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Step-by-step: preparing a cheese board Add to ...

How much cheese?

No matter how many guests you have, stick to three to five cheeses

If your cheese board is your main appetizer or acting as a course in your meal, you can assume about 1 to 1-1/2 ounces per cheese per person.

If you are leaving the cheese board out for a larger group or people are dropping in over a long period of time, have your cheese monger cut each cheese into two wedges (or buy two wheels of a smaller cheese like Camembert). This way you can easily refresh your cheese tray half way through the night to keep it looking inviting.

Types of cheese

Try to pick cheeses that cover different milk and cheese styles, with different levels of intensity.

Lay out your cheese from mildest to most powerful. A nice selection could include a semi-firm sheep's milk cheese, a goat cheese with an ash-rind, a soft, oozy washed-rind and a cow's milk blue cheese.

Serving

Use different knives for each cheese. You don't want your mild sheep's milk cheese to start tasting like your blue cheese.

Make sure you take your cheeses out of the fridge about an hour before guests arrive to let them come to room temperature. If the cheese is too cold you will not experience the full character and flavour of each wedge.

If you're serving your cheeseboard with a fortified wine like port, you could put two styles of blue cheese on the board, one mild and one a little spicier.

Last, good curd is great for a party. You can have it around the room in little bowls for snacking, and it's a very non-messy and kid-friendly.

Accompaniments

Lean toward plain baguette and plain crackers, as you want to showcase the cheese.

For contrasting flavours you can put out some candied nuts, some honey and quince paste (or any fruit preserve). Anything sweet is good choice especially with a sharp cheese. Dried fruit will always go well and last well all night.

You can also add pickled vegetables for a sharp cleansing note to the board.

Most simple of all, some fresh, ripe fruit like apple or pear is a perfect match.

And finally, don't stress about the cheese board. Once you've bought good quality cheeses even if you just slice up a baguette, your board will be a success.

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