Lately, I’ve been obsessed with creating cheeseboards. They’re my “go-to” appetizer for dinner parties and friends’ gatherings. Memorial Day weekend is just around the corner….While cheeseboards may not be the healthiest option for a starter, if done right, they can be the perfect addition to any summer soirée.
When I say that I love making cheese trays, I’m not talking about simply throwing a block of cheese on a plate and fanning out some crackers. I like to think of it as flower arranging, but with food! I love getting creative with the cheese and cracker choices, mixing in other items and elevating my cheese platters with an art-like presentation.
When I’m putting together a cheese board, I start with two local spots down the street from me on Montana Avenue: Andrew’s Cheese Shop and Marmalade Cafe. The professionals in both these shops have shared their best tips for creating the ultimate cheese tray:
🍴Choose a mixture of soft and hard cheeses so that there are a variety of textures and shapes.
🍴Choose a total of three to five cheeses made from different milk: goat, sheep, and cow milk.
🍴The general rule is two to four ounces of cheese per guest.
🍴Include both savory and sweet accompaniments on your cheese tray including nuts, cured meats, dried fruits and spreads as well as crackers.
🍴Cheese is best served at room temperature so take the cheese out of the fridge an hour before your guests arrive.
🍴Cut most of the hard cheese on a separate board when still cold prior to arranging it on the cheese tray. No more sticking a knife in the cheese and putting it out. It’s much tidier this way and the guests will have an easier time with it and enjoy it more.
🍴Go for a clean cut wedge or strip of the hard cheeses that can be eaten in one or two bites – just not too thin where it’s translucent looking.
🍴Blue or stilton cheese as well as other creamy cheeses like goat or brie, should be kept in a triangle.
🍴Label your cheese. It lets guests know what they’re eating.
Experiment, be creative, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and have fun! No two cheese trays need to look alike, that’s the part I love most. Remember this: no cheese cubes or Triscuits allowed… or at least not on my cheese trays.
FYI: In case you’re interested in learning more about cheese, Andrew’s Cheese Shop at 728 Montana Ave. in Santa Monica offers cheese classes every other month. They also have a Grilled Cheese & Beer Night coming up on May 26th. For more info: call 310-393-3308.