How to Build a Picnic Cheese Board
This post was written & photographed by Gretchen Powers – filmmaker, photographer, and writer with a passion for storytelling and capturing the essence of a person, place or thing.
But how, might you ask do you put together such a beautiful board of culinary delight?
The first step is selecting your board. Wooden boards are often selected for both aesthetic reasons and also sturdiness. A common challenge for new cheese board crafters, is selecting the right size board depending on how many people you are feeding. A rough guide is measuring out one open hand per person. One high five for everyone! You want to be able to fill the board and have all of your ingredients be cozy without overflowing and don’t forget you can always refill as people munch.
After selecting a board for the job, building the dish starts of course with the main attraction: the cheese. One of the best things about Cabot’s pre-sliced packages of cheddars and pepper jack is that they are perfect for a spontaneous cheese course. Add a bit of brie, goat cheese, blue cheese or gouda from other fabulous Vermont creameries and you’ll have a bite for every cheese loving palate. While I like to slice and stack or artfully arrange harder or aged cheeses, I leave my softer cheeses like brie, goat and bleu cheese with a knife or spreader for folks to add as they wish.
Next up, add some meats, with whatever flair you feel inclined, roll some salami, ruffle some prosciutto and fold some pepperoni.
Add the breads, crackers or slices of apple that can hold all of the tasty bits you add to each bite. It’s nice to have a variety and a crunchy seeded baguette always steals the show.
Fill in the gaps with plenty of little goodies like roasted nuts, pieces of dark chocolate, olives, dried fruit, pickles, berries or grapes.
Lastly add some jams, chutneys, honeys to pair well with the cheeses you’ve chosen. Fig butter and brie are good friends, as are a hot pepper jelly with a sharp cheddar. Honey goes well with anything and you can’t go wrong with a coarse ground mustard.
Other fun ideas that didn’t make it into this board but are great to try: adding little bowls of hummus, baba ganoush, with fresh vegetables or swaths of butter with salt around the plate or anything else you have around the house.
If you’re packing this cheese board to go, a few extra things you want to remember are: hand sanitizer, toothpicks, knives and spreaders and some wee little spoons and a few napkins.
Eating from a cheese and charcuterie board particularly outside is one of the most fun culinary adventures as you can build each bite a bit differently and try out lots of different combinations or tasty morsels. There’s really no wrong way to build up your cheese board, and a bit of practice will go a long way! Have a favorite pairing? Drop it in the comments!