What this is: Understanding when pretty can go wrong.
Who it’s for: The host who likes every bite to be amazing.
|Note: We never like to limit creativity, but there are a few things we think fall on the strongly Do Not Recommend list. This is one of those items. We encourage you to read with an open mind and consider our suggestions wisely, though ultimately you must make your own decision.|
We can’t fault social media for all the wrongs of cheese and charcuterie board making, but there are a few instances where we see egregious errors in board building judgement, and we just can’t stand on the sidelines when we know we can help. This isn’t just a case where the cheeses and the pairings don’t go well together. While that does mean the cheese board will be less-than-optimal, we have an easy place to point to so that people can better understand how to make their boards really sing: Pairing Lessons. That’s an easy fix, really.
No, what really compelled us to dedicate a lesson to this topic is when we see items being added to boards for aesthetic considerations only, rather than for taste. As a company that is on a mission to deliver cheese boards that are both delicious and beautiful, we may be a little too invested in this topic, but the two biggest faults we find here are:
- Adding an item that ruins the taste of another food item.
- Adding something for color that ruins the quality of another item.
Let us give you some specifics, focusing on olives and orange slices.
First of all, let us say that we love olives, and there’s a reason that olives and cheese are a classic pairing: they work together. The problem is when olives, which are a strong force on a cheese board, take over and ruin other parts of the cheese board, like when they are placed directly on top of cookies, thus leaking their olive juice into said cookies. For example: we can only imagine what the cheese board maker had in mind when they put a handful of juicy briny olives on top of the much beloved maple sandwich cookies from Trader Joe’s. We understand the desire for that pop of green, but at best this means that two of your pairings don’t go well at all together, and at worst it means the olive actually ruins the cookies. Choose olives, or cookies, but for the love of cheese, don’t put them on top of each other.
We get it, a big orange slice is beautiful, and it reminds us of sunshine and warm beach holidays, but that doesn’t mean it belongs on a cheese board. There are three main problems with putting orange slices on your cheese board. 1) It’s hard for guests to eat discreetly (this isn’t half time at a kids soccer game), 2) it doesn’t pair well with anything on the board and 3) above all, it’s wet and you put it on top of cheese. Blasphemy! Your beautiful cheese will become slimy from the juicy orange, thus making people not want to eat it and wasting these precious lactic gifts.SUMMARY
Think twice about what you are adding to your board. Make sure it has a purpose, it’s placement won’t make anything taste bad, and it’s moisture content won’t make anything soggy or slimy.
You be the judge, Scour the internet for beautiful boards breaking this rule or putting pretty before practical. Decide how you would fix the error in cheese board judgement. Culprits to look for are olives on sweets, meat on desserts, oranges and wet items on cheese. Can you find any other things you would avoid?
Click the icons to download a pdf of this lesson and our two handy guides: How Cheese is Made and Cheese and Pairing Types.