I have spent many a get-together stressing over building the perfect cheese board, with proper wine pairings, fruits, and nuts. I’ve made lists, spent way too much on a plethora of fancy cheeses, and cured meats. Then I want a perfect looking tray to display.
Do you know what I have learned? NO ONE ACTUALLY CARES. I take that back; none of my friends or family care to the point that I do. We all like a tasty cheese board, or charcuetrie board, or tray – whatever you call it.
The last two bigger shindigs we hosted at Casa de Crews, I stressed myself to build the perfect cheese board. It was fun at first, but I ended up spending more time than I’d care to admit – and more money than I planned to spend.
This summer, I’ve decided to keep it simple. I was sent a plethora of simple, quality ingredients from the French Ministry of Agriculture – 4 wines, 2 cheeses and 2 salts from different French regions, and thought these goodies were the perfect time for me to simplify my cheese boards.
Have you heard of seasonal cheese boards? That also used to stress me out – can’t I just have a cheese board with what I want? Yes, yes I can. So can you. For summer, I’ve decided to use in-season produce, but not stress over pairings of cheese and wine, with fruit. I think there is absolutely a time and place for that, but most likely your people are like mine, and it’s more about your time together, right?
I am obsessed with watermelon over the summer – it is my favorite fruit! Last summer, I started seeing foodies salt their watermelon, and gave it a shot. It’s really refreshing; sweet and salty, it’s a great combo. It’s not for everyone, so when I slice watermelon for guests over the summer, I just leave a ramekin of sea salt to the side. The French Ministry of Agriculture sent me La Baleine Sea Salt, which just confirmed that salted watermelon for a summer cheese board is a great idea.
I really enjoy trying new cheeses, and introducing friends to new varieties, but I like to stick to basics that I know most everyone will like, and only introduce one or two new, more indulgent cheeses to my board. Blue Cheese is almost always a cheese I make sure to include on a cheese board – Saint Agur’s Blue Cheese is less salty than most blue cheeses, and tastes more creamy. I love to spread it over crackers or sliced baguette. I was reading more about the brand, and region and discovered that Saint Agur’s Blue Cheese was featured on Top Chef (one of my faves!).
I also received a package of St. André brie – my love for brie knows no bounds. It’s buttery, and soft and just a must have on any cheese board I create.
From the French Ministry of Agriculture, I also received two bottles of wine from Georges Duboeuf Wine. Georges Duboeuf is the #1 selling brand of Beaujolais in the world and the world’s highest scoring French wine brand under $20, according to Wine Advocate (2009-2013). That is my kind of price point for entertaining friends, thankyouverymuch. I also received two bottles of wine from Saget La Perriere.
I like to set out fresh fruits, quality cheeses, and a few simple meats. I used to spend way too much on cured fancy meats. Just like with cheese, I like to add one or two nicer meats, but keep the rest simple.
It’s incredibly hot and humid right now in Florida, so I prep extra fruit and meats to keep in the fridge to replenish as we run out. The wine keeps on flowing, and I am less stressed.
If I can pull off a stress-free cheese board this summer for friends, I promise anyone can.