How to Create a Cheeseboard: Guest Post From Shubie's in Marblehead

Brie, Raisins and Rosemary.jpeg

I am thrilled to share with you Dougy Shube's guest post on how to create the perfect cheese board when entertaining. This info is perfectly timed as we're approaching Easter and Passover.  If you aren't familiar with Shubies in downtown Marblehead, MA you're missing out!  Dougy and his team know their stuff and they just might be the friendliest, kindest people I know!

If you and your friends are anything like me and my friends, getting together for a low key hang out night can feel like a tiny victory. It just doesn’t happen enough! And now that the night is finally here, who is bringing what?

Hopefully your friends love cheese just as much as mine do, so I usually am in charge of the cheese board, which kind of feels like cheating since I’ve been around cheese since I was ten. Cheese should be fun, and whether you're a guest at my house or my cheese counter at Shubie’s (my other “house”), I want cheese to be a moooo-ving experience. 

And putting together a show-stopping cheese board is a lot easier than you think. It’s a question I get a lot at Shubie’s, so I’ve listed below some tips.

How many cheeses should I serve and how much? Mix it up! I typically suggest three to five cheeses and you should typically assume 1 oz per cheese per person (for a party of 8, you would get a minimum of 1/2 lb of each cheese). Any fewer than three and it might look skimpy, but more than five and your guests could be overwhelmed and looking for the chips and dip!

What kind of cheese should I get?  Cheese is made in many styles, all over the world, from a variety of milk types—goat, sheep, cow, water buffalo—try highlighting varying styles, textures, appearances and milk types. If you’re invited to a party and don’t know the people that well, it’s sometimes safer to stick with crowd pleasers like brie, gouda and cheddar.

What about putting my board together…help!  You got this far—you can do it! I like using dark slate or wooden boards for a beautiful contrast. And in a world full of wedges, cutting up blocks of cheese into smaller shapes can make it visually more appealing and easier for your guests to enjoy, too. Each cheese should have its own knife for serving. Make sure to use some of the accoutrements listed below for contrast…have fun!

One of the biggest questions I get at the Shubie's cheese counter is, “What should I serve with my cheeses?” Here are some of my favorite cheese accessories:

  • fresh fruit: add color (and abundance) to your table with the use of grapes or berries. Serving up some cheddar? Slice up some apples for a winning combo!
  • olives: need a pleasant and briny break between bites? Look no further than olives! Pro tip: live a small bowl for pits :)
  • jam: with a more direct sweetness than dried fruit, jams help balance flavors with a softer texture, too.
  • dried fruit: figs, dates or apricots are a great sweet-but-not-too-sweet companion to almost any cheese. Blue cheese and figs makes for a sweet finish to any night.
  • nuts: bring great texture to the table especially when serving creamy cheeses. I love Spanish Marcona almonds!
  • charcuterie: turn a snack into a meal! Prosciutto, Serrano ham, or salami…any way you slice it, they all work perfectly.

My final words on curds… For some, a visit to the cheese counter can be intimidating. I always say that a good cheese counter or shop wants you to learn and wants you to taste. If they aren’t willing to do either of those, I strongly suggest you search until you find people with passion…it’s more fun for everyone!

And when it comes to creating your cheese board, start with what you like, what you know and work from there. And before you know it, you’ll be your own cheese whiz.