If you’re making a holiday cheese board to impress your foodie friends, persnickety parents, or significant other’s mom (good move!) — your board should be dressed to impress. So how do you make a cheese board that looks great, tastes great, and feels festive?
We asked the cheese experts at Fromagination — a mainstay cheese shop on Madison’s Capitol Square — for some advice on how to create the perfect holiday board. ‘Tis the season to wow your loved ones with an excellent cheese board!
Cheese Board 101
Before you start planning your festive cheese board composition, get your goods prepped and ready to place. Fromagination’s expert cheesemongers offer four simple rules:
- Cut semi-hard and hard cheese slices into cubes.
- For cheeses that are aged in a “wheel” shape, be sure to cut slices from the center to the outside of the wheel to get the entire flavor of the cheese.
- Slice cured meats into circles or half-moons.
- Fold delicate strips of meat.
- Clean and prep product, including pitting stones.
Ken Monteleone, owner and founder of Fromagination, recommends placing your cheeses and any ramekins on the board first to shape your composition.
“Fill in gaps with chunky items like nuts and crackers between the cheese and produce,” he said. “Keep bold flavors such as olives and raspberries separate.”
But how do we take the fundamentals of good cheese boards and give them some holiday flair? Let’s take a look.
Use festive shapes to customize your design.
Wreaths, trees, snowflakes — there are plenty of shapes that give off festive vibes. Arranging your cheese board into a festive shape is perhaps the easiest way to elevate your cheese board for the holiday season.
Want to take it up a notch? Use holiday cookie cutters to cut slices of cheese into festive shapes — or cut a snowflake into your block of soft cheese for an awe-inspiring centerpiece.
Add in some classic holiday flavors.
Now’s the time to utilize festive flavors to take your cheese board to new holiday heights. Nutkrack, an acclaimed Madison candied pecan company, makes a special Winter Warmer flavor that adds a punch of cinnamon and spice to any cheese board.
“Nutkrack pecans are our favorite nuts that pair nicely with cheese,” Monteleone said.
Whether it’s a tart cranberry jam, a brandy-soaked soft cheese, or some roasted chestnuts, the holiday flavor possibilities are endless.
Show off goods from your local area.
Have family visiting from out of town? Show them what your area has to offer by using unique, local artisan food items.
Monteleone and his cheesemongers created a Wisconsin old fashioned inspired holiday cheese board — it showcases local goods and uses the flavors of Wisconsin’s favorite cocktail in unexpected ways. The star of this board is a brandy-infused Blakesville Creamery goat cheese called Holiday Cheer.
“It’s wrapped in cherry leaves and soaked in brandy and orange, a take on the Wisconsin Old Fashioned,” Monteleone said. “We also added a Hook’s five-year cheddar, a crowd-pleasing cheese that will give your board a pop of color, and a Marieke Gouda, a creamy cheese we like to cut in long wedges.”
Shopping at local businesses like Fromagination supports the local economy and helps your cheese board stand out from the crowd. Your guests from out of town are sure to be impressed!
Top it off with festive garnishes.
The devil is in the details — and that couldn’t be more true for charcuterie boards. Add some herbs, cranberries — anything that gives your board some added color and dimension. This will make your board stand out in photos and catch the eye of holiday guests.
“Herbs are nice for a holiday tray, and rosemary and thyme add a festive touch,” Monteleone said. “Dried [fruits] as a garnish can give your tray some added texture.”
Use code “meft10” for 10% off your Fromagination order!
Our partners at Fromagination are offering readers of the post 10% off their Fromagination order to create amazing cheese boards for the holidays. Use the code meft10 online or in store — code is good until January 1st, 2023.
Fromagination ships cheese nationwide, which means you can get the best cheese board supplies, no matter where you live.
We hope you enjoyed our post on holiday cheese boards. Happy holidays from the team at Madison Eats Food Tours. Book a tour and enjoy a unique food and culture experience with your loved ones!
What’s on the Board: