Eating But Not Cooking – Cheeseboard
Let’s talk about cheeseboards! They are very trendy right now, and I’m glad because they have been my preferred method of entertaining for over a decade. How easy to put out a beautiful, bountiful, room temperature spread of pretty much anything you might want to eat and simply let your guests graze. A cheeseboard is the ultimate crowd pleaser! FOCAL POINTS My favorite way to begin is to add focal points. For example, if I have a wheel of Brie, I want it to be a visible, tempting anchor, so I will place it wherever my eye is drawn to on the empty board. Once I have the cheeses placed, I’ll dot the rest of the board with small bowls that contain foods such as nuts, jam, and olives. From here, I arrange items in circles around the bowls and then add rounded clusters of other yummy things to fill in the gaps. THE RULE OF 3 When assembling your board, remember that the eye is drawn to plates that feature items in odd numbers. People love the look of things that come in threes, whether it’s on a plate, in art, or in nature. Always stick with an odd number of components. CHEESE Start with cheese. You’ll want at least three different types: hard/semi-hard, soft, and funky. A soft cheese would be something like Brie or Camembert. A harder cheese you’d want to snack on would be something like Manchego, aged Cheddar, a farmstead cheese like Bellavitano, or a nice Gouda. A “funky” cheese would love disco and be something like blue cheese or goat cheese. MEAT If you want to add meat, I always go for high-quality prosciutto and something like salami. In my opinion, meat and cheese are a dream team with bread and wine. I’d be satisfied if you stopped right there. FRUIT Add fresh fruit. Grapes are an inexpensive and beautiful way to fill up a charcuterie board. To spare guests the hassle of fumbling with whole bunches, use scissors to snip the stems and make tiny portions. Otherwise, the grapes are not likely to get eaten. CARBS Arrange some crackers. If you want to get all Cheeseboard 202, throw on some fresh baked bread… a little butter… maybe some hummus and pita chips. NUTS Nuts are both high in protein and filling. To make guests feel special, get some high-end nuts like pistachios or cashews.
SALTY GOODNESS For some briny, salty goodness, add olives, pickles, and mustard. When selecting olives, consider getting ones that are pitted for two reasons: 1. No one will break a tooth. 2. You don’t have to worry about guests not knowing where to put the pits. JAM For some sweetness, put out fancy jam in small bowls with spoons. WASTE BOWLS Put out small bowls for olive pits, toothpicks, and pistachio shells. Start each one off so that people know why the bowls are there. Otherwise, at least one guest will mistake an empty bowl for a free hat. HAVE FUN Most importantly, be creative and grab anything that you think someone would enjoy. Arrange everything on a table or other large surface, pop open some wine, and let people pick what they want. Don’t get too fussy — just make sure all the components are visible and look yummy. BALANCE & UMAMI For balance, remember that the best meals have components that are sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and crunchy. Umami, a further category of taste, is also something to consider — it occurs naturally in foods like soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, red wine, tomatoes, black olives, and aged cheeses. MESS IT UP Once it’s perfect, mess it up just a little so that it will look like someone already started picking at it. Most people are too polite to be the first one to start eating at a party. BACKUPS Consider making more than one tray and having backups ready to serve so that you can relax. Better yet, go ahead and lay out all the boards right before the party starts, placing them in different areas throughout your home so that guests will frequently move, which will keep the energy up. P.S. These farmers markets are still open.