Sunday, June 3, 2018

Cheese, Please! #nationalcheeseday


Today the Festive Foodies are celebrating National Cheese Day and I'm hosting! Makes sense since I'm a devoted caseophile and I could probably give up any food, except for cheese.

Other Cheese-y Offerings

Cheese, Please!
When I was menu-planning with my soon-to-be 16-year-old, he asked that we start his birthday picnic with a cheese board. "Cheese, please, Mom!" he said. Yep. I'm always down for a cheese board.



Cheese boards are a breeze to assemble but have a high 'wow' factor. And they are undeniably one of the easiest appetizers you can put together. You just need to offer a variety of tastes, textures, and colors. Here's are a few steps to create a beautiful, delicious cheese board for any party.


Step 1: Choose the Cheeses
I like to select an array of cheeses based on texture —soft, semisoft, and hard. You can also go with a mixture of different milk sources—cow, goat, or sheep. Or pick cheeses based on a geographical location. A good rule of thumb is to select four or five cheeses and plan on 1 ounce of each cheese per person. I used seven cheeses - on two different boards (one for the kid table and one for the adult table) - in this case. I've given you some ideas of the cheeses in each texture category...


Semisoft: Havarti, young Gouda, Fontina
Semihard: Gruyère, Manchego (photographed above), aged Gouda, Comté (photographed below)
Hard: Parmigiano-Reggiano, Grana Padano, aged Manchego, Pecorino Romano, Mimolette 
Soft-ripened: Brie (photographed above), Cambazola, Camembert
Blue: Stilton, Gorgonzola
Fresh: Ricotta, Chèvre, fromage blanc
Washed-Rind: Limburger, St. Nuage, Taleggio, Epoisses de Bourgogne

Once you've chosen your cheeses, place them on a board equidistant apart. Remember to take the cheese out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you plan to serve them. If they are too cold, the flavors will be muted.


Step 2: Pick Some Pairings
While cheese can stand alone, of course, you might need a vehicle for putting some of the softer cheeses into your mouth. Crisp crackers or slices of baguette work well.


Step 3: Fill the Holes
When you've placed your cheeses and lined up your crackers, fill in bigger holes on the board. This is where you can have some fun with more colors and more textures. I like fruit for sweetness—grapes, fresh figs, pomegranates, mangoes, and kiwi) — and olives or charcuterie for saltiness. Now fill in whatever space is left with extras such as nuts and seeds (try Marcona almonds, pistachios, spiced pecans, or salted cashews). I even added some small chocolates and cocoa-dusted cashews to round out the boards.


Step 4: Don't Forget Utensils
Last, but not least, make sure each part of your board has a serving utensil where needed. Place small spoons or spreaders next to bowls of jam or tapenade; offer toothpicks for picking up fruit and olives; don't neglect the cheese knives! And, to keep flavors separate, ensure that each cheese has its own knife.

I have an embarrassing number of cheese knives. I even have a traditional Stilton scoop that I swore I needed but have never used. Here's a brief cheese knife guide, but use what you have. 
  • Hard, semihard, and semisoft cheeses can take a spade or a spear-tipped knife.
  • Semisoft, soft, and fresh cheeses need a spreader or a plane.
  • Crumbly cheese (such as blue cheese) and hard cheeses take a flat knife.
  • And a cheese fork can hold hard cheeses steady while slicing. 
That's it! Easy peasy, right? In four simple steps, you can have a colorful, flavorful cheese board that is worthy of a celebration...or just a regular afternoon.


Here's the archery crew, heading off toward a target to work up an appetite before the birthday picnic. I love that these kiddos have been hiking, flinging arrows, and pairing cheeses together for years.

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for hosting Cam. Cheeseboards appear at nearly every party we host.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am always ready for a cheese board, especially one as pretty as this!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love that a 16 year old requested a cheese board. You have raised a very sophisticated young man. I also need more education on cheese boards, so there's that too! Love this theme.

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