Should you have a cheddar and a Cheshire on the cheeseboard? Do certain blues go with certain softs? Are there rules regarding the ratio of cracker varieties to the number of washed-rinds and territorials, and which should be served together? In short, no – the best thing about putting together a cheeseboard is that there are no rules. If you want nothing but soft cheeses, go for it. If you find Stilton too strong, don’t feel pressured to buy one just because it’s Christmas. But if you’re wondering how to make your board look as good as it possibly can, there are one or two guidelines you can follow.
Patrick McGuigan has been judging cheese competitions for years (including our own Great British Cheese Awards), and knows what goes into a good looking cheeseboard. ‘I tend to have around four pieces of cheese (a hard, a blue, a sheep’s milk and a stinky washed-rind) or just one huge one surrounded by an array of condiments,’ he says. ‘It’s tempting to go for lots of different cheeses, but this means buying smaller wedges that’ll end up drying out very quickly.
‘Basically, you’re trying to hit as many textures, flavours, milk types, colours and shapes as you can without having to buy more than four cheeses,’ adds Patrick. ‘Think about shapes and colours – you don’t want all your cheeses to be yellow or white. There are quite a few pyramid-shaped cheeses nowadays that are rolled in ash, which look really good and add height to the board. These are also good because you’re buying the whole cheese, rather than just a slice or wedge, so they have a lot more presence on the table.’