Is there really anything better than cheese? Like, REALLY though, can you name anything better? Now, add to that charcuterie, fall fruits, nuts, and a selection of breads and you’ve got yourself a party! Cheese boards are one of my favorite things to plan, style, and not to mention eat, and today I’m going to spill all of my secrets with you on how to make the perfect cheese & charcuterie board for fall!
Because I’m all about eating for the season, this spread features hints of harvest in the form of pumpkin seeds, pomegranates, apples, pears, and grapes! (all fall foods that are currently in season!) Not only are these foods fresh for the season, but they also are excellent compliments to various cheeses! For funsies, feel free to add a decorative gourd, pumpkin, or autumn leaves to the mix- I added dark purple flowers (seemed fitting as we are in Halloween week now!) and sprigs of rosemary throughout (which happened to make everything smell ahhhmazing btw).
Now, on to the good stuff…
Breaking Down The Board
1. Picking Your Cheeses
Your cheeses should be your first order of importance for the board, as most of the flavors to follow will be chosen based off of what pairs the best with the cheeses you picked! It’s good to get not only a variety of flavors and textures, but also a variety of milk sources too: cow’s milk cheese, goat’s milk cheese, and/or sheep’s milk cheese. A typical guide to follow, is one aged cheese (aged cheddar or aged Gouda), blue cheese (Gorgonzola or Roquefort), firm cheese (Parmegiano or Manchego), soft cheese (Camembert or Brie). Because of all of the added flavors in this cheese board with the flavored nuts, spicy chutneys, and flavored olives, I wanted to be sure to pick cheeses that did not have added flavor and were “pure” in form- aka I stayed away from “blueberry goat cheese” and “Toscano with black pepper”. As a rule, sticking to 3-4 cheeses is perfect, depending on the size of your party! I liked leaving the cheeses in their block form vs cutting them in slices. If you choose to do this as well, have a separate cheese knife for each so that your potent blue doesn’t mix with your light and airy ricotta!
2. Choosing Your Charcuterie
Whew, now that the cheese is out of the way, let’s get to the charcuterie! As with the cheeses, it’s good to have different textures with the charcuterie. By that I mean, a hard salami and a soft prosciutto and an even softer pate is absolutely perfect! Plus, how fancy are you serving pate at your next partay? Additionally, feel free to go with different flavors as well! I went with a Chianti red wine salami and then a spicy chorizo.
3. The Fruits
Time to get seasonal! With my fruits for this platter, I tried to stick with things that are currently in season to elaborate on the whole “fall” thing. This included pomegranates, apples, pears, and grapes. While you can most definitely do fresh fruits, dried fruits are great as well such as these dried figs I used on this board! I cut up half of the fruit for eating, and left the other half as added decor on the board.
Mmmmmmm….spreads! Time to bust out the chutneys, mustards, preserves, jams, honey (honeycomb looks gorg on a cheese board btw), tampenades, and even carmelized onions! I carmelized onions for this spread in red wine, and it was amazing. Since I’m obsessed with spicy food, I picked a pomegranate and jalapeno pepper chutney to feature which paired so well with the light ricotta!
Now on to the bread- varying taste and texture are perfect for this! Crunchy breadsticks with a soft French baguette and a whole grain loaf are what I went with for this spread! I didn’t want the bread too hard and crisp, instead I put in in the toaster oven on warm so that it just got lightly golden and was still soft enough to pull apart.
6. All the Extras
Time for the extras! Nuts are a great compliment to a cheese board, as are olives, Capricorns, artichokes, sun dried tomatoes, the sky’s the limit. What ever you think you and your guests will like, I say go for it!
How To Style The Platter Like A Pro
1. Start with your cheese
Arrange your cheeses first on the platter, spread out from one another so your potent blue doesn’t hit on your sweet cheese. These babies steal the show and go on first!
2. Next the charcuterie
Next, mix the meats in amongst the cheeses. You can even put certain meats next to certain cheeses as a subtle suggestion to your guests if you think certain pairings are ideal.
3. Bowls and Jars
Time for the bowls and jars of chutneys, mustards, honey, olives, anything that needs to be contained. place these on different levels as well for added interest!
4. Fruits and Veggies
Next, add in your fruits where there’s still space! This includes draping a string of grapes along the chutney bowl, or filling in that cheese-to-charcuterie gap with some dried figs!
Add your breads in on the sides in baskets, wrapped in cloths, or on other bread boards. I added a couple slices of baguette to the main platter for decor!
6. The Utensils
Finally, add in utensils to the platter: cheese knives for the cheeses, little spoons for the chutneys, and toothpicks or anything else you can think of to make serving easy for you and your guests.
Wine Not? Perfect Vino + Cheese Pairings
Don’t forget the wine! Here are some perfect cheese + wine pairings for you to pick from..
Camembert + Champagne
Gouda + Merlot
Cheddar + Cabernet Sauvignon
Gorgonzola + Port
Mozzerella + Sauvignon Blanc
Ricotta + Pinot Grigio
Blue + Riesling
Brie + Chardonnay
Food Porn (aka let me bomb you with photos)
A well done cheese and charcuterie board is probably the easiest yet most impressive appetizer for a party. (or heck-meal if you eat like me and consider “cheese” and entree!) Not only is it tasty and delicious, but it can prove to be a delightful centerpiece for the evening. An added bonus, is how sophisticated are you as the hostess for killing it on the whole “wine and cheese pairing” thing!? Excited about making your own cheese & charcuterie board now? Just one final general rule for it all: be sure to invite me 😉