This is one of those not-really-a-recipe recipes, which are often the best ones. You can do exactly what I’ve laid out here or customize it to your liking.
The inspiration for the cheese in this recipe is from the incredible date nights at L’Albatros, where the cheese board was defined in Cleveland. There, you are presented with a 3 x 3 foot board of 20+ cheeses sorted by funkiness. One thing I have learned is to always, always, go for a blue cheese.
Share your appetizer board with the people you love, the people who challenge you, and the people who give you purpose, as I often do with my own team (you can read more about that in my story: My Team: Lessons in Not Going It Alone). What you put on it is up to you, but below I’ll give you my best suggestions picked from many nights gathered with friends around my own board.
So Much More Than a Cheeseboard
- 1 large wooden board: if it looks too big to buy, that’s the one. A simple piece of wood or a cutting board also works, just make sure it’s treated to be food safe.
- A set of cheese knives (three will normally do just fine: one for hard cheeses, another for firm cheeses, and the final for soft cheeses)
- Various ramekins and/or small dishes and serving spoons (optional, but helpful)
(n.b. think attractive geometry here – cut some cheese into slices or cubes, but leave the rest of the block whole for the guests to cut themselves)
- 1 hard/cheddar cheese
- 1 herby soft white cheese – dill and wildflower are my favorites
- 1-2 funky cheeses: one should be over the top: think lots of blue
- Almonds – plain or Marcona
- Pecans – the caramelized ones are amazing here
- Dried apricots and/or cranberries
- Blackberries, Raspberries or Strawberries
(n.b. these are best paired with hummus and as Ina says, store bought is fine, but if you need a recipe this one from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi is wonderful: Basic Hummus).
- Broccoli & Cauliflower
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Local Honey
- Fresh Rosemary
- Crackers and/or Bread (an assortment is always best)
- Fig Spread & Jams
Pick a few options from every category. You can pile everything right on the board or put items into small dishes and ramekins. It’s honestly impossible to mess up.
Finally, make sure all of your guests have plenty of wine, gather round the board and dig in. Don’t even bother with dinner – this is a feast in itself.