Outside of your basic chips and dip, cheese is the ultimate go-to for any party, particularly if you want to bring an element of class. With the Oscar season upon us, a nice cheese board is the ultimate party food to accompany your prosecco and champagne.
We have some fabulous tips for building a red carpet worthy cheese board with from Cheeses of Europe and Cheese specialist Charles Duque.
This helpful cheat sheet can used by all – from the novice cheese lover, to the expert cheese connoisseur as the ultimate party planning bible to your Oscars viewing party.
1. Choose your cheese:
Duque suggests three to five cheeses – for a well-rounded board, select a soft-ripened cheese, a firm cheese, a washed rind cheese, and a blue cheese. Aim for a mix of milks, colors and textures. Plan for about four ounces of cheese per person, the larger the party, the larger the variety. For small parties, Duque recommends sticking with larger portions of fewer varieties to give everyone an opportunity to taste.
a. Soft-ripened: Buttery, smooth and mild. Try a triple-crème like Brillat-Savarin, which is always a crowd pleaser or Delice de Bourgogne, a rich, delicate cheese with the tanginess of sour cream.
b. Firm: Hard with nutty flavor (can be crumbly). Try Mimolette, a nutty-fruity cheese with hints of butterscotch and a beautiful, bright color or Comté, a sweet, nutty-fruity cheese that can include hints of apricot, chocolate, butter, cream, hazelnuts and toast.
c. Washed rind: Soft to semi-soft with a pungent aroma. Try Époisses, a smooth, silky cheese with a unique, slightly salty taste or Livarot, a full, spicy cheese with a pungent, earthy aroma.
d. Blue: Creamy with a sharp, salty bite. Try Bleu D’Auvergne, a pungent scented cheese with a salty, spicy taste (for the stinky cheese lovers) or Fourme D’Ambert for a mild, delicate blue cheese option (for the stinky cheese-averse).
2. Choose your pairings:
When estimating the amount of wine to purchase, keep in mind that a 750ml bottle will pour six 4-ounce glasses. The Oscars are typically around three hours long. In this instance, Duque would recommend purchasing one bottle of wine for every two guests plus non-alcoholic offerings such as sparkling and still waters. Each cheese comes alive on the palate with different wine pairings, but when in doubt, a Champagne or Riesling will pair well with just about any cheese. For any friends that are of the go-red-or-go-home variety, a fruity, light-bodied red wine like a Pinot Noir will do the trick. If you want to really roll out the red carpet, these are the pairings we’d recommend:
a. Soft-ripened: Champagne
b. Firm: Dry white (ex: Pinot Grigio) or light red wine (ex: Pinot Noir)
c. Washed rind: Sweet, medium-bodied white wine (ex: Riesling or Moscato)
d. Blue: Fruity red (ex: Pinot Noir) or sweet dessert wine (ex: Gewürztraminer)
3. Choose your garnishes:
Garnishes decorate and complement the cheese. You can use seasonal fruits or nuts, jams, chutneys, or honeys. Of course, nut or nut or fruit breads or wafer-thin crackers are great vessels to carry the cheese to your mouth. Flowers are nice, too!
4. Choose your board:
The board itself is part of the show! Whether wood, slate, china or decorative tray, it can be a conversation piece just like the cheese. If you choose a simple board, you can give it an extra pop of color with a patterned tablecloth.
5. Set up your cheese:
Always start with the mildest cheese and “12 o’clock” and place the cheeses clockwise in order of pungency. End with the strongest, which is usually a blue cheese.
To learn more about French Cheese or where to purchase locally simply visit: cheesesofeurope.com