A cheeseboard is like a blank canvas, waiting to be transformed, with a selection of whatever delicious things strike your fancy. You can never go wrong by adding fruit, olives, crackers, and nuts to a cheeseboard. They are classic choices to complement a variety of cheeses, but we suggest pushing the boundaries to surprise and delight your guests. Instead of just sticking with the tried and true, we’re interested in breaking whatever perceived rules there might be when it comes to pairing to find some delicious new combinations. Recently we looked at condiments to go with cheese, today we share the flavored chips and nuts, chocolate, candy and even seafood are that some of our latest favorite finds.
The key to creating successful boards really is determining which flavors and textures are pleasing together. Consider a wide range of salty, sweet, creamy, and crumbly cheeses to find some tempting pairings. Don’t shy away from flavored cheeses or snacks. They can complement or contrast with your cheese selections.
Small Town Cultures Sliced Red Onions are raw fermented onions that add crunch and a mild tang but not a sharp bite. They accentuate the brightness in a bold, or tangy cheese. They are great on a salad or a sandwich, but go ahead and add them to a board alongside Feta, fresh goat cheese, or queso fresco.
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FLAVORED VEGETABLE CHIPS
Confetti makes a range of tasty crunchy dehydrated vegetable snacks, both chips and mushrooms. The mushrooms are available in black truffle and green curry. Cheeses like Marin French Triple Crème Brie and Camembert which have a mushroom flavor are particularly good with these snacks. The flavors of the vegetable chips—teriyaki bbq, sea salt and even tandoori curry are mild enough to not clash with strong flavored cheeses. They also add a welcome pop of color to cheeseboards. Try them with mildly sweet cheese like Prairie Breeze or the sweet salty Beehive Seahive with salt and honey.
Turron is a nougat typically made of honey, sugar, and egg white, with toasted almonds or other nuts. Forever Cheese offers a softer and a harder version of Spanish turrón. While sweet, Forever Cheese founder Michele Buster told me she doesn’t consider it candy. Turrón Blando Mitica is soft, sweet and nutty and pairs beautifully with Carr Valley Glacier Point Blue. Turrón Duro Mitica is a beguiling crunchy nougat, that works well with an aged Manchego.
Many people believe that cheese and seafood don’t go together. They are wrong. As anyone who has ever enjoyed a tuna melt knows, seafood and cheese do sometimes go swimmingly well together. We love tinned seafood and suggest you use it in place of charcuterie on a board for pescatarians. Spanish brand Siesta tinned seafood offers mussels, tuna, mackerel, squid, and sardines. The funky flavor of these preserves is surprisingly good with strong flavored alpine cheeses like Gruyere. Open a can of the sardines and see how versatile they are with cheeses such as umami rich Parmigiano Reggiano and lactic queso fresco, then try the squid with PDO Feta.
SWEET GRAHAM CRACKERS
A’Cappella brand recently launched a line of pretzel shaped graham cracker snacks in flavors like cookies and cream, dark chocolate, and peanut butter. These crunchy cookies are just right to pair with sweet cheeses like Laura Chenel’s Cranberry Goat Cheese which has just a hint of cinnamon. The pairing brings out the tanginess of the chevre. Try a variety of them on a cheeseboard with a dessert theme. They are also good with rich gooey cheeses and opposite an intense blue cheese.
Santé makes a range of flavored almonds, pecans, and walnuts. All of the flavors we’ve tried have been irresistible. The cocoa almonds make a striking addition to a cheeseboard. The bourbon pecans are particularly good with aged gouda, which has similar nutty, toasty and caramel notes. The candied flavors have a hint of salt which helps them pair well with cheese.
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