A great cheese board is a harmony of textures and flavors, and though I have added expertise from my years as a cheesemonger at the legendary Murray’s in N.Y.C. (murrayscheese.com), any layperson can navigate the offerings at their local shop—just follow some simple guidelines.
Choose three, five, or seven different cheeses (odd numbers are more visually appealing) and buy between half an ounce and one ounce per person, depending on how hungry your guests will be. Each type of milk (sheep, goat, and cow) should be represented on your board, and choose varying textures to keep things interesting.
Remove your cheese from the fridge about an hour before serving—it should be eaten at room temperature—and serve it with crackers or hunks of sturdy bread. Honey, dried cherries, or dried apricots are great additions, but balance these sweet elements with salted walnuts or Marcona almonds. Choose cheeses of contrasting textures from any of the six categories in the photo below, and get to munching.
12" x 18" Cheeseboard, $44, brooklynslate.com
Cheese Knives, $29, westelm.com
Try Cashel Blue (cow), Roquefort (sheep), or Pure Luck Hopelessly Bleu (goat)
Washed-Rind, Stinky Cheese
Try Meadow Creek Grayson (cow), Jasper Hill Winnimere (cow), or Gubbeen (cow)
Try Garrotxa (goat), Ossau Iraty (sheep), or Spring Brook Tarentaise (cow)
Try La Tur (blend), Nettle Meadow Kunik (goat/cow), or Brillat-Savarin (cow)
Try Zimbro (sheep), La Serena (sheep), or Twig Farm Goat Tomme (goat)
Try Boerenkaas (cow), Bleu Mont Dairy Bandaged Cheddar (cow), or Pecorino Ginepro (sheep)
Tip: Try following a theme like French cheeses, American farmstead cheeses, or Spanish cheeses!