How to Make a French Cheese Board
Charcutewreaths, charcuterie chalets, and other fun variations of grazing platters are very trendy this year, but do you know how to make a French cheese board? Do you know how to make the classic staple that started this whole craze?
Like most things in this world, the French do cheese right. The key to creating the perfect French cheese board is balance, and of course, the right wine to drink with it.
In France, cheese plates are typically served at the end of the meal before the dessert course, as we mentioned in our blog post about the French tradition of a 6-hour long Christmas Eve feast. There are many “rules” in France when it comes to serving and eating cheese courses. somMailier is all about bringing the French experience to your home, so this is a more simplified guide for how to make a French cheese board.
Step One: Le Fromage
The first step in creating your cheese platter is obviously choosing the cheeses that you want. This helps you determine what other accents and fillers you want to add later.
Three to five cheeses are typically recommended for a platter. Not only does this keep your plate from being bland, it helps to make sure that everyone who you are enjoying the grazing platter with will be able to find something they enjoy.
You want different textures and flavors to give your cheese board some variety. When it comes to textures, try to pick one of each of the following: hard, soft, semi-hard, and semi-soft. With flavors, find a mix of mild and strong flavors.
Below are some cheese suggestions with wines that we recommend pairing them with:
Step Two: Le Pain
After picking out your delicious assortment of cheese, you need an edible utensil: carbs. A tasty baguette is perfect for layering your softer cheeses on top. Then, you will also want a sort of cracker to scoop and stack with.
Are you familiar with the French expression “Long comme un jour sans pain”? This saying literally translates to “as long as a day without bread” and means a very long, boring day. So, while you can always opt for a low-carb cracker option, we must warn you that your cheese platter might be a little bit boring if you go sans pain.
Step Three: Les Accompagnements
After selecting your cheeses and breads, it is time to pick out what extras you want to fill in your French cheese board with. A general guide for this is to pick out something savory, something sweet, and something crunchy. You can also add charcuterie (this is the French word for cold cuts, not the overall platter as Americans tend to refer to it as) to the board.
For example, in this cheese board, we added olives as something savory and salty. The apple slices are crunchy and refreshing and pair particularly well with the Brie cheese on the plate. The grapes add pops of juicy sweetness while the fig jam provides a spreadable sweetness that was delicious with the goat cheese and the brie. We also used fresh rosemary sprigs from our indoor garden to add more color and filling to the cheese platter.
Other sweet options that you can add to your board include honey, different kinds of jam, seasonal berries, or dried fruit like apricots. A handful of nuts is also a great way to add some salty crunch to the plate.
Once you have all of your ingredients ready, you are finally ready to start assembling your French cheese board.
Step Four: Mettre Tous Ensemble
Now that you have a balance of flavors and textures for your board, you also want to create balance visually.
First, place the cheese on the board. Think about what will be the easiest way for people to get eat the different types of cheese. For harder cheeses, you can slice or cube the cheese. Add to the aesthetic appeal of the board by crumbling some of the crumblier cheeses, such as blue cheese. Be sure to add a utensil for scooping creamier cheese.
Next, fill in the board with your bread and accompaniments. For honey or jam, you can use different small bowls but be sure to remember the utensils. Fruit, nuts, and other extras can either be scattered on the board or some can be placed in containers as well.
Finally, move in with your fillers. Fresh or dried rosemary is an easy way to add a pop of color and texture. In the spring, you can opt for edible flowers, but always be sure that the flowers are indeed edible since you are serving them with food. Chamomile, pansies, and flowering herbs are excellent options.
Now, after all your work putting together the perfect cheese board, it is time to enjoy!
If you make a French cheese board and pair it with wine from our club shipments or wine cellar, be sure to take a picture and tag @sommailierwineclub on Instagram or somMailier on Facebook! We look forward to seeing your creations!
(P.S. This is the perfect guide if you are making a cheese platter for the holidays!)
Want to learn more about French wine? We’re here to help! Why not check out our French wine club? Every three months we send direct to your door three or six bottles of boutique French wines which have been carefully selected by wine experts in France along with detailed information about each wine and food pairing ideas to help you really discover French wine. And as if that wasn’t enough, we also have a wine club gift option for that special wine lover in your life!