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A party isn't a party without a cheese plate. Here's how to do it up right.
Having seen and made a couple of hundred cheeseboards in my day, I can say the most important and overlooked hallmark of a perfect board is to keep it simple. I usually like to stick to three to six good-quality cheeses, depending on what else is being served. There ought to be a mix of milk types (cow, sheep and goat), as well as textures. A general rule of thumb for a three-cheese offering is a soft, a hard and a blue.
1. For an impressive, luxurious soft cheese, try Château de Bourgogne or Brillat-Savarin.
2. Avonlea shines as a true cloth-bound, hearty cheddar from P.E.I.
3. Dragon’s Breath is a devilish blue with a seductive consistency.
When building your board, do your cheeses a favour and leave them in whole pieces (save the cubes for the supermarkets). The more a cheese is cut up, the more surface area is exposed and it will dry out much more quickly, diminishing both the taste and the visual appeal.
Garnish the board with a few choice crackers, such as those from 34 Degrees, or multigrain flatbreads—and instead of fresh fruit, I prefer toasted nuts and some dried fruit (cherries, dates and apples work well) to round out both the flavour profile and aesthetics of your board. Toasted almonds are lovely counterpoints to sheep-milk cheeses and toasted walnuts are a classic accompaniment to blues. For condiments, one is plenty (although we often have trouble choosing between the three we make in-house: Apple Rosemary, Vanilla Pear and Tomato Chili).
For New Year’s celebrations, I definitely like to sip my Champagne alongside some choice cheeses. (Luckily, Champagne goes with just about everything.)
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