How to make the Perfect Italian Cheese Board
Usually, Italian cheese boards will be full of local specialities. There will be all kinds of cheeses, but with well-balanced textures and flavours, so that everyone can find a cheese they like.
Here are a few suggestions to make a good impression at a party with your homemade cheese board.
WHAT CHEESES TO CHOOSE?
For an Italian cheese board to be complete, there should be at least a tasting of 5 kinds of cheese.
With at least…
- 1 blue cheese
- 1 fresh cheese (like “Fresa” – Traditional Cow’s Milk Cheese)
- 2 medium-aged cheeses (like “Lunera” – Semi-aged goat’s cheese)
- 1 aged cheese (like Bra Duro)
The best suggestion would be to find cheeses locally to make it even more special for your guests, but if it is difficult, no problem! Cheeses from different regions also make for a wide variety to choose from… your friends will definitely be impressed!
COMPOSITION OF THE CHEESEBOARD
The best way to present the composition of your Italian cheese board is like a clock: arrange the cheeses in order, from the most delicate to the most savoury so as not to overwhelm the palate. Arrange them in a circular way, normally the most intense cheeses are blue cheeses, and always suggest what to start with.
Provide different types of knives to use for the different cheeses (each will be cut differently) and make sure to remove non-edible crusts beforehand.
Also, a bonus suggestion: try and take the cheeses out of the refrigerator about one hour before you plan to serve them, this way you can take your time to arrange the order of the cheeses and by the time you will serve them they will already be at the best temperature to be eaten.
An Italian cheese board will usually be completed with jams, honey, and some dry fruit like nuts. Cheese is a sugar-free food, so it finds its complementary food in jams and kinds of honey, creating the perfect balance in taste. However, here too it is necessary to make some clarifications.
Sweet and creamy cheeses will go well with jams with a sour taste like Bitter Orange Marmalade, while if, on the other hand, the cheese is hard and seasoned, then it will be better to combine it with sweet compotes like the blueberry compote.
As for honey, the combination can be done both by similarity and by the contrast of flavours, the important thing is that they enhance each other instead of covering the others’ taste. For this reason, it is good to choose it based on the seasoning of the cheese, so that it can accompany it without overpowering it.
For example, chestnut honey, which is quite strong in flavour, is well matched with hard and aged cow’s milk cheeses.
Our suggestion, given that on the cheese board there will be more than one type of cheese is to provide small different samples of marmalade and honey so that each cheese will have at least one match.
HOW TO PAIR WINE AND CHEESE
The cheeses on the charcuterie board will usually be for an aperitivo.
A balance must be sought, which can be by contrast or harmony. Key elements of this harmony are alcohol and fats, acidity and effervescence which must find a balance with the salty and fat part of the cheese.
The general rule is:
- Fresh & delicate cheeses: dry white wines.
- Cheeses with medium aromatic intensity: white or red wines of medium structure.
- Aged & tasty cheeses: aged red wines.
- Blue cheeses with high aromatic intensity: fortified wines.