We’re lucky to live in a city FULL of amazing food. People know how to make local, fresh ingredients look beautiful and taste amazing.
One of those local people is our friend, Claire. We first met her at a launch party for the cookbook she’s co-authored called Flour City Flavor. It’s all about making local Rochester-grown ingredients taste amazing. Claire grew up in a big farm family where meals spent together were of great importance. Her love for gathering around the table with great food stayed with her throughout her adult life. Now, cooking is an outlet that helps her bring joy and show love to her family and friends. She also caters private events and provides personal chef services and cooking instruction to families in the Rochester, NY area. The minute you meet Claire, you feel warmed by her presence. She is a bubbly light of enthusiasm and energy and we just love her for that. We certainly need as much of that type of energy as we can get moving into the holiday season!
Our bond with Claire about the fun of entertaining sparked a conversation about how to perfectly plate and style offerings on our wood serving boards. We had all the pieces to make a great cheese board spread, but we needed Claire’s guidance to make them truly picture perfect. That has prompted us to send a little help your way for the holidays! We’ve asked Claire to break down the art of the cheese board for us.
Claire’s tips for creating an amazing cheese board:
Size of Board & Number of guests:
Consider the size of the cheese board in relation to the number of guests. You want a cheese board that everyone can try something from, but be careful not to over-fill a smaller board with too much.
Once you’ve determined the board size, breaking the food choices down into categories will help organize your ideas. Below is a list of the different categories for assembling a great cheese/charcuterie board. The idea is to pick one or more from each category depending on the size of the items and the board. Keep in mind how each of your selections pairs and tastes with each other, as well as the time of year you’re making your board. For example, apples would be great for fall.
1.) Cheese - choose from four types.
Aged - cheddar, gouda, provolone, parmesan
Blue - gorgonzola, maytag, stilton
Firm - manchego, immolate, asiago
Soft - goat, brie, mozzarella, ricotta
2.) Meat - salami, prosciutto, mortadella, jamon, sausage
3.) Condiments - honey, apple butter, fruit preserves/jams
4.) Nuts & Olives - marcona almonds, candied walnuts, kalamata olives
5.) Fruit - apples, pears, dried cranberries, figs, grapes
6.) Vegetables - tomatoes, pickles, snow peas, roasted peppers, roasted garlic
7.) Herbs ( fresh, for garnish ) - sage leaves, thyme, oregano, pea shoots
8.) Crackers / Bread / Bread Sticks
Make Selections & Arrange:
Choose and arrange the cheeses first (think about varying colors), then fill in with all the other ingredients. Use small bowls for nuts, olives, and condiments. Fill the board completely, creating an interesting display.