Master a Cheese Board Like a True Connoisseur
Entertaining soon? You won’t want to be without an expertly curated cheese board. In France, arranging cheese boards is practically a national sport. There’s a technique involved – it’s about honing your skills, getting creative, and comparing results. If you’re just getting started, our first suggestion is to do some research on a great cheese shop in your neighborhood. A knowledgeable cheesemonger will teach you more than you ever needed to know about the ins and outs of cheese connoisseurship.
Once you’ve found a great cheese retailer, the next part is choosing your varieties. A classic cheese board has four to six cheeses and is a representation of all the major milk types (cow, goat, sheep) and cheese styles. Buy enough cheese to supply at least 4oz of cheese per person you’re feeding, and choose a varied selection from the following types for the best results.
6 Types of Cheese
- Fresh and Young: This cheese is fresh or lightly aged. Examples: Feta, Mozzarella, Ricotta, Mascarpone.
- Bloomy Rinded: A mushroomy and earthy cheese that’s soft and creamy with a fluffy white rind. Examples: Double-crème French Brie, Fromager d’Affinois, Humboldt Fog.
- Washed Rind: A soft to semi-soft texture cheese. Examples: Taleggio, Limburger, Gruyère.
- Semi-Firm: Creamy, smooth texture and rich flavor. Examples: Asiago, Cheddar, Provolone.
- Firm and Aged: Hard texture, can be crumbly and has a lingering nutty umami flavor. Examples: Aged Gouda, Manchego, Parmigiano Reggiano.
- Blue: Creamy texture with a pungent aroma and a sharp, salty bite. Examples: French Roquefort, English Stilton, Italian Gorgonzola.
Using these six types as your guidelines, don’t be afraid to get creative! Ask what cheeses are best right now (some might be new to the scene or perfectly ripe), ask what cheeses are unique, and always ask to taste before buying.
Store Your Cheese Properly
Between cheese shopping and the arrival of your guests, it’s important to store the cheese properly. Once you’re home, unwrap any cheese wedges that are wrapped in plastic, re-wrap them in your Formaticum parchment paper and then cover the paper in a sheet of plastic wrap. This must-have Formaticum parchment paper prevents the cheese from picking up the plastic aroma and gives the cheese a bit of breathing room.
Serve Room Temperature
On the day-of, cheeses should be taken out of the refrigerator two hours before serving because cheese tastes best at room temperature. While they’re out of the fridge, keep them wrapped so they don’t dry out.
Display from Mildest to Strongest
The final part of the cheese board process is the display. Use one knife per cheese so that flavors aren’t mixed and diluted. Serve the cheeses whole to maintain flavor. Arrange the cheeses on a plate from mildest to strongest. Cut the cheese so everyone gets a bit of the rind where the flavor is strongest.
It’s the Little Details that Count
Decorate and enhance your cheese board with other complementary foods including nuts, dried fruit, grapes, honey, jams, simple crackers, olives or a plain baguette. Fresh and dried fruits are a must-have to complement the complex tastes of wine and cheese, and even cleanse your palate after each bite. Tangy fruit goes with a young cheese, sweet fruit is best with salty cheese, and bitter nuts go with a rich cheese. Pairing together these elements will elevate the flavor of the cheese.
Need the perfect wine to go with your cheese arrangement? Check out our guide to pairing wine and cheese here.
Get Formaticum in Your Next Box
Discover Formaticum Parchment Paper and other French lifestyle essentials for men in OuiPlease Homme Vol.1.3 The Weekender Box here.