Cheeseboards are one of the best things about holiday parties and they don’t have to be difficult to make! Impress your guests by putting together an easy, simple yet show stopping holiday cheeseboard – that has the perfect cocktail to go with it!
How to Make a Cheeseboard
This holiday season I have partnered with Castello Cheese to try out some of their products and build a holiday cheeseboard inspired by their cheeses. Castello Cheese has created a variety of creatively crafted cheeses for over 100 years, so there are a lot to choose from! I really wanted to think outside the box when it came to this cheeseboard and not include all the usual accompaniments that we are all too familiar with. That line of thinking led to pondering what I personally would serve at a holiday party, and of course, with Mr. Magpie being known for his cocktail skills, I immediately thought ” Why not make a cheeseboard that has a matching cocktail to serve to all of your guests?”
This cheeseboard was built around our favourite types of cheese: sharp, tangy, flavourful cheese that have robust flavour. With the choices I made, a fruity cocktail with some herbal notes was the perfect match, so we are going to make a Pomegranate Gin and Tonic to go along with it.
Now, onto what you need to build a cheeseboard! Having different taste profiles on the board to accommodate people’s preferences and to build a flavour balanced cheeseboard is very important.
Cheeses To Feature on Your Cheeseboard
1) A Creamy, Soft Cheese
I chose the Castello Extra Creamy Danish Blue Cheese for my creamy cheese. Blue cheese aficionados love it for its salty, sharp and sour notes, which make blue cheese the perfect pairing for a drink that has a sweeter note in it, like the pomegranate juice in the gin and tonic. This blue cheese is ultra-creamy, making it perfect for spreading on crackers and pairing it with jams or fruit. Try this with the crackers on the cheeseboard, and then top with a dried cherry or two. It’s a spectacular taste combination. Very bold and strong flavour.
2) A Semi-Hard Cheese
I chose the Castello Fontina for my semi-hard cheese which also covers the need for a milder, slightly earthier flavoured cheese on the cheeseboard to balance out the ultra-creamy and full bodied flavour of the blue cheese. This fontina isn’t as creamy as the blue cheese but is still luscious, it’s somewhere between a hard cheese and a creamy soft one. This cheese will pair nicely with the prosciutto on the cheeseboard as the milder taste compliments instead of overpowering the salty, savoury taste of the prosciutto. Mild, slightly nutty flavour.
3) A Cheese with Crystals ( a crystalline texture)
Bar none, this is by far our favourite type of cheese to nibble on, so I chose Castello Aged Havarti for the cheeseboard as well. Cheese crystals are a completely natural part of the cheese aging process and are considered a very good thing when it comes to a quality aged cheese. When you see those crystals (little white spots in the middle of the actual cheese, not the rind) you can trust that you are eating a nicely aged cheese.
On a side note, this is a perfect cheese to pair with a glass of red wine, which is how we often enjoy it. This Havarti is smooth and soft with the crystals breaking up the texture perfectly. Pair this with the fig jam spread on a cracker, then place this on top! Medium flavour strength with a lingering sharp finish.
4) A Cheddar Cheese
Everyone loves a good cheddar cheese! Make sure to have a cheddar on your cheeseboard for the less adventurous eaters in the group. Since Mike and I were going for a mainly sharper tasting cheeseboard paired with fruity sweetness, I opted to include Castello Tickler Extra Mature Cheddar Cheese. This cheese is aged for 18 months and is slightly sharper and bolder tasting than the Havarti. This delicately matured cheddar crumbles more easily than the others on the board, making it perfect to crumble on top of the fig jam on crackers. Medium bordering on bold flavour strength with smooth texture that crumbles when you bite into it.
Other Foods/Items to Include on your Cheeseboard
Since we went with sharper cheeses, you want to stay away from matching overpowering flavours that aren’t going to let the cheese shine. I wanted to do a fruit-based cheeseboard with simple ingredients that don’t outshine the cheese choices but instead highlight their flavours. On this cheeseboard we have:
- Dried cherries, which are excellent paired with every cheese on the board. Not only that, they are available year-round and a delightful treat in the winter months.
- Prosciutto – Also known as Parma Ham, this is a favourite meat to feature on cheeseboards.
- Date and Walnut Crackers – The flavours of these crackers match the cheeses perfectly, and it’s a common combination that you can easily find. The date portion is more important than the walnut, look for any sweeter, nuttier crackers to compliment these cheeses.
- Fig Jam/Spread – This goes well with all the cheese on the board and I like it the best
- Sliced Pomegranates – This adds a bold holiday colour to the cheeseboard and guests will love eating the red seed arils.
- Food Picks- Hygiene! Remember that you need to give your guests something to pick up the food with other than their hands. Mini foods picks/forks are cute, inexpensive and keep your cheeseboard clean.
- Cheese Knives – These help your guests slice the cheese easily.
- Rosemary Sprigs – Not only does it add a pop of evergreen colour to the cheeseboard, it imparts a wonderful scent that adds to it as well. You could also use little pine bits.
The Pomegranate Gin Fizz
Having one alcoholic drink to make at a party makes your life easier as a host. The beauty of this cocktail is that the ingredients lend themselves to mocktails as well for non-indulging guests- they can have plain pomegranate juice, club soda or even a combination of both. The flavours in this gin-based drink match the sharp flavours of this cheeseboard impeccably. You can prepare this drink ahead of time and have it ready to go to serve to guests. It’s party perfect!
Click the bold letters to print the POMEGRANATE GIN FIZZ recipe!
And there you have how to make this holiday cheeseboard! You will notice that I didn’t use olives, pickles or any strong flavoured foods on the board with the cheese I chose, and that’s again because the cheese that I wanted are sharp, boldly flavoured cheese that stand well on their own. The foods that accompany your cheese need to match and the subtle fruit flavours on this cheeseboard match perfectly.
Happy Holidays and enjoy your holiday party this year with a simple and delicious cheeseboard, your guests will thank you! Your cheeseboard awaits at castellocheese.com
Want to win a Castello prize pack of your own? Take this Holiday Hostess Quiz to find out what cheeseboard is right for you. http://bit.ly/2Q1UHTq
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