Google or search the terms #plattergoals or #cheeseboards and you will come up with a plethora of images that induce your very tastebuds. Works of art in cheese form are gracing the social feeds of everyone as we move into a more social way of eating.
If you have ever wanted to know what makes an amazing cheeseboard to incite those #plattergoals then read more from our resident food stylist @stylish_foodie who's instagram is filled with #foodporn and amazing tasting food. Follow his tips below for creating your own unique masterpiece that will be truly lust-worthy.
You want to choose a board that is big enough to fit all the necessary items onto your cheese board. It doesn't have to be a wooden board, think outside the square, a beautiful hammered antique tray, an old mirror (cleaned of course), a slab of marble. Anything will work, you can always line it with some baking paper if you are worried about whether it is safe to eat off.
Your board is only limited by your imagination and palate when it comes to cheese. Traditionally I work off 100g of cheese per person, but you can always go for more. I also usually offer 3 -5 different types of cheese depending on the number of people I am hosting. You always want a hard cheese, a soft cheese, a creamy cheese, a blue and then a wild card cheese.
When choosing these also think about flavour profiles and milks from different animals. I like to offer a mix of these as well between, sheep, cow and goats. Each animal milk gives a different flavour to the cheese. I also try and choose locally made where possible for cheeses.
Some of my favourite cheeses are, Whitestone for Camembert or Brie. Kapiti Kikorangi Blue or Kingsmeade Sunset Blue (for those that are just dipping into the world of Blue Cheese). Meyer Cumin Gouda, Linkwater Aged Cheddar.
You also want to serve your cheese at room temperature.
Once you have selected your cheese think of your accompaniments and pairings. I like to mix fresh and dried fruit onto a platter as they give different textures and pair well with different cheeses. Also have a mix of sweet, salt and savoury when it comes to these.Prosciutto, spicy salami, smoked salmon, olives, sun-dried tomatoes and cornichons are good salty savoury items, while grapes, berries, cucumber, capsicums cherry tomatoes, dried figs and sultanas are all good additions in terms of sweet items.
You also don't want to forget about chutneys, hummus, pestos, jellies, relishes and fruit pastes for adding more flavour options when it comes to your boards.
Think of these as your vessels to hold your cheese and accompaniments. You want to offer again a-mix of textures and flavours when deciding on your breads and crackers. You can't go wrong with water crackers, but think outside the box with crackers like black rice crackers, or oat crackers to add dimension and mouth feel. Sourdough, french baguette, rye or walnut breads are also good options, but these into similar sizes of the crackers for ease of eating but also presentation.
No cheese board is complete without cheese knives. You don't have to go out and spend a lot of money on these, you can use butter knives or vintage bone handle ones, but it is worth while to have a spereate knife for each cheese you are serving so that that flavours don't get mixed. Bowls to decant hummus and pesto into as well as teaspoons and little pickle forks are also necessary to help your guest pick.
It is true, that we eat with our eyes before we eat with our mouths. The fun really begins when you come to put it all together. I generally start with the cheese first, giving them all equal spacing amongst the board, your dips, and hummus etc, then your cured meats, then your fresh or dried fruits, vegetables and so on. I generally leave the nuts and olives to the last as these are space fillers, but don't put them on the side as they tend to roll off. I like to also add to the board some fresh sprigs of rosemary or edible flowers to finish off the look of the board.
When putting items on the board, try and think of your flavour profiles and pairings of cheese to accompaniments, Like apples are pear go great with blue cheese as does walnuts so pair those items close together. Sharp cheddar pairs well with cornichons, cured salami and relish so you want those items all within easy reach. You also want to work with opposing colours as well when presenting so not all the red food is together or all the orange food together break these up into sections so that the eye travels.
A tip for cured meats, is that you don't want to lay them flat, you want to make them visually appealing, so for prosciutto make them into piles of airy ribbons, or salami fold them into halves and fan them like a deck of cards,
If you are really stuck on how to present items, search Pinterest or instagram for pictures of boards and try and replicate it.
There is no right or wrong way to do this, it is all about experimenting with what you have and learning from what you did previously. It is food, don't stress if all else fails you can just put it in the middle of the table, pour yourself a drink and let people help themselves.
All photos supplied by @stylish_foodie