Cheese Boards are not only the trend, but they are easy to scale. Meaning, they are just as easy to make for two as they are to make for ten! Here are my tips, tricks and flavors of making the best cheese boards!
Picking your cheese:
ALLERGIES! Know everyone's allergies if possible. My friends and family know I am seriously allergic to bleu cheese. If I see it on a cheese board, I take personal responsibility and steer clear! Also, you will NEVER see it on anything I make unless a client specifically asks for it! There is also a possibility that you do not know someone's allergy. In that case, it's smart to mark everything.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE! Besides bleu cheese, my family is not big on goat cheese so that is not usually on my trays. We are more of a cow cheese fan. I try to get a large variety of cow milk cheeses that are interesting and different textures.
ASK FOR HELP! Giant Eagle has an amazing cheese selection. Which ultimately means they have someone who is very knowledgeable about the cheese making all the orders and rotating in the cases! Ask for help in gathering information about cheese. If available, they may even give you a little taste, which is always fun!
CRUNCHY! Giant Eagle has a fantastic selection of crackers, toasts, breads, nuts, dried fruits, ect. The best is to get a variety of flavors and levels of crunch! A nice soft bread that is cut and gently toasted is lovely. Seedy crackers layered with dried fruits go great with a soft cheese. Nuts add a great medium crunch that is not as hard as a seedy cracker but harder than a toasted bread.
SPREADS! Don't underestimate how important spreads are to a cheese board. They are often what I use to make everything stick together as I shovel combinations into my mouth! Try a thick fig spread that almost needs to be chewed as well as a jelly that dissolves onto your tongue. Both add interesting elements!
FRUITS! Dehydrated, freeze dried, fresh, mashed, all work beautifully on cheese boards! Best is to use a combination of all. A fun element would be getting the same fruit in all its elements.
SEEING TEXTURE! Grapes on the vine are great for building height. Find fruits and crackers that add in height levels and different shapes. I like to use star fruit around the boards, they are delicious and look super cool!
CUTTING THE CHEESE! Some cheese like a brie looks beautiful in the wheel with wedges cut. Sharp cheddar cheese is typically dryer therefore crumble. I like to poke it with the top of my knife and twist. The cheese will crumble into fun shapes and sizes building textures on the board. Don't underestimate cheeses cut into a square. They look nice and make cool domino effects!
OPPOSITES ATTACT! If something is sweet, pair with something acidic or salty. Don't be afraid to try every combination possible. If a fruit us super tart, compliment it with a creamy cheese. The fat of the cheese helps tame the tartness of the fruit.
Play with Colors:
OPPOSITES ATTRACT...SEE ABOVE! Crackers carry a lot of texture and flavor but tend to be muted in colors. These muted colors are super important in building a board but having bright contrasting colors make it super appealing! Sprinkle in bright fruits and bright vessels.
USE THE SPOONS! Guess what? The queen is never coming over to use the nice spoons and bowls! GET THEM OUT AND USE THEM! I adapted this philosophy a long time ago when I sold all my possessions and moved to New York! I had very few items to eat off of and had to use all the pretty ones all the time! Why not make every meal special and an event? Give yourself permission to do this. Remember if something breaks (eek!) it stinks but remember it's just stuff!
EAT WHAT YOU LIKE! We love cheese-its and the Himalayan Salt Chips in my house.... they go one most board we make! If you have children or picky eaters, add their favorites to the board! The idea of a board is to bring people together to eat and enjoy company not to make someone feel excluded!
Make the Board:
PREP! Cut and wash everything before you begin to build your board. Once its all prepped, lay everything out.
LARGE ITEMS FIRST! If you are using vessels or jars, add them first so you know they fit! Second is the next largest items like grapes on the vine.
NOW FOR THE CHEESE! Add in the cheeses in different areas at random or in a nice, neat line to create shapes.
CRACKERS & FILLERS! Crackers ad fillers are fun because you can kind of dump them in the empty spaces and let them fall wherever gravity wishes!
FINISHERS! Add in anything that makes fun elements like fresh herbs sprinkled here and there. Tiny spoons and forks are fun. If you are using cheese markers, this is the time to add! This is when I typically add starfruit!
On the Board:
Tillamook Maker's Reserve Cheese, Extra Sharp White Cheddar, 2017 https://shop.gianteagle.com/squirrel-hill/search/product/00072830025270
Castello Cheese, Gouda, Very Mild https://shop.gianteagle.com/squirrel-hill/search/product/00654858704490
Castello Cheese, Dill Havarti Cheese https://shop.gianteagle.com/squirrel-hill/search/product/00093936680026
Tillamook Farmers' Collection Cheese, Aged Cheddar, Extra Sharp https://shop.gianteagle.com/squirrel-hill/search/product/00072830033381
Market District Honey Cinnamon Almonds
Market District Honey Sesame Sticks
Market District Praline Pecans
1 Dragon Fruit
Candy Dreams Grapes
Green Seedless Grapes
Dalmatia Fig Spread https://shop.gianteagle.com/squirrel-hill/search/product/00854858001036
Olina's Bakehouse Artisan Crackers, Cranberry & Sunflower Seed https://shop.gianteagle.com/squirrel-hill/search/product/00854622006434