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Cheese has been popular for centuries. We add it to our burgers, ask for extra on our pizza and melt it so we can dip everything from chips and pretzels to bread and vegetables in it. Archaeologists found a jar of cheese in an Egyptian tomb, proving its importance to the development of the human diet, and cheesemaking was widespread by the time of the Roman Empire.
So offering guests a platter loaded with various kinds of cheese and other food items makes perfect sense. But you can impress friends or family with a bit of cheesy expertise. From using the best cheese slicer to practicing proper placement, these tips will help you create an exceptional cheese board that will wow any crowd.
Be Choosy With Your Cheese
Select a variety of cheeses for your board. Belle English, the test kitchen cook for Williams Sonoma, recommends a flavorful combination of aged, blue, goat, hard and soft cheeses. Of course, some cheese may fit into multiple categories.
It’s also nice to provide labels, so your guests know what they’re choosing. You can buy cheese markers to give your board an elegant look, but toothpicks with printed slips of paper wrapped around them like flags work just as well.
Slice, Chunk And Crumble
First, take cheese out of the refrigerator well before your guests are expected. Let it come to room temperature so that the flavors are at their best.
“The cheese needs to relax,” certified cheese expert Elena Santogade told Food52.
She suggests cutting cheeses prior to serving them, so guests can see examples of how to properly do it themselves. Use the best cheese slicer for even, clean cuts. Provide spreaders for very soft cheese and break crumbly cheese, such as blue cheese, into bite-size chunks.
Provide A Variety Of Bases
Cheese is delicious on its own but even better on top of something else. Offering a medley of choices, such as slices of a crusty baguette, and several types of crackers, such as rich, buttery, crisp rice crackers and a denser, seeded cracker, will let your guests create unique pairings.
You could also set out additional options for people to try, like checkerboard-shaped pretzels and pepper wedges.
Add Sweet And Savory Accompaniments
Cheese is undoubtedly the star of the board, but don’t forget to support the cheese with other foods guests can nibble on. Sweet, salty and tangy touches can add depth when added to cheese and crackers.
For sweets, consider fruit such as grapes, berries or raisins, and honey or preserves to top the appetizers. Savory options could include olives and pickles, nuts or tapenade and mustard.
Make Your Cheese Board Look Appetizing
Remember that we eat with our eyes first, so your cheese board should have a mouthwatering appearance. Arrange large items, like cheese blocks and wedges or containers of olives and preserves, on the board first.
Next, disperse bread, crackers and any meat you’re adding around the board. Finally, fill in all of the empty spaces with smaller items. Abundance is the key to an outstanding cheese board presentation.
Before your guests arrive, create a few example hors d’oeuvres using offerings from the cheese board. Not only can this encourage your family and friends to dive in and enjoy immediately, but they may also be inspired to try new combinations.
Finally, make sure you have plates, napkins and any utensils readily available, along with some perfectly-paired beverages.
Then, let yourself have a little sample — and enjoy!