How to Build a Cheese Board

November 30, 2018
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I love to have a cheese and charcuterie board at the beginning of a holiday party because it brings all the guests together immediately and gives everyone a topic of conversation. A well-made cheese board is beautiful and offers interesting pairings. It is also a quick way to serve an appetizer or give every a few nibbles while waiting for everyone to arrive.

We have over 100 varieties of cheese at Harmons and the cheese monger at each store can help you find the right cheeses for your party.

Some Helpful Tips:

Plan on one ounce of each cheese per person.
Choose five cheeses. An odd number of items is easier to arrange on a cheese board. Five cheeses give enough variety for everyone.
Pick cheeses with different textures, different ages, and different milk types.
Serve your cheese board with a variety of accompaniments: salami, prosciutto, crackers, fig jam, and fresh fruit.
When you make the cheese board, put the cheeses on the board first, then fill in the gaps with salami, fruit, nuts, etc.
Serve the cheese board at room temperature. You can bring it out to room temperature 30-60 minutes before you plan to serve depending on the size of the cheese pieces.
If you have big hunks of cheese on your board, make sure to have a separate knife for each cheese so they flavors don’t get mixed up.

The Cheeses:

A soft cheese:

Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam is a lovely brie-style cheese. It is lush, creamy, buttery, and has a hint of mushroom flavor. It plays well with prosciutto, fresh fruit, all jams, artisan bread, and pretty much anything else you can think of!
Want to try something new for soft cheese this year? Vacherin is here for a limited time!

An aged cheddar:

Beecher’s Flagship Reserve Cheddar is my go-to for aged cheddar this year because everyone loves this flavorful, nutty cheddar. Pair it with the Lucy Glow or Lucy Rose apples (they’re red inside and look amazing on a cheese board) or with Olympia Provisions Saucisson Sec salami.
Want to try something new for aged cheddar this year? Beecher’s also makes a holiday cheese called Yule Kase that is aged in red wine and blackberry honey! Say what? Get it while you can because this is only here for the holiday season.

A goat or sheep cheese:

Add some extra flavor to your cheese board with an excellent goat or sheep milk cheese. Meredith Dairy Marinated Sheep & Goat Cheese is the perfect one to grace your cheese board. It is pillow-soft and marinated in oil, herbs, garlic, and spices. Harmons Artisan Bread is awesome for dipping. If you happen to have leftovers, use it to top grilled chicken, roasted asparagus, or beet salad.
Want to try something new for a goat or sheep cheese this year? Cypress Grove Danger Zone Jalapeno & Herbs fresh goat cheese is just the right consistency for dipping fresh vegetables, pita chips, and Stonefire naan dippers.

A hard cheese:

Beemster XO Gouda is aged 26 months and has crunchy tyrosine crystals in it from this aging that add a great texture to the sweet and nutty cheese. It pairs well with La Quercia Speck Americano (Applewood smoked prosciutto).
Want to try something new for hard cheese this year? Get Sbrinz Alpage AOP! This cheese has been produced in the Alps of Switzerland for centuries and is still made in the same traditional way, so it has been honored with a Presidio Slow Food designation. Sbrinz is only made when the cows are in alpine, summer pasture, so you get all the complex flavor notes of the wild flowers, herbs, and grasses. Sbrinz is delicious with fresh or dried fruit.

 A blue cheese:

Roaring Forties Blue is a must have for your cheese board because it is perfect for the guest who is new to blue cheese and the blue cheese fanatic in the group. Roaring Forties is creamy with a sweet, slightly fruity taste.  It pairs well with Elevation Meats Breakfast Salami, Creminelli Stout Salami, Marcona Almonds, and Nut Brittle.
Want to try something new for blue cheese this year? Rogue Creamery Blue Horn is soaked in a blend of Merlot, Syrah, and Zinfandel which gives this blue added flavor notes of blackberries, currants, and blueberries. Try it with pomegranate arils for a festive holiday pairing.

Here’s the shopping list for a party of eight people:


8 oz Mt Tam or Vacherin cheese

8 oz Flagship Reserve or Yule Kase

1 jar Meredith Dairy Marinated Sheep & Goat Cheese or 2 containers Cypress Grove Danger Zone

8 oz Beemster XO Gouda or Sbrinz

8 oz Roaring Forties Blue or Blue Horn

Charcuterie (meats):

Olympia Provisions Saucisson Sec

La Quercia Speck

Elevation Meats Breakfast Salami

Creminelli Stout Salami


Rustic Bakery Olive Oil & Sel Gris Flatbread

Harmons Artisan Baguette

Marcona Almonds

Lucy Glow or Lucy Rose apple

Holiday Grapes

Mini Bell Peppers

Carrot Sticks

Pomegranate Arils

Dried Figs

Dried Cherries