The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

4:14 PM

What's for Brunch? - Cheese Board

Posted by Truffle Shuffle

Cheddar Cheese Board with Organic Red Pear

A cheese board is a delicious and simple way to enjoy cheese as a snack, as well as a great way to try out new and exciting cheeses.  I had friends over the other day, and decided to make a small cheese tray to delight their senses a bit.  A cheese tray makes a great conversation centerpiece, and is wonderful for holding you over until dinner time.
To make a proper cheese tray, you will want to pick three or four cheeses that are similar in flavor and texture.  For example, three blue cheeses, or four hard Spanish cheeses would do fine.  For my board, I chose three different white cheddar cheeses picked up at my local cheesemonger.  Using more than three or four cheeses is a bit overwhelming, and can lead to too much overlapping in flavors.
Pair your cheese with bread, crackers, or another crisp snack, as well as with your favorite fruits or fruit spreads.  For this board, I picked up some beautiful cranberry hazelnut crackers, and a fresh organic red pear.  The pear was simply delectable; sweet and juicy, ripe to perfection.
If you like, you may serve your cheese with wine, or another favorite beverage.  Just be sure that you don't pair your cheese with anything that will overwhelm or distract from the flavors of the cheese.  Urge your guests to partake of their beverage, fruit and crackers between tastings of each type of cheese (this will help to cleanse the pallet for a full appreciation of each cheese's flavor).  For cheddars, a sweet red wine would be a perfect accompaniment.

For this board, the three cheeses I chose were:
Barber's 1833 English Vintage Cheddar (aged 20 months)
Beehive Big John's Cajun Rub Cheddar (a nice cheddar with rich Cajun rub on the rind)
Beehive Butter Bound Promont Cheddar
A quarter of a pound or less of each is more than enough for four or five people, but feel free to order more as needed.
Choose a bread or cracker that will go well without your cheese, without overpowering it.  Remember, the cheese is the star of the show, and you want to let the flavors of that cheese shine.  Here, I the crackers I chose were a nice accompaniment to the cheese, broken into shards.  Do the same with the fruit, picking something slightly sweet and not overpowering, such as a pear, an apple, or an apricot.
Let your cheese sit out (covered) for about fifteen minutes or so before serving, until it reaches room temperature.  Cold cheese tends to be lacking in flavor.  Just remember, cheese that is left sitting out too long will likely become mushy and oily, so make sure to wrap up and refrigerate any cheese you will not be consuming.
Serve your cheese in manageable slices or triangles.  If possible, serve your cheeses on a board with your crackers and fruit, and provide a variety of cheese untensils, allowing your guest to pick and choose what they would like to eat, and how.
Don't be afraid to try something new, and experiment a bit with your choices.  Just remember, stick with overall flavor profiles that you enjoy.  If you are unsure, just ask your local cheese professional for his or her opinions and recommendations.  Most cheese stores or stores that specialize in cheese will be happy to provide you with a sample.
I hope you have enjoyed this simple idea.  Keep it in mind for your next get together or tea party, and you will be pleased what the tasty simplicity of a cheese board can do for you.

Posted by Adam
(Truffle Shuffle)

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