We decided to make our own, since I didn’t want a cut cheese tray pre made from the store. It would do in a pinch, but I don’t think that crafting our own was much more difficult, yet it was so much more pleasing to the eye, and palette.
First off, I’m a huge cheese fan, and when you get into the realm of soft cheeses like Brie and spreadable cheeses, like Goat… I’m all in.
In crafting our own tray, I could choose cheeses that I knew I liked. Okay, I’ll even go as far to say I love a few of these. As in, I’d totally make out with a delicious tray of cheeses.
I also wanted to create a board that would have something to offer for everyone, starting with a more “safe” variety and then building to a little more intense flavors.
We stopped by our local Fresh Market to shop a large range of cheeses and chat with their resident “guru” and decided to find something from each of the four basic categories that most cheeses belong to: aged, soft, firm or blue as well as combining cheeses made from different types of milk, cuts and sizes to keep it visually pleasing.
A few examples:
- Aged: Aged Cheddar, Comte, Goat Gouda
- Soft: Brie, Camembert, Taleggio, Havarti
- Firm: Manchego, Mimolette, Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Blue: Gorgonzola, Roquefort, Stilton, Cambozola
As for the accompaniments, the sweetness of fruit always creates a pleasing counterpoint to the saltiness of the cheeses and a range of crusty baguettes, bread sticks, crackers and toasted french bread rounds are a perfect way to serve the cheese.
A few examples of delicious parings:
- Fruit: Grapes, Green Apples (GREAT with cheddar), Pear, Strawberries, Figs
- Dried Fruits and Nuts: Apricots, Figs, Mixed Nuts (Almods are a great choice),
- Spreads: Jams like Fig (a favorite), Blueberry, Peach and Apricot, Mustards, Honey, Quince Paste
- Meats: Cured Meats, like prosciutto and Capicollo
To plate, just take the time to arrange cheeses and accompaniments in a pleasing way and serve on your favorite wood platter or cutting board, marble tray or even a plastic cutting board. Don’t forget to put out enough knives for all the cheeses so that they don’t have to mix.
Fine cheeses are best served at room temperature, so keep them wrapped but remove from the refrigerator about an hour or two before plating.
Our cheese board consisted of: Brie + Blue (a delicious mix), a five-variety Cheddar block, Fresh Goat (smooth and creamy), Manchego (hard and salty), Wensleydale with Berries (SO good). For the accompaniments we used, green grapes, strawberries, sliced green apples, dried apricots, fig spread, mixed nuts, crackers and french baguette rounds as well as melon wrapped in prosciutto.
A great cheese tray is always a hit at a party and we had so much fun putting this one together. It was quite literally my dinner… and so, so good. Just have fun experimenting with different flavors and combinations, it’s fun! And I hope you have as much fun with it as I do.