Lets chat about cheese. Interestingly enough I am allergic to dairy, a devastating discovery I was in denial about for the first 26 years of my life. Until I found an allergist, what he explained to me was astounding. You crave what you are allergic to. What? Really? No way! I love Cheese, Butter and all things dairy. I love the creaminess, I love the way it makes a dish savory, or adding a pat of grass-fed butter to olive oil in the sauté pan and watching it do a magical dance to the vegetables I am cooking.
Now cheese does not equally feel the same about me, as it gives me chronic migraines, ear infections, sinus infections, brain fog and well the list goes on. Since my discovery of my dairy allergy I have given up dairy completely. Much to my surprise life has been smooth sailing without it. These days I find myself entertaining with Cheese instead of eating it, channeling my inner love of it towards others instead. Making cheese plates is a great communal food, conversation food most of all its an easy thing to throw together for any occasion. When it comes to putting together a cheese plate there are basics to follow, but you don’t have to be rigid about putting something amazing together!
Cheese board Building 101: building your board
So we don’t over complicate things I will simply stick with the basics here. This will be a simple single cheese board with 3 cheeses, for about 2-4 people. If you have more guests and are having a dinner for a party of 6- 8 people I would just simply do the same for one more board of 3 cheeses, or one more with 5 cheeses. It really depends on if you will be serving other food later in the evening. Sticking to 3 to 5 cheeses keeps it simple and doesn’t overwhelm anyone.
Materials and Ingredients:
-Wood, Slate or Marble cheese boards.
(Note: Sticking to these surfaces makes the food look lively and appealing.)
3 – 5 Different Cheeses, a Goat, a Sheep and a Cow
(note: these could consist of: sheep Brie, grass-fed cow cheddar, and soft goat chevre. Or if you are unable to find a mix of GOAT –SHEEP- COW, stick with a regional theme. You could get All Irish cheeses, French cheeses, or an assortment of local cheeses. Remember their aren’t any “rules” and whatever you choose will be great!
-Layering items: Fig Jams, Raw Honey, or even fresh preserves. Salted nuts, Olives, or Other antipasti like cured meats or wild Alaskan smoked salmon items work well. Fresh berries, or seasonal fruit is a nice touch.
(Note: The key here is use what you have in the fridge first, then hit the store.)
1 loaf of Bread, or Crackers or both:
(note: Sourdough, French Baggett’s or Country loaf bread. Hearty Crackers such as Mary’s superseed (which are gluten free). Water crackers or artisan crackers are a nice touch.
Mix of Red/ White Wines and Beer:
(Note: handy staples; French Pinot Noir, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, and either Prosecco or a bubbly Rose’. These are all easy sipping wines that aren’t too heavy or light. There is no need to fuss over the perfect pairing wine, just grab your favorites. Or even encourage your friends to bring their favorite to share! Beer: Local brew, or Stella Artois is always a hit.)
Extras: Cheese knifes, table cards with cheese labels on them, Pellegrino (sparkling water), basil or mint herbs to garnish.
Directions; Building a cheese board
Take your cheeses and place them on the plate. Assort them a few inches apart from each other. Then add in your honey or jam. Place your berries, nuts, garnish around the cheeses, mostly to one side of the plate, most people place these items to one side, because people are cutting their cheese in the other direction. Then place cards of the names of the cheeses around them, you can add your olives or meats to the same board or in bowls next to it. I usually try to make the board so full that its almost running off the board, or you could do the opposite and do it really simple and minimal. Either way I try to add a garnish to give it some color!
When picking out your cheese, head to places like Trader Joes. If you are on a budget, you can get your whole spread their for under 100; including wine, bread, crackers, cheese and so fourth. If you aren’t on a tight budget head to a local cheese market or even whole foods, they tend to have a larger section to choose from. Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask questions! There are lots of friendly people there to help you along your way. Good Luck Friends, happy entertaining!