried tomatoes, raisins, you name it. Just make sure that all of your cheeses are stationed and cut-into before filling the board. 

And alas- that's it! What are your favorite cheeses to eat and enjoy at a party? Share your thoughts in the comments below

photos cannot be shared, downloaded or repurposed for any reason without written consent, and credit to Jane Poretsky + Be Like Family

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