Cheesin’ it up

Here are a few tips for setting out an interesting cheese board:

  1. Choose a nice board to serve your cheese on. I like the newer style bamboo cutting boards for cheese service. They are perhaps too pretty and too soft to actually cut on, but perfect for serving food.
  2. Bring cheese to room temperature before serving for best flavor.
  3. Serve a separate small knife for each type of cheese (so one knife isn’t used on multiple cheeses). 
  4. Rather than organizing cheese by the classic three milk types, perhaps pick a theme for your cheese (that will compliment your other appetizers and wine selection as well). An example is serving only cheeses from Italy or a collection of all-American blue cheeses.
  5. Don’t cut cheese into individual portions. Serve them in wedges or blocks.  That helps to increase the longevity of the cheese.
  6. Cheese is a complex and ever-changing topic. Keep a small notebook and take notes (and photos) of cheeses you enjoy.

We make specialty fruit and nut breads daily to serve with our cheese. We also serve a small basket of plain baguettes or crackers for more complex selections. I trim a small branch from my black currant bushes along the trail and spread it down the middle of our cheese board to separate different cheeses.

I like to experiment and make condiments and preserves to go with the variety of cheeses, such as rhubarb chutney, pickled beets, or hot and spicy pickles.  A treasure every summer is the small amount of rose petal jam I can make from wild roses near the lodge.  One time, years ago, I tried to make nasturtium jam to go with our cheese board. That didn’t work out so well. The whole house filled with a bitter and spicy aroma for hours. The smell made everyone a little nauseous.  I can’t tolerate the smell of nasturtiums to this day.

A current favorite cheese I like to serve is Shropshire blue cheese from the UK. Shropshire blue is a cow’s-milk blue cheese made with vegetable rennet and annatto, a natural food coloring that adds a surprising orange color to the cheese. Shropshire blue has been called “Stilton colored with sunshine”. Serve Shropshire on a slice of chocolate walnut bread spread with a bit of rhubarb chutney.


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