Happy new year friends! I hope everyone had as wonderful of a holiday with family and friends as I did. I'm in charge of Christmas Eve every year.
I spent about a month yabbering about how excited I was for this day. How epic it is. The copious amounts of cheese to be consumed. It is my favorite.
This was the most epic of cheese boards ever. A cheese board
the size of my kitchen table to feed 9 hungry beasts! There were no sad
bellies on this day. Not a single one. Happy Santa bellies for all!
I'm surprised it took me this long to dedicate a whole post to cheese, being Cheese Club president and all. Not to mention I could eat this for dinner every day all day. Who doesn't love a cheese, meat and crackers for dinner? Crazy people. Today is the day people!
I break pretty much every "rule" there is to making a cheese board because I get too excited. I want ALL of the cheese. Plus, there aren't really any hard and fast rules for a cheeseboard - except to have fun!
If you are not as big of a nut about cheese or it is your first time, here are some general guidelines. You'll want a firm cheese, like a firm aged cheddar (always a crowd pleaser) or gouda; a hard cheese like a parmesan or asiago, that is a little salty and flaky when you cut into it; a soft goats cheese (my favorite!); a mild, creamy, not too salty blue cheese; finally, a triple cream brie or camabert, warmed slightly.
I usually go overboard an have a few cheeses from each of these categories, which is good and bad. Choices, variety, and options are never bad. On the other hand, with too many choices you get a bit lost in the land of cheese, everything blending together with no clear favorite.
This year I even included two cheese balls! A cheddar one and a goat cheese one. No recipe to share unfortunately, but excellent contribution to any cheese board. I will be experimenting with them in the near future.
The perfect cheese board doesn't end with cheese. Accoutrements are a must, such as your favorite local jams and jellies. I always include fig jam.
Honey is a must too and if you can find a honey comb, buy it. It is amazing. It is sweet, semi-soft, crystalized, crunchy magic in your mouth. Honey goes great with things like goat cheese or blue cheese.
Pickled, briny things are a must too. Lots of olives if you are me. Love me some olives! I usually go to Whole Foods or the Co-op and pick from the olive bar: garlic-stuffed, Herbes de Provence, kalamata etc.
This year I found some pickled ramps and fermented brussel sprouts from Underground Butcher to change things up a little.
I always include a few types of meat as well. The men in my life love themselves some meat. Prosciutto is a must. A lot of prosciutto, which I get from Fraboni's. Then I usually go to Underground Butcher and pick out a two cured meats to thinly slice along side the prosciutto.
If you have never been to Underground Butcher, check it out. They have a lot of fun and creative sausages, in addition to a lovely meat case.
There also needs to be a variety of crackers and bread like vessels for your cheese, honey and jam. Finally, some grapes are always a delicious and beautiful addition to round out the cheese board. A variety of nuts are also a welcome addition, for those snackers out there who need a break from the cheese.
Below I've included all the information I just discussed, with fewer words and random thoughts, along with specific cheeses I love. Remember to have fun with it, these are just guidelines, make it your own.
Before we get to that might I suggest if you have not made plans for NYE, to invite all your friends over, with the small task of bringing their favorite meat or cheese over and ring in the new year with a belly full of cheese! You provide the accoutrements and maybe a bottle or two of bubbly and no regrets.
Cheese Board Guidelines:
Aged cheese: aged cheddar or gouda; two of my favorites are Hook's 10 year cheddar or Marieke's aged gouda
Firm cheese: Asiago, Parmesan or Satori Bellavitano Merlot, Raspberry or Cognac or any other wine washed Parmesan
Blue cheese: Any creamy, mild blue cheese or Gorgonzola, or my favorite Hook's Little Boy Blue
Chevre or goat cheese: Cypress Grove Humbolt Fog or a truffled soft goat.
Semi-soft cheese: brie, camabert or St. Andre
Breads: baguette, crostini, water crackers, hard breadsticks, whole wheat crackers, fruit and nut crackers, and little toasts
Charcuterie: thinly sliced prosciutto, hard salami, cured meats, pepperoni
Jams and jellies: bacon jam, fig jam, fruit jams/jellies/perseveres (Quince and Apple, my favorite from WI), honeycomb or honey
Fruit and nuts: marcona almonds, black pepper almonds, corn nuts, dried apricots, fresh or dried figs, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, fresh or dried pears
Salty and briny snacks: olive medley, pickled vegetables, cornichons, mustard