Cheese. From humble beginnings some 8,000 years ago, eating this edible delight now is a work of art. But what do you need to make the perfect cheese board? We’ve got the secret here!
It’s not unheard of for Mrs Romance and I to indulge in the occasional cheese dinner. We throw out the regular cutlery and reach for the cheese knife. We then bunker down, find a good film and bask in the wonders of dairy.
But it’s not just a case of grabbing any old cheese and plonking it on a plate. You’ve got to put some effort in. And just as you would if you’re preparing a cheese board for a dinner party – which we’ll also explore, your cheese dinner needs to be done properly.
Here are our tips for the perfect cheese board for a romantic dinner for two and if you’re making a cheese board to entertain guests.
The secret to the ultimate cheese board
With every cheese plate, you need balance and variety. You’re looking for what I call the Cheese Quartet on your board. It’s a combination of soft, hard, blue and something different.
However, you don’t necessarily have to have 4 different cheeses to make up the Cheese Quartet.
Cheese dinner for 2
The problem you face here is that there are over 2000 types of cheese and only 2 of you to eat them.
Our go-to is Gorgonzola dolce. It’s sweet yet full of flavour, it’s soft, blue and is also something different. So that ticks three of the four boxes for the Cheese Quartet.
Aged Cheddar will tick the last remaining box for a hard cheese. It should be crumbly and bitey, and completely the opposite to the Gorgonzola.
If you want to pig out, you can also get something like an ashed Chevre. Goat’s cheese gives a fresh tang to the board and the black ash, which is used to protect the surface of the cheese when it’s being made, gives a bit of interesting colour and a bit of smokiness.
Cheese board for your dinner party
The principles for a dinner party cheese board are the same as when it’s just cheese for two. The difference is, with more people, you can have more cheese!
The Cheese Quartet
Soft: a Brie or a Camembert is always a safe option here. Go for double or triple cream for extra flavour. Alternatively try finding some French Munster-Gerome, which is stronger tasting and smelling.
Hard: Cheddar is still a good option here, though an aged Manchego or even Parmigiano Reggiano Parmesan would work well.
Blue: Gorgonzola dolce is an easy choice as it’s an accessible blue cheese. Otherwise there are some nice, smelly Stiltons easily available, and Roquefort, which is actually made from sheep’s milk, is delicious.
Something different: there are some weird and wonderful cheeses out there, especially if you can find a good cheese shop to buy from. Just ask at the counter for something different. I’m sure they’ll be keen to help.
We love a very soft Italian cheese called Stracchino. It’s very mild and creamy with a slightly bitter taste to it, and when it gets to room temperature, it self-levels so you need to serve it in a bowl!
Washed-rind or smear-ripened Brie fits the ‘different’ label – it usually has a very funky smell and much stronger taste than the usual ‘bloomed’ Brie.
Labneh is a soft, sharp cheese from the Middle East. It’s made from yoghurt and is an excellent addition to a cheese plate – especially if you’re looking for something a bit lighter.
What else goes on your cheese board?
Now that you’ve got your cheese sorted, you need a few other things to bring it together.
It’d be a shame to have gone to all this trouble with your cheese to then spoil it with average crackers. We’re big fans of Tuckers crackers as they’re a good shape, have a good flavour selection and are Australian. We also like Lavosh and – for a gluten-free option – the Wellaby’s range is perfect.
Alternatively you can make your own crackers by slicing up some Lebanese flatbreads or wraps and toasting them – or simply some sliced Turkish bread or ciabatta makes for an excellent base for your cheese.
Cut up some crudité as well. It’s a good idea to have some fresh veggies with your cheese, so carrot and celery sticks, sliced capsicum, even broccoli florets will add extra freshness to your board.
Your cheese board doesn’t just have to be cheese. A few different dips will give a bit of variety. You’ll only need 1 or 2 dips – depending on how many people there are.
Other bits and pieces
Don’t limit yourself to just a cheese board – especially if you’re not having a full meal before or after. I like to include things like sliced meats, olives, stuffed bell peppers, marinated capsicum and fruit pastes like quince, plum, rhubarb… and let’s not forget fruit too. Grapes, strawberries, or apple, orange or pear slices, figs, muscatels… there’s so much you can do.
And then there’s the wine…
…but that’s a whole other story!
What do you put with your cheese? Do you have a favourite fromage? Tell us in the comments!