Cheese boards are the perfect party platter. They’re an immediate draw to a buffet table or hors d’oeuvres station. They allow guests to try new bites; mix and match their favorites; or learn about new combinations that they wouldn’t have thought of. Cheese boards can also be made ahead of time, allowing hosts the opportunity to mingle with guests instead of preparing food in the kitchen.
But, just like planning a menu, putting together a cheese board can be daunting. Stressing about having different flavors of cheeses and if everyone will like them is the first step, while the second is getting it to look perfect on a party platter.
Jessica Affatato, owner of Northport, NY-based Harbor Cheese and Provisions, says that there is no reason to stress out about how to create a cheese board that everyone will be into. In fact, she notes that you can put a cheese board together in as little as five steps with cheeses designed to please every palate and without having to sacrifice on aesthetics.
Her suggestion for creating the perfect board start with, of course, the cheeses. She puts them into two columns: Column A contains cow milk, sheep’s milk and goat milk option; while Column B contains one hard, one soft and one funky option. She notes that mixing and matching from across both columns will ensure that everyone at the table will have a bite to enjoy. (Still not sure what to pick? Check out her full suggestion list here.)
A few of her other hacks for putting together the perfect cheese board include the following:
- Pick a platter with straight edges, as they give a bit more of a frame for the charcuterie “art.”
- Use dried fruit and nuts to fill in gaps. This will make your board look more full than it is.
- Use sweet and savory bites to complement the cheeses. This can include jams, pickles, fresh vegetables and even different types of dips.
- On a budget? Affatato suggests, instead, grabbing one large cheese — like a gouda or brie — and surrounding it with more affordable accompaniments, like olives, grapes and a dipping sauce.