A few weeks ago I received word that I was selected to host my very own Cheese party through the company Cheeselandia! After submitting an application telling them I live, breath and die for cheese, they found both me desperate and obsessed enough to pick me as a cheese host to showcase their newest cheeses. FIVE cheeses I may add…. and since this party is meant to be shared with your closest cheese-loving friends, they sent me a whopping 1.25 pound block of cheese for EACH of those 5 cheeses….so for those of you that aren’t great at math, I received over 6 pounds of cheese to my door, for FREE, in exchange for me posting a few photos of the party on Instagram. This may be the best chef win of my life.
Seeing this massive cheese delivery as an opportunity to not only indulge in my favorite foods (cheeses/charcuteries) I thought it would be the perfect time to talk about how I construct my idea of the perfect cheese board.
But this time I want to focus on the art of making a cheeseboard or a cheese party look as sexy as it can, while also making sure you have all the important elements that make a cheese/charcuterie party complete (meaning you’ve included all the flavors one’s palate desires in such a situation).
Yes, I have hosted MANY a party based around the fact that I would be creating an epic cheeseboard, and in fact, in my circle of friends and my clients, that is something they’ve grown to expect at one of my soirees….so the pressure is on to deliver every time!
One of the first things I consider when planning a cheese party is what kind of board(s) I am going to use. There are round boards, rectangular ones, elongated ones that look that sorority paddles (you know what I’m talking about)….there are also different materials of the board: marble, wood, slate, etc. And each of these characteristics to the boards will in effect, change the “look” of your board.
The decision of board also goes in tandem with how many elements you’ll be having on your board (if you’re planning on serving 5 cheeses, you’ll probably want a pretty large board).
So let’s get started with my board! First I needed to write out all the elements my board would contain so as to better decide on the size/material board I was goingt to use. On a side note, I have found I am not only obsessed with making cheese boards, but have a small shopping addiction when it comes to buying boards, knives, little bowls for jellies, etc. I need a 12 step program.
This board will contain:
- 5 Cheeses sent from Cheeselandia (see notes below about the cheeses!)
- Prosciutto San Daniele
- Peppered Salame and Sopressata
- Fresh Baguette from our local Bakery
- Rosemary Raisin Pecan Crackers
- Whole Wheat Crackers
- Candied Pecans
- Mixed Nuts/Raisins
- Grapes, Apples, and Pears
- Spicy Pepper Jelly
- Fresh Rosemary
It’s important to me to have a variety of flavors (salty, spicy, tangy and sweet) as well as a variety of colors. I use the fresh rosemary primarily for it’s addition of color and texture….I am not sitting there chomping down on a rosemary twig or anything…it’s just to add to the prettiness of the board. There should always be some kind of fruits (either fresh or dried), nuts (salted and/or candied) and some kind of jelly/honey/jam. Having a variety of crackers or bread is also great because each cracker pairs differently with each cheese and can create a whole different taste depending on which vehicle you decide to deliver the cheese to your mouth in. And if you’re not a vegetarian, in my eyes, no cheeseboard is complete without the presence of various cured meats.
I would like to add, that in no way is this blog post sponsored at all. While my party contained cheeses sent to me from Cheeselandia, this blog post is written and published purely for fellow cheese lovers to read up on some new cheeses made in the U-S-A (Wisconsin to be specific). I am always a fan of things made in the US and believe that supporting our small businesses and farms is our civic duty…so I was even more drawn to this Cheeselandia Party from that standpoint.
Through this cheese delivery, I got to try cheeses that I probably wouldn’t have normally purchased on my own, which I LOVE….I am always looking to break out of my normal cheese procurements to spice up a cheeseboard (literally and figuratively). For example, the Cranberry Chipotle Cheddar wouldn’t have caught my eye at a store because I typically don’t like Cranberry, but this cheese wound up being one of my favorites and one that I can see making an appearance on future cheeseboards of mine.
I also love to ask my readers to share their favorite cheeses with me too….it’s how I discovered Cambazola, Bonne Bouche, and a few others! So send my your favorites to firstname.lastname@example.org !!
I like that cheese and cheese parties can lead to so many great food/wine convos, and how everyone, no matter how old they are, has a favorite cheese (my 2 year old for example, loves a good Polly-o String Cheese….what a discernable palate she has!)
For this party, I wanted to focus on the ambiance of making it look as sexy as hell. Purely lit by candlelight, filled with lots of great wines (Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and some Prosecco to name a few), and lots of fun pairing options for everyone. I hope you enjoy learning about these great Wisconsin Cheeses as much as I did!
Red Barn Family Farm’s CUPOLA
Tasting Notes: very similar to a Gouda. Mild, semi-soft cheese which paired great with my Red Pepper Jam. Would be a great option for a dessert cheese platter.
Deer Creek THE BLUE JAY
Tasting Notes: If you can imagine eating a Gin and Tonic, this cheese would be that. VERY juniper-forward in taste…not as Blue Cheese-y in flavor as it is juniper-centric. Probably my least favorite of the 5 cheeses (only because I am not a fan of the juniper flavor in general), however, my husband loved it and thought it was the best Blue Cheese he's ever had. It paired great with honey and Bosc Pear -- I'd try it next with a Lemon Curd, which was noted as a great pairing for this cheese.
Cello COPPER KETTLE PARMESAN
Tasting Notes: the first thing I thought of when I tasted this Parmesan was “THIS is how parmesan should taste!” The perfect parmesan bite but not overly salty. Smooth in taste and texture, just a beautifully done cheese.
Carr Valley Cheese CRANBERRY CHIPOTLE CHEDDAR:
Tasting Notes: I wasn’t thinking I’d like this one as much as I did because of the cranberry but this was beyond delicious! Salted, mild semi-soft cheese with an initially sweet taste from the cranberry, but finishes in your mouth with a mild heat from the chipotle. The kind of cheese whose flavor just keeps blooming. It paired incredibly with my Peppered Salame and Sopressata. This is the kind of cheese I would buy on the regular for my cheese board. I also feel like it would taste amazing along side BBQ chicken.
Pasture Pride’s JUUSTO:
Tasting Notes: BEST CHEESE OF THE NIGHT (and maybe the year). This squeaky curd like texture has great mouth appeal, and the taste is a super mild, buttery flavor that just melts in your mouth. I also love that it’s served hot! We finished ALL of this cheese and plan on buying way more. It’s like the mild, less salty version of a Halloumi.