Have you seen those Instagram accounts filled with photos of amazing cheeseboards? Lillith Spencer (@cheesemongrrl) comes to mind. Her incredible cheese and charcuterie platters are a rainbow of colors and textures. Each meat and cheese has its perfect place and a uniquely delicious culinary companion somewhere else on the board. In this great interview with RealPlants, Lillith describes her process:
“I just start on one end and either work across the whole thing or sometimes I build like little kingdoms on different areas and then fill in the gaps in between. I begin by setting everything up, you know, grabbing my olives, et cetera. I always drain the olives, dry them off, and toss them in olive oil, because they stay really shiny that way. I slice a lot of the vegetables on the meat slicer, super-thin. There’s a lot of preparation, but once I’ve prepped all of the ingredients, it only takes me about half an hour to make a platter. I make sure that there are a variety of spreads, like fruity ones, honeys, and mustards. I like to make sure that there are not just sweet but also savory accompaniments—not just a bunch of jams. I like to add weird stuff too. It’s totally fun and fine to put kimchi on a cheese plate, for example, or even just plenty of fresh vegetables to add crunch that’s not coming from a cracker. It lightens and brightens the whole thing up.”
But let’s take a step backward for us novices, and start at the very beginning: how do we know what a great cheeseboard or charcuterie platter is really made of? Here are the simple steps that explain how to create the perfect cheeseboard.
1. Choose your surface. Slate is a great choice, as it provides a dark surface for the food to stand out, and plus if you want to label anything, a piece of food-safe chalk does the trick. Don’t have a slate? A wooden cutting board, a serving platter of any material or even a cookie sheet will work like a charm.
2. Choose your cheeses. Head to the cheese section at your supermarket and pick out your cheeses. Choose a mixture of textures, colors and strengths to mix it up. This doesn’t have to break the bank – many cheese sections have a small-block bin where you can get little wedges and wheels for just a few dollars apiece. If you prefer to pre-slice your cheese, explore some fun ways to arrange the slices. You can also just leave the wedges and blocks as-is, and stick in a few cheese tools for your guests to divvy out for themselves.
3. Add meat (optional). If you’re guests are not vegetarians, add some charcuterie like prosciutto, speck or dry Italian salami. This is totally optional – there are plenty of delicious things to eat without the meats!
4. Add sweet and salty. A big part of the fun of a cheeseboard is nibbling on all the different flavors and textures, so mix it up! Try a little pile of roasted almonds with sea salt here, a handful of dried apricots, red grapes or blackberries there. Obtain a few miniature condiment dishes, and fill them with little delights such as fig jam, apple butter, stone ground mustard, olives or cornichons.
5. Add some starch and you’re done! Get a versatile mix of crackers, baguette slices or toast points going. Try different textures, grains and seeds! One of the tastiest crackers is easily made by simply brushing baguette slices with olive oil and baking them on a cookie sheet: 350º F for about 6 minutes. They get this glorious toasty flavor that’s perfect for cheese.
Still need some help picking out the best cheeseboard ingredients, or want to send one as a gift? That’s where GiftTree comes in! We’ve done all the curating ahead of time, putting together masterful menus of cheese, charcuterie, olives, pickles, mustards and more. Explore the collection by clicking here! P.S. – Don’t forget the wine!
What would your favorite cheeseboard have on it?