I’m a sucker for a perfect cheese board. Of course we don’t get it out every week. But everyone loves sitting around at the end of a meal, nibbling on the cheese and accompaniments as you ‘fill up the corners’, finish up the wine and relax in the glow of a few hours spent in lovely company.
And of course at Christmas, nothing beats it – and not just for when you’re entertaining. In the odd quietness between Christmas and New Year, when family has gone home and the house is sleeping peacefully in the twinkle of Christmas lights and candles, we don’t usually bother to cook. A surfeit of food over the last few days means no one wants much – but a simple cheese board keeps everyone happy.
(by thew way, if you want some help with the wine too, then take a look at these wine hacks from the professionals)
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There are a few simple rules to creating a perfect cheese board – don’t be intimidated by it, keep it simple and it’s really hard to get it wrong.
How many cheeses should be on the Cheese Board?
The first few years I created my own (having grown up in a house where cheese was a hunk of mild cheddar in the fridge), I went a bit mad, and got eight different types and flavours – but discovered cheese can be pricey, and got small bits of each.
You want between three and five – and you need decent-sized chunks so that no one feels they . can’t have more than a sliver.
What basic cheeses to have on the cheese board?
If it’s just for you – choose your favourites. There are no rules here. If you hate blue cheese, don’t buy it. If you like mild cheddar, go for it. But if you have guests, then start with your basic trio; one hard cheese, one soft, one blue cheese.
- Hard cheese: Cheddar always wins! Go for a decent mature one – we buy local from a farmers market.
- Soft cheese: You’ll never go wrong with a nice oozy Brie
- Blue cheese: A nice Cropwell Bishop Stilton is the obvious seasonal choice, but actually we tend to just have some Saint Agur.
For us, there’s always a soft goats cheese log, plus one with fruit; usually a Wensleydale with cranberry. And for a family-only board I’ll often replace the blue with a Port Salut just because the kids love it and it reminds us of family holidays.
What accompaniments for a cheese board?
Mix it up! the joy of picking at a cheese board is the variation in textures and flavours. So go for it;
- Something salty – roasted nuts (big finger-food ones like almonds, pecans, walnuts), prosciutto, olives in a bowl (not everyone loves them, so keep them separate!)
- Something sweet – dried apricots, fresh fruits like grapes or figs, some clear runny honey to drizzle
- biscuits – I find the supermarkets own brands are nicer than the obligatory Jacobs mix. Have a selection on hand, everyone has a different favourite
- condiments – who doesn’t love a small jar of special chutney or relish?
What to use as a cheese board
If you don’t have an actual board – don’t worry! I’ve frequently used my wooden chopping board, or an old baking sheet. Anything flat which you can slice on will work. But if you are in the market for a cheese board to fancy up your serving this year, here’s some of our current faves..
Best Cheese Board this year
It folds up into one Trivial Pursuit cheese segment – and then you just slide it out into that masterful stepped cheese board with knives.
Probably not big enough for the biscuits and condiments too, but has the bonus of the knives built in, and adds a visually-appealing height to the table.
James Martin 4Pc Cheese Board Set currently reduced to £28 at Denby (though I have just seen a similar VonShef version on Amazon for £17!)
Keeping it simply – and simply beautiful. You don’t need fancy, and this charming rustic olive wood board will set off any table. And if it’s a gift, you can have it engraved, too.
Rustic Olive Wood Cheese board, £37 on Etsy (shipping free, but from Canada, so order early!)
This one’s a BARGAIN from Lakeland – a bamboo board, with an acrylic dome so that you can leave your cheese out to get to room temperature, but not have it dry out.
Best of all? It’s under £8!
Lakeland Large Round Dome-Lidded Cheese board
Simple – and yet so effective! A slice of Acacia trunk, perfect for dressing up with your best cheese board ingredients of choice. Also – doubles up all year round as a trivet and chopping board in the kitchen.
T&G Acacia Round board £20 from Dunelm
Another beautiful dome – only this time it’s real glass, and a beautifully pleasing ergonomic shape.
Still not a budget-blower though – under £30 for this gorgeous thing that’ll still be keeping your cheese perfect when your grandchildren come over.
John Lewis & Partners Cheese Dome & Wood Base – £28.
This one’s an Amazon bestseller, and you can see why. A pretty round design, personalised engraving, comes complete with four servers in the hidden section… and it’s under £13!
Personalised Large Cheese Board with Serving Set Gift on Amazon, £13
If there’s more than a couple of you round the table, then a Lazy Susan comes into it’s own – and this one’s a gem. A simple but large wooden board, made with premium quality acacia wood, it’s as strong as it is stylish.
Plus the Alex Liddy Acacia Lazy Susan is currently reduced to £21 on HouseUK
Love this slate platter – at 2′ long it’ll stretch right down the table, meaning easy access for everyone. And those copper-finish handles look gorgeous!
KitchenCraft Artesà Slate Serving Platter with Copper Finish Handles £13!
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