The Cheeseboard01/01/2013 21:50
In many countries it's the usual custom to serve a cheeseboard at the end of a meal. But a cheeseboard can be enjoyed anytime. Your cheese board can be as simple or as extravagant as you wish. There are no set rules, but try to keep to a theme to avoid too many competing flavours.
Choose a tray or platter large enough to keep cheeses of different shapes and sizes from touching. Wooden boards are traditional, but Cheeses may be also be served on slate or marble.
A cheeseboard often has a few accompaniments. Serve your cheeses with rustic breads, plain crackers, curls of soft unsalted butter, and favourite chutneys. Nuts - Walnuts and Pecans are good choices. Fruit and cheese are a classic combination, so include various fresh and dried fruits such as grapes, apricots, plums, pears, figs, dates and apples.
Select between three and five cheeses of different types and textures, sizes and shapes. Include a hard cheese, like a mature Cheddar, a Goats cheese - choose a herb-rolled, soft variety for a contrast of texture. Something creamy like a Brie or Camembert and a Blue, like a traditional wedge of Stilton. There is quite a selection of Cheeses to choose from.
Allow Two ounces of cheese per person, this should be adequate. If cheese is the only thing on the board, you may want to opt for around 3 ounces per guest.
Remove the packaging from the cheeses and allow your cheeses to sit at room temperature for at least two hours before serving. This allows the cheeses flavours and aromas enough time to develop. Arrange them on a platter, and loosely cover to let them breathe.
Put out several knifes for each cheese, using the same knife introduces the natural moulds from one cheese to another, which may impair flavours. Other useful accessories might be spoons, if you are offering runny cheeses, also a sharp paring knife to cut fine slithers of a very hard cheese.
Which wine to serve with the cheeseboard? Well, a good vintage ruby or Port is always appreciated. Here is a useful guide for pairing cheese and wine.
Any leftover cheese can be easily used up by adding it to pasta bakes, used as a pizza topping, or simply just crumbled into salads.