A cheese board laden with the very best selection of cheeses plus preserves and edible treats to complement them is one of life’s true joys.
When you think of your cheese board as more than just a taste journey but as a feast for the eyes too, your after dinner or served-with-drinks offering is bound to become something truly extraordinary, something to savour and to linger over while enjoying good wine and conversation. Luckily, we are so spoilt here in South Africa with the availability of superb cheeses, handcrafted with care and created to tempt and inspire us fromage-loving foodies. Just like with the building of a charcuterie board, the crafting of a cheese board starts with some key essentials before you build on your edible artwork. Here’s how…
SET THE TONE
Before you set out to select your cheeses and accompaniments, let’s get the basics right. How many guests will you be serving, and do you prefer a minimalist or maximalist approach? For larger parties and if you are of the more-is-more school, you may choose to fill every available inch of space on your board with as many cheeses and accoutrements as possible. If you’re entertaining just a few people, then a handful of carefully picked creations will do just perfectly. Consider too your base – a favourite wooden board, a slab of marble or maybe a large slate tile? Each of these would be ideal for presenting your cheesy feast.
TAKE YOUR PICK
The building blocks of any board are of course your cheeses, and your aim should be to have a balanced selection that spans a variety of flavour profiles to meet your guests’ preferences. Three to five cheese types are ideal – look to select a variety that covers different milk types, textures, and flavour profiles including soft and creamy, semi-hard and aged, fresh cheese and a blue or more pungent cheese for intensity.
TIME TO PAIR UP
Pairing pickles, preserves and relishes with cheeses is a longstanding tradition of cheese appreciation. Many cultures have their preferred choices and of course they add visual appeal to any board. The French love their lightly brined cornichons and satisfying savoury onion relishes, while we have the Spanish to thank for membrillo (quince paste). These accompaniments offer a contrast of sweet, tangy or even spicey taste profiles which can enhance and complement the flavours on your board – plus they prevent flavour fatigue which means more chance to enjoy your cheese! Don’t forget fresh or dried fruit, add nuts and honey if you like, plus a selection of crackers too.
WHAT TO DRINK?
Water is a must on the table of course and wine is a much-loved accompaniment to cheese appreciation. Champagne is a perennial favourite for enjoying cheeses, especially soft rich cheeses. Fuller bodied reds like Cabernet Sauvignon pair well with well-aged cheeses that have a saltier profile, while sherry and port are popular with blue and full-bodied cheese.
A well-chosen and constructed cheese board can be as enjoyable as the main meal itself and certainly as memorable. Take time to choose your cheeses and their partners on the board and savour the tastes and conversations that arise around them.
Winning flavour pairings
Create the perfect platter with these Forage and Feast flavour combos.
SEMI SOFT & SWEETMILK CHEESE
Pair with fresh fruit and fruit preserves like figs and apricot or drizzle honey over the top to balance the mild buttery flavours.
We love: Forage and Feast Dutch Style Gouda – pair it with Forage and Feast Green Fig Preserve. For a punch of flavour serve Forage and Feast Gouda with Jalapenos.
HARD, AGED CHEESE
The sharp and nutty flavours of aged cheeses are enhanced by savoury or tangy relishes, chutneys and the likes of pickled onions.
We love: Forage and Feast Mature Gouda – pair it with Forage and Feast Caramelised Onion Cheese Topper.
Blue cheeses are intense and pungent and are excellent with fruity preserves. Pair with Forage and Feast Rhubarb Preserve & Ginger.
Goat’s cheeses fall into this category and are lovely with citrus, olives and even tomato-based relishes.
We love: Forage and Feast Goats Milk Cheese and Forage and Feast Goats Milk Cheese with Italian Herbs. Pair with Forage and Feast Tomato & Chilli Cheese Topper.