Some people have signature dishes or cocktails that are staples at just about any gathering. Despite my newfound love for cooking, my absolute go-to when hosting or bringing a dish to share is this: a cheese board.
The humble cheese board (or “snack dinner,” as I sometimes like to call it), may often be overlooked for its so-called simplicity. However, I consider myself a bit of a cheese board scientist. While your run-of-the-mill cheese boards consist of brie, a nice parmesan, and maybe something a little wild like a gouda, I like to push the envelope. I’ve experimented with different types of cheeses, like a Roquefort or a Manchego—ones with a bold flavor, consistency, or, for lack of a better term, smell.
Like a scientist, I’ve noted that while most people politely nibble here and there on different cheese varieties, one particular kind of cheese is consumed consistently. Through trial and error (and plenty of taste testing), I’ve crafted the perfect cheese board consisting of only one variety of cheese. An ALL cheddar cheese board. Give the people what they want, right?
So, how does one craft the perfect cheddar cheese board?
Obviously, it’s important to start with remarkably good cheese. I’m not talking about your garden-variety cheddar here. Rather, I’d recommend vintage cheddars, from a co-op out of Oregon. Yes, I’m talking about Tillamook, my friends.
We used the 2012 and 2016 Maker’s Reserve in this cheese board. Much like wine, the Tillamook Maker’s Reserve cheeses develop their flavors through the natural process of aging. The longer they age, the “sharper” and more flavorful they become. These two cheddars use the same century-old cheddar recipe and the same proprietary cultures as every other Tillamook Cheddar, except a team of sensory experts tastes and select the specific lots of cheddar to age. (Editor’s note: Where can I apply for this job?!) You can learn more about the Maker’s Reserve story here!
As someone who has put together their fair share of cheese boards, I know that once you select the cheese, this is where the fun begins. Again, much like wine, the flavor of cheese is enhanced by what it’s paired with, so grab your cheese and get ready to experiment with flavors and textures.
Let’s start with the description of the cheeses themselves:
Personally, I gravitate to the classics of any cheese tray: fatty meats, olives, jams, and almonds. A good rule of thumb is to fill your board with both sweet and savory items, a mix that highlights or balances the texture and taste of a particular cheese.
When in doubt? Ask the experts. The cheesemongers at Tillamook had a few recommendations to highlight the flavors of these beautifully aged cheddars:
As a visual person, I think the presentation of the cheese board is just as important as the taste. I like to ensure the board is visually appealing—a literal feast for the eyes. When assembling, think about surrounding the cheese with the items that will enhance the flavor, making it as user-friendly as possible. You want your guests to have an understanding of what pairs well together, without you standing by the cheese board all night (which really wouldn’t be all that bad).
Let’s be honest, there’s no such thing as a “bad” cheese board. But if you really want to up your entertaining game for success, be sure to pick up Tillamook Maker’s Reserve, now available in select grocery stores in the fine cheese section and deli, or online. Want to see if your favorite grocer carries Tillamook Maker’s Reserve? Find Maker’s Reserve near you here. You can even Order your favorites online!
I shared food pairings, but what should I be drinking with all this delicious cheese?
Ed. note: This post was sponsored by Tillamook. The compensation received in exchange for placement on Wit & Delight is used to purchase props, hire a photographer, write/edit the blog post, and support the larger team behind Wit & Delight.
While compensation was received in exchange for coverage, all thoughts and opinions are always my own. Sponsored posts like these allow for development of additional dynamic content to be produced, unsponsored. Thank you for supporting our partners!
BY Kate Arends - December 18, 2019
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.