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10 Steps To Curating A Show Stopper Meat And Cheese Board

cheese board styling

Charcuterie and cheese is my go to pit stop at every party.  Meat and cheese boards are my ultimate favorite hosting snacks!  I love to make them, I love to eat them!  They always bring a stunning presentation to a party and the more appealing the presentation the more inviting the snacking will be.  The idea is to make everything alluring.  Guests with a happy stomach are happy guests.  A well done meat and cheese board can also be a great decorative addition to the food table.  Below I’m sharing some tips as to what to include to make a stunning and balanced meat and cheese board or if you prefer just cheese board.  Let the feasting begin!

Cheese board styling for a party

Cheese board styling for a party

10 Tips To Styling A Stunning Meat Cheese Board

1.) First rule of thumb is to have a variety of different textures.  The cheese should pair well with the crackers, bread and wines.  Keeping this mind, I always go for a hard cheese, varying levels of soft cheese for example a Brie or Camembert (medium soft cheese), goat cheese (spreadable soft cheese).  The soft creamy cheese that I used in this round is a French cheese known as Pave d’Affinois under the family of Brie cheese (available at Trader Joe’s during the December season).  In my mix of cheeses I chose this particular one because I like to include a variety of strengths in cheese to tingle the palette and appeal to everyone.  This one is one of my favorite softer cheeses.  In my featured cheese board I chose a Syrah soaked parmesan for my strong hard cheese.  Cheese with herbs and packed flavor pack a punch and contrast the mellowness of crackers and bread.  Take away for this tip is: variety of textures and flavors ranging from mild to strong(er).  The white cheese I used is a goat milk Gouda.  This same rule is applied to meats if you so wish to include them.  Present a variety of different styles and flavors such as a soft pate/liver mousse versus hard salami or prosciutto.

2.) When it comes to the carbohydrates I usually offer a variety of crackers to stimulate palettes: wheat, flaxseed, plain rice cracker, sometimes even baguette or crispy pita chips.  These offer a base to where the offerings are spread to.

3.)  Besides meat and cheese, I like to add something refreshing to contrast the decadence, therefore, I recommend some dried fruits (or berries), nuts and/or fresh fruits like grapes.  When they’re in season I love to add fresh figs.  Other ideas are: tangerines, apples, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc.  Remember we want the different textures to carry through in all aspects of our board from each element such as the cheese to all the other components.  Dried fruit, nuts and fresh fruit contrast the heaviness of the meats and cheeses.

4.)  For the plating foundation I always choose a neutral background.  Large flat plates that are in neutral or natural colors.  Often I gravitate towards natural looking pieces like a large bamboo cutting board, but in this case I chose a black and white chalkboard tray in the shape of Chicago.  I love this board for two purposes, it was a thoughtful gift from a friend and I love using it to show her how much I appreciate it (that alone adds a warm atmosphere to the hosting environment because the spirit of it is already so warm).  Secondly, because it is a lovely and personal homage to my home city and the details that show the neighborhoods are too cute.  The foundation of the plating sets a tone for the delicious edible adornments.

5.)  An unexpected item or two add to the flavor profile of the board.  Recently I’ve been adding jams on the side to add zest and another piercing of flavor to the palette.  Depending on the cheeses I pair a jam that is flattering, for example an orange marmalade or fig jam on top of the soft cheese like Brie or one the side.  Typically I will put my jam on the side so as to allow each guest to put together what they are most drawn to.  Other jams I have used include: black currant or cherry (for its tartness) or rhubarb.  The world is your oyster; however, do not feel limited to these selections but take them as ideas to springboard your own meat and cheese board experience.  An unexpected item could also be a chocolate.  I would suggest a dark chocolate to balance with the savory flavors of the board.

6.)  Include a decadent item (optional) but it’s a shining star if you can include one.  In this board I had black roe caviar from a Sturgeon.  Element such as olives, marinated or dill goods such as pickles can also provide the salty concentrated flavor and add uniqueness to the board flavor.  In this board I also included a rich smoked white fish dip.  I can not stop talking about how delicious this pate/dip is!  I’ve linked this fish pate here from Whole Foods.

7.)  To play with the presentation I make the food look abundant.  I pile lots of items all over the board to reassemble a flat cornucopia.  This is a big part of the feeling behind my boards.  I think we need to have feeling behind our food, so I try to have a feeling conveyed.

8.)  The placement of all the elements matters.  The cheeses I put down first, spread them apart and then I begin to add other elements such as the fruits, nuts, meats, jams and utensils.  To add layers to the placement and for practical purposes sometimes I contain certain elements.  For example, sometimes I loosely put the nuts all over the board in a messy fashion, parts here others there.  This contrasts the perfectness of the placed cheese and gives off a relaxed vibe.  Other times I contain these elements in a smaller bowl or dish and place it on top of next to the board.  This depends on the other food being served and the mood and feeling of the board.  Another example of the placement choice is, you can place the jam on top of a cheese, on the board by items like a spread for guests to dip into or my go to option I put the messier jam into a small dish.  This dish is usually a little soy sauce tray and it fits the display and mood of my board perfectly.  However, you choose to create your boards should reflect the spirit you’re trying to convey and be a combination of layered placement for interest.

9.)  Provide utensils for your guests to use.  I have a little spreading spoon from the caviar and a cheese knife or two available.  If you don’t have anything like this you can also use butter knives, just make sure you’re guests have something to help them use the spreads.

10.)  Bring your spirit into your board.  You’re board should be a reflection of you and should be something you want to eat yourself and share.  Follow your stomach’s cravings and the guidelines above for your own show stopping stunner.

Cheese board styling for a party

party cheese board

Did my guide help you or inspire you to make a cheese board?  I’d love to know what worked (or didn’t).  To share please leave a comment 🙂

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