Cheese Board Design
After you get your cheese board out...
Step 1: Add Some Cheese
Head to the biggest supermarket in your area and hit up their cheese counter. Grab a mix of textures (soft, hard, and crumbly), strengths (not everyone loves stinky cheese like I do), and colors and shapes (for visual interest). Most of those cheese counters will let you sample cheeses if you don’t know what you’re buying. And many also have a bargain bin where you can get small wedges or wheels for just a few bucks—this is great for cheese boarding!
Like I mentioned above, I don’t normally pre-slice my cheese before it goes on the board – instead, I use cheese knives). There are two reasons for this. First up, I think it just looks better. Perfectly aligned rows of pre-sliced cheese remind of deli cheese trays. There is something really organic and beautiful about seeing the whole wedge or wheel. Secondly, it’s so much easier! Let your guests do the work.
Step 2: Add Salty Things
Part of the fun of eating a cheese board is getting to nibble on lots of different flavors and textures. If you’re not vegetarian (or if your guests who are vegetarian aren’t strict vegetarians), add some charcuterie like prosciutto, salami, or sausage. I also almost always add stuffed olives (in a separate bowl). Olives are polarizing, but if someone loves them, they are really happy to see them. And if they don’t? Well, the olives are quarantined to a bowl and won’t infect the rest of the cheese board. I also like to add some roasted and flavored nuts, too! It’s nice to just be able to grab a few to crunch.
Step 3: Add Sweet Things
Dried and fresh fruit are the way to go to satisfy the sweet factor here. I really love dried apricots because they have such beautiful color. Any fruit you like or have on hand would work. Just make sure to treat fruits that oxidize (like pears and apples) with a fruit preserver before putting them out (I like this one). No one wants to eat brown apples!
Step 4: Add Some Crackers
I like to use a mix of crackers, just because it’s fun, but use whatever makes you happy. I just pile them on the cheese board wherever there are openings. You can always restock if you run low on crackers. I also like to include some crunchy breadsticks. They look pretty and they’re fun to snack on!
You could stop working on your cheese board right here, and it’d be delicious, beautiful, and everyone would love it. For overachiever status, continue on.
Step 5: Add Some Condiments
Condiments are a really fun addition to a cheese board. Some of my favorite options: honey, fancy mustards, jams, and preserves. You can add sauces and chutneys and whatever else makes you happy. This is a really great excuse to use all those little gift jars of jams and mustards and such that people have gifted you (or is that just me? am I the only person that gets 400 tiny jars of jam a year?).
If the bottle the condiment comes in is small enough, I just take off the lid, stick a spoon in it, and call it day. If I need to transfer it (like with honey), I move it into a small jar or bowl to save space.
Step 6: Fill Spaces
This is what will help make your cheese board look really amazing—fill in all the empty spaces. I like to do this with little clusters of grapes. They fill in all the nooks and crannies nicely, and they’re the perfect size for someone to grab and just eat a few grapes. Another good option: cherry tomatoes. Both grapes and tomatoes help add some really beautiful color!
Step 7: Garnish
Finally, garnish that baby. For the holiday season, I love just adding a few sprigs of fresh rosemary—it looks a lot like a Christmas tree, and it smells amazing. I also tend to use fresh sage a lot, too. Is this step important? Heck, no. Does it look good? Absolutely! And it takes about 10 seconds to do.
And that’s it! I know that was a lot of explaining, but honestly, the whole process takes less that five minutes. And look at this beauty!