Katie Palmer has a dreamy job of tasting, recommending, styling, and learning about cheese for a living as a certified cheese professional. She knows just how to whip up a fancy cheese board—a trait that we could all use during the holidays. Lucky for us, Palmer shared her best secrets to developing a masterpiece to host smaller gatherings this year. Use these helpful tips to elevate your cheese boards this season with some of Murray’s Cheese tastiest offerings, all of which you can find at your local Kroger grocery store.
Consider the Size of Your Party
If you’re hosting smaller gatherings (one to four people) Palmer says three types cheese is plenty, and for larger gatherings, choose five to seven varieties. “Like decorating, I always recommend that people choose an odd number of cheeses,” Palmer says. “Find a good balance [to make it] visually interesting.”
Choose Your Cheeses Intentionally
If you’re hosting a small or immediate family gathering, know your audience and what they like. Palmer recommends a washed rind, a goat cheese, and a cheddar to hit all of the possible interests. Palmer’s favorite is a stinky cheese: “You may not like how they smell, but you love how they taste.” She suggests gruyere or Willoughby as good, stinky options. But don’t select the exact cheeses you know your family will like. If you know they like goat cheese—opt for an herbed option. If they like cheddar, spice it up with an infused choice. Mixing it up will help you discover new favorites. If you need help making selections, ask the Murray’s Cheese associate at your local Kroger for suggestions.
Color Variety is Key
Obviously taste is most important, but making a splash on the snack table is too. An often missed opportunity to elevate your board is with color. “It’s kind of like making a flower bouquet,” Palmer says. “The more color in a bouquet of flowers, the better.” Pick a goat cheese with cinnamon and orange, a washed rind that’s more yellow, and a white cheddar. Sprinkle in some fresh or dried fruit—grapes are always popular—and add some seasonal fruits like pomegranate seeds or figs.
Spice It Up with Special Holiday Cheeses
Pumpkin spice isn’t just for your coffee cup—the trend has spilled into the cheese world, too. Mild options include a pumpkin spice fontina or a pumpkin seed gouda with bits of pumpkin and seeds. Another popular theme this year is booze-infused varieties like the bourbon-washed cheese called Pour-me-a-Slice, champagne cheddar, Wensleydale with apricot and amaretto, and an IPA-infused cheddar that Palmer says is her husband’s favorite.
It’s All in the Fixings
Who doesn’t love a good pickle or artisan jam? Spread some on a cracker with a slice of cheese and you have a holiday hors d’oeuvre dream. Add charcuterie like speck or prosciutto, meats that Palmer says works with any cheeses. Or top your cracker with an apple butter that pairs well with cheddar or blueberry lemon preserves to compliment a goat cheese. Sprinkle in some cornichon pickles to make the perfect sweet-and-salty bite.