New York — December 10, 2018 Edible centerpieces are all the rage, and the holidays are a perfect time to create them. A cheeseboard serves as both a visual focal point but also an appetizer, which can be a starting point for conversations and a way to set the mood. It can also encourage your guests to take their place at the table!
Wondering which cheeses to use? Charles Duque, Managing Director of CNIEL, Americas states, “Always use a variety of different cheeses, including washed rind, soft, hard and a pungent blue. And don’t forget to let them come to room temperature.” Duque recommends taking cheeses out of the refrigerator a full hour before serving them.
Start with Slate
The black background of slate creates drama with cheeseboards. You can also draw on the slate using chalk to identify the cheeses you serve. Speaking of cheeses, it is best to place the stronger and more pungent cheeses further away from the milder cheeses and serve both sliced and whole for more variety. Looking for a mild cheese you can serve whole? Pont l'Evêque made in Normandy is soft, mild, and milky but because it’s a washed-rind cow's milk cheese it’s less likely to absorb strong flavors of more stinky cheeses.
For visual appeal fill empty spaces on your board with a range of colorful and different shaped fruit such as berries and stone fruit cut in slices. Adding dried fruit adds intense flavor and a different texture. In the winter a few good options include dried apricots, fresh grapes, and apples. Apples pair particularly well with PDO, Fourme d’Ambert, which is a buttery, soft, and earthy cheese produced high in the mountains of the Auvergne region.
To create a savory charcuterie plate, you can add flavor with chutney and a selection of saucisson and pâté. Olives and roasted nuts are also a must for any cheeseboard. Herbed crackers and sesame bread sticks add contrasting flavors and textures and work with a variety of cheeses. Soft and gooey cheeses such as the washed rind cows milk cheese Époisses are particularly good for this occasion. Serve this cheese directly from its round wooden box with a spoon. Think of it as a dip! Use vegetables such as radish slices, carrot sticks, and trimmed green beans to add savory notes and more texture.
A nature theme is fitting for the harvest season. Christy Rost, public television chef, host, and cookbook and lifestyle author says, “For autumn use a table runner as an anchor and think of it as your centerpiece. Use fresh green moss and wood containers, platters and plates displaying a selection of cheeses, garnished with decorative cheese "flowers" to create a fall theme.” Autumn leaves such as fig leaves are a perfect bed for cheeses, especially served with a spoonful of fresh ricotta cheese topped with herbs and olive oil.
Add a splash of color!
Add red and green accents to highlight the holiday theme. For green, try stems of rosemary or clusters of green grapes. For red, a bowl of pomegranate seeds or dried cranberries will do the trick. The tanginess of cranberries is a natural fit with the softness of the Brie. Pour a few spoons of cranberry sauce over a wheel of Brie and then cut into it.
About the Cheeses of Europe
The Cheeses of Europe Marketing Campaign, orchestrated by Cniel (The French Dairy Inter-Branch Organization) and funded in part by the European Union, was designed to create awareness for the variety of European cheeses available in the US market and to suggest ways that American consumers can incorporate those cheeses into their diets, recipes and lifestyles. The campaign’s goal is to increase the appeal of European cheeses and strengthen their competitive position in the growing specialty cheese category.
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