The classic cheeseboard can be both the easiest and the most appreciated addition to any cocktail or dinner party. But a truly elegant one takes a little more effort that wandering up to the cheese aisle of your favorite market and grabbing everything that looks fancy.
Fromage expert Charles Duque knows a thing or three about serving cheese. He’s the Managing Director, Americas for CNIEL [French Dairy Board] oversees the French Cheese Board, a retail and event space promoting French cheeses in Soho to consumers and media. He’s also worked in cheese our other favorite food, chocolate, for over a decade, and is a Maître Fromager in the International Cheese Guild. Is he in the ideal profession or what?
“I think variety, using different textures and colors makes for a visually interesting board,” Duque told ReallyRather. “You want to organize your board so that cheeses are arranged from mildest to strongest. For example starting with a creamy soft-ripened bloomy-rind like Camembert, Brie or Triple Crème, then a harder cheese like Comté or Mimolette, a washed-rind like Langres or Epoisses and finish off the board with a blue such as Bleu d’Auvergne or Fourme d’Ambert.”
He adds that a cheeseboard wouldn’t be complete without non-cheese items. He suggests you “Add seasonal fresh or dried fruits, nuts, charcuterie, crackers, jams and chutneys to allow for experimenting. For example, some people find bleus too pungent but if they drizzle a bit of honey, it changes the entire experience.”
Then there’s the surface it’s presented on. “Do not forget that the board itself – wood, marble, stone or slate – it’s part of the presentation,” says Duque. “Dark colored boards make the cheese stand out. I always like to cut into the cheese and place a knife per cheese to avoid flavor transfer or blue mold on my triple crème! Sacré bleu!”
Top 5 Musts for the Perfect Cheeseboard
- Use an odd number of cheeses — 3, 5, 7, etc.
- Mix colors and textures – creamy, soft-ripened, harder cheeses, washed-rinds, bleus,
- A beautiful board itself makes for a beautiful cheese board
- Add accompaniments – fresh and dried fruits, nuts, crackers, honey, jams, olives and charcuterie are some examples.
- Arrange the cheeses from mild to wild! That way your palate will be able to savor each cheese as they increase in intensity.
The perfect cheeseboard doesn’t just happen. This French fromage phenom fills us in on how to do it with elegance and élan.