Wow your guests with a cheese-and-charcuterie board that requires minimal effort—but delivers big on personality.
Building your cheese platter:
Who says you can't please everybody? It's as simple as putting a variety of textures and tastes on your platter, ranging from sharp firm cheeses to aromatic soft types. For extra variety, choose from different milks, such as cow, goat and sheep. Here are our picks to please every palate and every budget.
Soft cheeses have a smooth texture and a creamy flavour. Because of their consistency, these varieties are best served with crackers or baguette.
$: Soft goat cheese log (a.k.a. chèvre) or feta
$$$: Artisanal soft goat cheese (look for ash-covered varieties, such as Grey Owl or Le Cendrillon)
Semisoft cheeses often have bloomy edible rinds and creamy interiors. Their flavours range from strong and nutty (Oka) to mild and buttery (Brie).
$: Double-cream Brie, Camembert, Boursin, Oka or bocconcini
$$$: Morbier or triple-cream bloomy-rind varieties (such as Laliberté, Chateau de Bourgogne or Saint-André)
Firm or hard cheeses are often sharper in flavour because of their longer aging process. Have a sharp knife or a cheese slicer on hand so guests can cut thin slices off the wedge or brick as they wish (precutting may result in oil droplets rising to the surface of the cheese).
$: Canadian extra-old Cheddar or mild Gouda
$$$: Applewood smoked or clothbound Cheddar, Mimolette, Parmigiano-Reggiano or aged Gouda
Blue cheeses are injected with moulds to give them their distinctive blue veins and tangy flavour. The pungency differs by variety: Roquefort is notoriously strong, while Danish blue and Cambozola tend to be milder.
$: Gorgonzola or Danish blue
$$$: Roquefort, Stilton, Cambozola, Shropshire Blue or Bleu Bénédictin
Building your charcuterie board:
Select a mix of delicate cured cuts of meats such as bresaola (air-dried beef tenderloin) and prosciutto, and firm cured sausages such as salami or dry-cured sausage. For instant variety and texture, add a smooth store-bought pâté or terrine.
$: Italian salamis (such as Calabrese sausage or soppressata), Spanish-style chorizo sausage, mini smoked sausages, or pork- or chicken-liver pâté
$$$: Jamón ibérico or serrano ham, prosciutto, bresaola, capocollo, or duck-
or goose-liver pâté or mousse
Source: Canadian Living Magazine: November 2015