Fromage. Appropriate at the start or the end of a meal. Proper as a meal in its own right. The secret to a crazy good cheese board is simplicity. Satisfied and not sorry is the end goal. With the signs of fall beginning to emerge, invite a friend for a wine and cheese dinner al fresco while the weather still permits. After all, the last days of Summer are made for intimate nights with a significant other or a few girlfriends getting together for quality conversation, true connection and fine fare.
Keep it simple. For this cheese plate we chose 3 cheeses, 1 meat, 2 seasonal fruit, seasonal preserves and local honey. Cheeses include aged White Cheddar, Saint Andre and a Stilton Blue. Meat is always optional and if you’re unsure of your guests dietary restrictions think about putting any animal products on separate serve ware. Lastly, don’t forget something sweet! Include a little honey or fruit preserves, dark chocolate or caramel. We used local honeycomb and fresh fig preserves.
Stay seasonal. Start by selecting seasonal fruits and vegetables. Prolific in Fall, pomegranate and apple are two lovely fruit to pair perfectly with robust cheeses. Select nuts and seeds as well as pickled and preserved fruits and veggies in late fall and throughout winter. Pistachios are one of my favorite. Switch to fresh berries and stone fruit in the Spring and Summer.
Pair Appropriately. No cheese board is complete without the right wine. When selecting wine take into consideration the setting and guests in addition to the menu. A crisp, chilled Rose would pair perfectly on a Summer afternoon with a few girlfriends. Opt for a robust Red like a Pinot Noir or Petite Syrah for an intimate evening on a winter night. I love to pair a strong, stinky cheese with a light Prosecco. A rich menu should team with a bright wine. Vice versa, pair a sturdy wine with a light spread. Unsure? Ask where you buy your wine!
Versatile vessels. Get creative with crackers. Sliced fruits and vegetables like Apples, Pears, Cucumbers and Persimmon are a fun and flavorful way to add depth and dimension to your cheeses as well as texture and color to your presentation. Crackers come in all shapes and sizes. Choose at least two types of crackers to join a fruit or veggie. Buy a baguette and break bread or slice on the bias before toasting in the oven for a crusty crostini. A good cheese board can become great with the proper vessel. A crisp slice of apple, aged white cheddar, a sip of smooth Summer wine. Superb.
Parchment perfect. Using parchment or wax paper can make clean up a breeze with minimal waste and damage to surfaces. Using a sheet can keep cheeses, preserves and honey from absorbing into porous wood and stone surfaces. Often times I will wrap the last morsels of cheese in the remaining paper to enjoy another time, minimizing waste and allowing the cheese to breathe. A single sheet of parchment paper helps to entertain in style with an easy clean up!