EASY ENTERTAINING: MY TOP 10 CHEESES FOR A CHEESE BOARD

When I have to whip up something fast for a party, there is nothing easier to put together than a cheese board--- and who doesn’t love cheese! Simply find an interesting tray or a fun item on which to serve your selection of cheeses. For example, I like to use the boards from a wine crate to serve cheeses. I lightly sand them with fine gauge sandpaper then wash them with water and very little soap. After they dry, I take wax paper and rub across the top of the board to lightly wax it—almost like waxing a surf board. I make sure to provide each cheese with a label to let guests know the names. I always get calls after the party from someone asking for the name of “that cheese I loved” as they stand in front of the counter at the grocery store. Here are a few of my favorite “go-to” cheeses. Shop at a local specialty store or a good organic grocery like Whole Foods to find these; you typically won’t find them at a discount store.

 The top of a wine crate makes a wonderful tray for a cheese board. Make sure to sand it first, wash it well, let it dry and then rub wax paper over it before using it to serve.

The top of a wine crate makes a wonderful tray for a cheese board. Make sure to sand it first, wash it well, let it dry and then rub wax paper over it before using it to serve.

  1. Manchego: Spain. This is my all-time favorite. I have noticed it in lots of stores lately so it must be increasing in popularity. Maybe that’s because I have served Manchego at every party, picnic, or tailgate I have hosted since my first trip to Spain in 1997. Get the Manchego that has been aged for twelve months. It is worth the price difference.
  2. Saint Andre: France This soft, smooth triple cream cow’s milk cheese is on every single cheese board I present, also. It is almost like brie but tastes better and is not as thin as brie in appearance.  Delicious when served with a fresh baguette and pear or apple slices, this one is really a crowd pleaser.
  3. Belle Chevre: Alabama A soft, ripened goat cheese that pairs well with honey and pears or wild mushrooms and earthy flavors.  
  4. Valdeon: Spain An award winner for Spain’s best blue cheese, the distinctive sycamore leaf wrapping makes this cow and goat’s milk blue stand out in a crowd. It is a less intense blue cheese, perfect for a cheese board and paired with smoked or cured meats.
  5. Quickes Farm Traditional Cheddar: England This is everything a good cheddar should be. The rich sharp flavor has a slightly spicy undertone. Everyone will ask about this one.
  6. Amsterdam Reserve Gouda: Holland Gouda is a familiar favorite but this young cow’s milk variety is very creamy with a hint of honey and butterscotch.  
  7. Cypress Grove Midnight Moon Goat Cheese: California Firm, dense, and smooth, this pale ivory cheese is a perfect compliment to cured meats and fruit.
  8. Amadeus: Austria Buttery soft with a Havarti-like taste that is best paired with something sweet like figs or roasted meats like turkey and chicken.
  9. Brillat Savarin: France Rich and buttery with a sweet but tangy taste, this triple cream brie is best served with grapes, apples, and pears.
  10. Parmigiano Reggiano: Italy It is impossible to have a top ten list without this one. Most people think it is just for cooking or grated over pasta, but it is wonderful alone or with crusty bread, dipped in good balsamic vinegar, and with olives. It has a complex nutty flavor and dense, slightly grainy texture.