How to Build the Ultimate Cheese Board
By Meg Barkley
Cheese boards are the perfect way to spice up any occasion, whether a girl’s night in, a celebratory party, a picnic in the park or a book club get-together. They give you the freedom to be creative with a myriad of flavors, textures, and pairings.
So how do you make a cheese board worthy of stealing the show? Clif Family’s Chef John McConnell shares his tips for the ultimate scene stealer.
Pick a Theme
Themed cheese boards are a fun way to bring to life the flavors of a certain region, like Napa Valley wine country. Or go with a theme like seasonal flavors, sweet or savory, or even meal occasion. Brunch boards are some of our favorites!
Select Your Canvas
Select a vessel or surface on which to build the spread. Have fun with this! Butcher blocks and platters in all sorts of shapes and sizes work great. You might even think about exploring your local vintage shop for something unique to add to your collection. And don’t forget to pick up some unique or one-of-a-kind utensils for your board as well.
Add the Stars of the Show
For the cheese selection, a brie-style cow’s milk cheese like Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam and an aged cheddar or a gouda like Vella Dry Jack are versatile cheeses that work well with all kinds of flavors and pairings. And it’s always a good idea is to include a dairy-free option. We like California Bay Area producer Miyoko’s, who make delicious cashew-based cheese alternatives. Your local market or grocer should have plenty of options for you to choose from.
And for Charcuterie, we suggest selecting an aged prosciutto like La Quercia Prosciutto Americano or an Italian Prosciutto that you can often find at a local delicatessen. When ordering, be sure to ask for a thin cut!
Sprinkle on Some Flair
Sprinkle Clif Family Organic Savory Nut Mixes on the board in a visually pleasing arrangement. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, turn the nuts into a spread by pulsing/pureeing in a blender with a touch of extra virgin olive oil. This can be a nice alternative to the meat selection on your board for your vegetarian or vegan guests.
Fill in the remaining open spots with some crostini and crackers to accompany your spread. We also like to add some gluten free options like slices of pear, apple or even lettuce leaves.
Fresh Strawberries add a great pop of color alongside our Red Wine Jelly with Cracked Pepper.
Finish off your board with a few clusters of our Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels for a touch of something sweet.
Don’t forget the finishing touches. Use fresh flowers and herbs to add some texture and color.
Serving the right wines with your cheese board will help highlight the flavors that you have assembled. Higher acid wines pair well with saltier cheese selections, light-bodied aromatic wines make a good pairing with soft-ripened cheese, full-bodied whites work with richly flavored cheese and medium-bodied red wines are a good match for semi-soft cheese. Salty charcuterie is a good match with a high-acidity sparkling wine.
If you’re looking for further suggestions or tips on wine country entertaining, search our Clif Family blog for recipes from Executive Chef John McConnell. Or check out our accompanying video on how to build the best cheese board.
And to make things easy, we’ve created a set of products that complement any cheese selection. Our Just Add Cheese gift set includes Clif Family artisan food products and is available in the Gift Set section of our on-line shop.