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Nov 19, 2013 05:23 PM

Beautiful Cheese Boards and a request

With the holiday season creeping up, I'm looking over pages and pages of beautiful cheese board designs, cheese recommendations and pairing ideas.

Blogger, Creative Mom (just one of the random sites I found myself floating in) has some nice visuals, pairings and some display tips.

What are your cheese board ideas for the holidays? What types of cheeses do you consider with so many other foods on your holiday menu? Do you serve cheese at the start or as part of dessert? This might be an excellent time to discuss wine pairings as well as what you've come up with for interesting nibbles.


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  1. I've completely stopped serving cheese at the beginning of a meal. Some months ago hotoynoodle pointed out that appetizers are supposed to whet the appetite, not kill it. That made a ton of sense to me. Last night's little dinner party I had some olives and peppers and nuts. That was it.

    5 Replies
    1. re: c oliver

      When do you serve cheese, at dessert? Or, are you saying you completely stopped serving cheese altogether.

      I'm still undecided on what I'm doing. Haven't gone cheese shopping for the holidays. So I thought I'd ask the board :)

      1. re: HillJ

        I frequently serve it at the end of a meal. It seems to surprise most people but they like it. Or maybe when all we're doing is noshing.

        1. re: c oliver

          Yeah I'm with you there. The cheese dessert tray is probably my favorite on vacation especially. And I also agree about it being the nosh-meal answer too.

          It's the big bash holiday meal that has me scratching my head a bit because friends and family stop in all day; some stay for the main some come for a nibble. Goes all day, all night.

          1. re: HillJ

            I love it after dinner served with deaaert

            1. re: fldhkybnva

              With all the cheeses you've been trying and sharing on the Board, any in particular you would recommend for a dessert tray?

    2. Thanks anyway, I made an appt with the local cheese cave and they're going to help me for the holiday.

      1. Just in terms of presentation, I think the mistake people make is putting out pieces of cheese that are too big: they're unwieldy to cut into and become messy-looking very quickly. It's better to start with small pieces and refresh if necessary.

        For hard cheeses it's probably best to precut slices (present them attractively arranged or propped up on the remainder of the wedge), or again you run into the "unwieldy" problem. I hate hacking away at a big hunk of firm cheese or trying to use a cheese plane without using a bare hand to steady the cheese while people are watching!

        Decorate around the small pieces of cheese with whatever accompaniments you like (small clusters of grapes, nuts, membrillo or other preserves, etc.).

        4 Replies
          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            Thanks Ruth I really appreciate some examples.

            1. re: HillJ

              I know that somewhere I have pictures of the cheese plate I had at a restaurant a while back, but darned if I can find it!

              Oh, here it is:

          2. I agree with Ruth but I like the look of large chunks. I think a good rule is that if the cheese is softer, you can leave it in a larger chunk. If it's hard, chunk or slice it - but do it as close to serving time as possible to preserve flavor.

            This cheese plate is made up of the following cheeses (starting at 12:00 and working clockwise):
            Harbison - Jasper Hill Farms
            Coolea - Ireland (Gouda Style)
            Up in Smoke - River's Edge Chevre
            Holey Cow - Central Coast Creamery
            Caveman Blue - Rogue Creamery
            Parmigiano-Reggiano 32 month - Italy (chunked above the Holey Cow)

            I actually prefer a smaller assortment - 5 at most - but this customer insisted on a larger selection for his wine tasting group. There is also some locally produced salumi, grapes, Marcona almonds and strawberry-balsamic preserves that are amazing with the Caveman.

            I still serve cheese as a starter course but have had it as a dessert course and really liked that also. I think if you limit your amounts - to say, 2oz per person - it keeps guests from getting too full before dinner. In our family, we need food to absorb the wine before dinner...

            Here's the link to the photo for a larger look:

            6 Replies
            1. re: Sushiqueen36

              Very nice! Aesthetically, I think the size of the cheese chunks should be proportional to the size of the board and should allow enough space that people can manoeuvre the cutting implements easily.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                Agree. There needs to be room for spreaders, knives, spoons, whatever. And I would never take a huge wedge and just plop it down. Cut in half or smaller. You can always have it out of the fridge in case you need to replenish.

                1. re: c oliver

                  To each their own. I find plates with just chunks and slices to be boring aesthetically so I like to make sure and include wedges or chunks. It's also very difficult to slice up blue into easily serve-able pieces. It's hard to tell but the Harbison is elevated on a small glass compote and since it's scooped out, it has all the room it needs... as does the Up in Smoke - it's resting on the maple leaf it comes wrapped in. Since I wouldn't be there to monitor or replenish this plate, cutting the blue in half wouldn't have been practical and would have inconvenienced the customer.

                  1. re: Sushiqueen36

                    I'm not disagreeing with you. I think what the cheeses are served on just need to be enough for the 'hardware' to fit there also and that it not be so full that it's hard to get to. That's all.

              2. re: Sushiqueen36

                Great ideas here, thank you for the suggestions and the portion reminders.

              3. Last night we had the cheese plate with dessert, it was nice to have a not too sweet option to the pecan pie.

                The cheese selection was small since there were only 8 of us, on a large rectangular tray was a soft triple cream from cowgirl creamery with dried apricots next to it, then a semi-firm sheeps milk i'm blanking to it a dried fig-almond cake wedge, and then an aged hard goatsmilk cheddar with honeycomb next to it, fresh grapes and water crackers also on the platter.
                There was an amazing pedro jimenez for the cheeses, which was kind of intense but worked well.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Ttrockwood

                  Sounds wonderful and the dessert option was thoughtful, I would have been all over that cheese plate many times over before I even looked at the pie.

                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                    Ditto. All of your mentioned cheeses mild to intense and nibbles sound like a platter I would adore. Thank you for the inspiration. I'm a big fan of dried fruit & cheese combos and those dried fig-almond cakes they sell at most cheese shops are among my favorites; especially the style that's sold like salami.

                  2. re: Ttrockwood

                    I LOVE honeycomb with cheese! The board sounds perfect.