Working behind the counter at Pork Ewe, the most common question I get asked is
“What should I put on a cheese board?”
The answer……. Be brave, mix it up, try new things and follow these simple steps.
So how much do you need?
Well, this depends on a variety of factors. How many people are you serving? What else will you will be serving? Is the cheese board served as an appetiser or main meal?
As an appetiser we would suggest 50-80g of cheese per person, or as a main meal, top it up to 100-150g per person.
If you are serving after a meal or as a snack before you head out you can serve slightly smaller portions of around 40g per person.
If you are serving a large group of people, less variety and larger portions is always best as this allows each guest to really try each cheese. You don't want your guest hearing about a delicious cheese only to find it is all gone when they go to try some.
Keep in mind the sort of people you will be serving, if they are anything like the team at Pork Ewe we can easily put away 100g of cheese each and then move onto a 5 course meal, we are however professional cheese consumers!
Use a variety of contrasting cheese textures, tastes and milk types.
It can be easy to go for the familiar soft brie or aged cheddar, but the world of cheese is so vast and exciting, why put limitations on yourself? To get you started we have broken down the different cheese types, textures and milks.
· White moulds – Brie, Camembert, Robiola, Triple Cream
· Washed Rind – Epoisses, Quadrello, Munster, Taleggio
· Semi Hard – Comte, Asiago, Manchego, Morbier
· Hard Cheese – Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino, Aged Gouda, Cheddar
· Blue Cheese – Roquefort, Gorgonzola, Stilton
Flavour & Aroma
· Cow’s milk is the most common and popular – beware of people who are lactose intolerant.
· Goat’s milk is a favourite amongst cheese connoisseurs & lactose intolerant people. It has sweet, nutty, citrusy flavours.
· Sheep’s milk is also great for lactose intolerant people and has more pronounced musky aroma and creamy texture.
· Buffalo milk cheese has a milder flavour but is very rich, buttery and creamy.
Create your cheese board with your guests in Mind!
People often ask, “what’s the most popular cheese?” the simple answer is all of them! Human beings are all so individual and they love each cheese differently. Get an idea if your guests are opposed to any cheese, and accommodate this. This way, you won’t waste anything.
If they are adventurous, and like to try new things, give them some surprises.
However, if your guests are anything like my family, then stick with milder tasting cheese. Don’t overwhelm them! If they are new to the world of blue, choose a mild one and pair with some honey to help their taste buds adjust. Go for a soft creamy cheese and either a cheddar or perhaps a mild gruyere.
What to serve with your cheese?
The French laugh at us with our ‘cheese and crackers’ as they only ever serve cheese with a baguette. But since we don’t have the luxury of having the world’s best bread at our fingertips mix it up with a range of sliced baguette, some grissini for the crunch factor, and some lightly seasoned or flavoured lavosh. Remember, you have paid good money for good cheese, so you don’t want to lose the flavour of the cheese behind an overly flavoursome cracker.
To create some flare, serve the cheeses with some jams, like our pear and cinnamon jam which works perfectly with hard and soft cheese alike. Put some truffle honey in a ramekin with a little spoon, its magic with a brie or camembert, or a soft goats cheese and makes the ground move under your feet when drizzled over Roquefort! Panforte is also good friends with all cheeses, it brings the texture of nuts and sweetness as well as creating a much needed relief from the standard quince paste.
If the board is for a more substantial meal, add some cured meats but beware of too much spice! Chilli will affect the flavour of the cheese, and this is one thing you really want to avoid! Use Prosciutto, Jamon, Sopressa, simple meats that have superb flavour without spice!
Get your cheese out of the fridge one hour before service! The same rule applies to your wine! The colder the cheese and wine, the less flavoursome they are.
Spread it out! Don’t cluster it all together, it makes hard work for your guests.
Use a separate knife for each cheese.
Make a little name tag or even a set of tasting notes, this will avoid you being bombarded with questions.
Put particularly smelly or runny cheese on a separate plate.
Most importantly, have fun! Cheese boards should be easy and delicious. Choose good quality cheese and get creative, you can't go wrong.