Hard, soft, gooey or blue -- whatever your cheese game, there are a few vital things you should know when it comes to creating a cheese board of epic proportions, and one that will have your guests dreaming of the creamy stuff well into the new year.
With hardly any preparation time, the communal dish is pretty much the perfect dessert replacement; little washing up, tick; tantalising on the tastebuds, tick tick; and finally, further reason to continue drinking (‘tis the season, after all).
Here, Dave Mellor a 'cheese barista' from Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory whose job it is to taste 200 pieces of cheese a day (we kid you not), reveals the rules, tips and tweaks for the perfect cheese board.
“Variety is key when it comes to your cheese board.
"Like wine, everybody likes different types so it’s a good idea to include a creamy cheese like a brie or camembert, a blue as well as a really strong cheddar that stands out on its own.
"Look for a good vintage cheddar that has aged for three to four years. If you’re not into blue, go for a flavoured cheese like feta or chilli.”
The fruit, nuts and other stuff
“People use their eyes as much as their tastebuds so definitely pile some nuts on there, a few different chutneys, a bit of fruit and enjoy mixing and matching the different combinations.
"Go for a plain cracker, so it doesn’t overpower the cheese. If you’ve got a sharp cheese you want something sweet as you’re looking for contradictory flavours.
"Quince paste, originally used as a palette cleanser, marries well with Australian cheddar while cranberries and apricots provide a further balance of sweet with savoury. The fruit and nuts also add a textural element.”
“For brie and camembert, go for a dessert wine as it will cut through the creaminess of the cheese however, if cocktails are more your thing, go for an Appletini.
"For cheddars, a really good balanced red wine, like cabernet sauvignon that’s deep in flavour. For something a bit lighter, go for sangria.
"When it comes to blue cheese, port balances the musty notes from the cheese with its deep flavour.”
“If cheese is too cold, it tends to stunt the flavour and you don’t get the full strength of the cheese -- bring it up to room temperature by taking it out of the fridge an hour before your guests arrive.
"Placing a damp cloth over the top of cheese will also stop it from going hard on the edges.”
“Avoid wrapping cheese in Glad Wrap -- this enables the cheese to sweat, losing its flavour. Instead, wrap the cheese in baking paper followed by Glad Wrap and place in a Tupperware container.
"If you’re serving your cheese on a hot day, choose brie over camembert as it is firmer -- unfortunately, in the heat camembert becomes quite difficult to handle.”Suggest a correction