Cheese Board Building
Serving a cheese board is an excellent appetizer to invite people to the main course of fine dining -or, a cheese board can be used to as a wonderful way to end a meal. In my European family, the cheese is always served last, as a way to compliment the meal and welcome aperitifs.
When selecting a board, you may want to think about the material it is made from. I have heard many conversations about wood, marble or other materials like: stone, nylon or stainless steel. At the Jensen house we usually use the wooden board or a marble board depending on the cheese. Wooden boards are a traditional way to serve. The wooden board is also more forgiving of a sharp knife edge than say a stone or metal board. Plastic boards have permanent knife draw marks that will never close. The cuts will become unsightly over time and have the potential of holding bacteria, so we don't recommend them.
When we select a board, we need to think of what will be served. Runny, softer cheese I like to serve on a marble board and firmer cheese on wood.
The utensils you need are totally dependent on the types of cheese you select. You can use knives and chisels for firmer or hard cheese, and a wire for softer cheese. You can also try to use different approaches for cheese cutting. Try a firm cheese that is cut in a wedge and the same cheese shaved with a chisel; you might notice a difference in flavour. When you increase the surface area exposed to air, it releases more flavour. We use the wire for the softer delicate cheese so it won't get crushed under the weight of a blade.
Cheese should be served at room temperature. Cold cheese has a numbed flavour, and letting it warm up releases the wonderful savouriness of each. Make sure you serve each cheese with its own knife. It is important to not mix up the flavours on the served pieces. Someone might object to their Brie tasting like Stilton.
Selections for a Cheese Board
Remember that selections are ultimately up to you. We can; however, make a few suggestions.
Having a themed board is an interesting way to tie all the cheese together. A basic way to start would be to select cheese that is all from the same country, like all French cheese, or English cheese. Another board is all milk from the same animal i.e., cow, sheep or goat.
For the more experienced cheese aficionados, you can organize a plate that is more seasonal. I would think of lighter mild cheese in the summer and flavourful hearty cheese in the winter.
Cheese should be arranged on the board by intensity, - mild to strongest in flavour. If you are unsure of what flavours are stronger or milder, our experienced staff can answer your questions.
Serve a more hearty cheese as an appetizer and sweeter cheese for the conclusion of the meal. If you are serving port after the meal, I would suggest hearty cheese, like Stilton. If you conclude with ice wine, I would suggest something light like Camembert. (Although, Roquefort with ice wine is an excellent combination of flavours)
Also when serving cheese you can accompany your board with breads, or crackers. When selecting each, again think of the cheese. We tend to suggest crackers that are mild or plain so you can taste the cheese -the same with the bread. A baguette sliced thinly is a wonderful way to cleanse the palette between flavours. Bread can also compliment the cheese, like fine raisin walnut bread with blue cheese or a hearty rye bread with cheddar.
Having fruit and nuts available is also an interesting way to add more flavour to your cheese board experience.
How many different kinds of cheese to serve, again is ultimately up to you. We usually suggest five, but three works well. For larger dinner parties, you might want to think about ten or fifteen. That way you are sure that your guests will fine a cheese they enjoy.
Some examples of Cheese Boards that we enjoy would be:
Brie, Mont St. Benoit, Double Glouster, Raspberry Bellavitano, Roquefort.
Manchego, Aged Gouda, Smoked Scottish Applewood Cheddar, Jensen Five Year Cheddar, Stilton.
Havarti, Mango and Ginger Stilton, Dubliner, Vanilla Honey Chevrai, Chocolate cream cheese.
Enjoy, and have fun with your cheese board.