If you’re feeling crafty and want to create your own charcuterie board this holiday season, Stephanie Webster, owner of cheese and wine shops The Rhined and Oakley Wines, shares her tips. Pick up some unique cheeses, grab some good bread, sharpen your knives, and follow these tips!
Never use cubed cheese
The cheesemonger says this loud and clear. “Everyone wants a beautiful board,” says Webster. Make your cheeseboard a memorable display and even a conversation starter by seeking out high-quality cheeses. “If you’re serving the highest quality ingredients you can find, you can’t go wrong,” she says. Still stumped? Head to The Rhined or your preferred cheese shop for suggestions from the pros.
Use a sharp knife
This is true for anyone who enjoys cooking—nothing is worse than a dull knife! Cheese comes in all different textures. Some are brittle and crumbly and others are soft, so having a sharp knife offers the ability to deliver the perfect slice. “For soft cheese, it’s OK to leave whole on the board,” says Webster. “However, you can get small pieces that are easier for guests to enjoy with a sharp knife. If you’re using a dull blade, it’s going to slip and the cheese can be hard to cut.” Make sure your tools are up to the task with a knife sharpener from Chef’s Choice—they offer dozens of the highest quality models available, from hand-held manual versions to fancy electric ones with actual diamond abrasives (they are the hardest natural substance on Earth). This one was recently named the best knife sharpener by America’s Test Kitchen. (And if you use promo code CINCY30, you’ll get 30 percent off and free shipping through the end of 2021.)
It’s all about the accoutrements
Accoutrement is a fancy word for the extras and what’s a charcuterie board without those extras? Webster says sourcing some pretty produce and food as decoration elevates the board’s presentation. Think edible flowers, herb sprigs, pomegranate seeds, dried fruit, nuts, or even veggies you pickled in the summer.
Pick a cheese that’s accessible to everyone
Webster recommends selecting a few different types of cheeses, but choose at least one entry-level cheese. The Rhined offers a cheddar variety from Iowa called Prairie Breeze that Webster says is a good starter. From there, experiment with a stinkier cheese or a soft cheese to vary the look of the board, but most importantly the taste.
The “cheese vehicle” is important
“There’s a bread versus cracker debate in the cheese world,” says Webster. “And I’m somewhere in the middle.” The Rhined serves a true middle-ground option with their cheese boards—crostini. “We have such amazing bakeries here in Cincinnati, bread is always great.” Webster suggests crackers for soft cheeses. For hard cheese, she says, “a baguette slice is ideal to balance the different textures.”