The Cheese Board

June 9, 2010

Years ago, I went to a creamery in south west Sweden that had a cheese buffet. We thought it was the coolest thing ever! It wasn’t all cheese, of course, as there was bread, crackers, fruit,  vegetable, and cold salads, but it was very filling.

How does one go about making a cheese board or buffet? The Cheese Companion: A Connoisseur’s Guide by Judy Ridgway and updated by Sara Hill talk about this subject. They recommend, “Rich or complex cheeses are best served after plain roasted and broiled meats where as hard goat cheese and the traditional English cheeses are a good choice to follow more opulent dishes. Young and refreshing cheeses do well after spicy food.”

They go on to talk about how cheeses of different colors, textures, pungency, and flavor create a more attractive board than if they were all the same.  Ricki Carroll interviewed Steve Jones of the Provvista Specialty Foods in Portland, OR for her book, Home Cheese Making. He suggested to also mix up the type of milk used to make the cheese, so one cheese might be made of cow’s milk, while another is made of sheep’s milk.

For serving, have multiple knives around in case the cheese sticks to the knife. Do not have too big of a big of a board so that it can be passed around. If a buffet is being served, shake things up a bit by serving off of tiles, marble slabs, or wicker trays and other types of surfaces instead. Serving it on a lettuce leaf, or decorating it with fresh herbs, wild flowers, berries, vine leaves, nuts, and other safe and edible vegetation also dress up the display. Offer bread or a neutral tasting cracker.

The preparation beforehand includes covering the cheese and board with something like plastic wrap or a glass dome to help keep it fresh.

Some cheese board suggestions by country in The Cheese Companion: A Connoisseur’s Guide:

  • French: Comté, Brie de Meaux, Chèvre Log, Pont l’Évêque, Roquefort
  • Swiss: Appenzell, Emmental, Sapsago, Tête de Moine, Vacherin Mont d’Or
  • Italian: Fontina d’Aosta, Gorgonzola, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Robiola, Taleggio
  • English: Duckett’s Caerphilly, Farmhouse Lancashire, Mature Cheddar, Stilton, Wensleydale

Other cheese board recommendations in the Cheese Primer by Steven Jenkins:

  • Italain: Mozzerella di bufala, Aged Pecorino Toscano, and Taleggio served withItalian sopresata, roasted sweet red peppers, olives, Tuscan style bread, an a Chianti riserva wine
  • Spanish: Cabrales, Roncal, Mahón, served with chorizo, thin-sliced smoked or serrano ham, dried or fresh figs, almonds, marinated olives with lemon zest or garlic, walnut bread, and a Spanish Rioja bread
  • French: Crottin de Chavignol, Fourme d’Ambert, Pyrénéss brebis served with sweet peppers, radishes, celery stalks, lightly steamed green beans, rustic farmhouse-style bread with unsalted butter, and a chilled white Sancerre wine.
  • American: Maytag blue, Vella Dry Jack, Grafton Cheddar served with medjool dates, honeydew melon, prosciutto, chutney, crusty sourdough bread, and a zinfandel wine.

One Response to “The Cheese Board”

  1. […] some other food to help with cheese fatigue (Years ago, I went to a creamery in Sweden, which had a cheese buffet, and you found yourself taking the pasta salad because you had too much cheese). In my mind, I was […]

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