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Building #ThatCheesePlate into a Grotto

When I designed the Grotto, I set an intention to make the cheese humidor as multi-functional as possible.  This is why I designed the cheese boards with a slide function: the shelves can slide out partially for entertaining purposes, and can be removed completely for your dining table cheese board.  

Cheese boards and cheese plates are quite the sensation on social media.  There doesn't seem to be anything as satisfying as a visually compelling cheese board. For proof, check out @thatcheeseplate or @cheesemongrrl on Instagram.  The cheese board is a symbol of bounty and indulgence. Someone with a colorful cheese spread at their table is someone who made the right decisions in their life.

I wanted to share one creative way to build #thatcheeseplate right into the Grotto. The nice thing about doing this is that if under the rare circumstance you don't devour your creation in one sitting, you can slide the shelves right back in, shut the Grotto door, and save for later. 

cheese plate pairing tips

I featured all Cowgirl Creamery Cheeses in the two boards, as part of our collaboration through the month of April.

Here are my rules of thumb when building a cheese board:

1.  First write out the characteristic of each cheese being plated.  In this case:

  • Devil's Gulch, a bloomy rind cow milk cheese speckled with crushed hot peppers. This cheese is meaty, mushroom-y, and spicy.  It is thick and rich in texture.  
  • Red Hawk, a washed rind triple cream cow milk cheese is robust, smokey, and nutty.  It is also thick and rich in texture.
  • Wagon Wheel, a semi-firm cow milk cheese is light-bodied and creamy, subtle hint  of almonds and walnuts in the flavor. 

2. When choosing flavors and textures for a cheese board, think about a balance of complimentary and contrasting flavors.

  • Devil's Gulch: The thinly sliced carrots serve as a palate cleanser, the dried cranberry provides a sweet, tart acidity that cuts through the cheeses richness, the seed crackers give a contrasting dense nutty texture as a vehicle for the cheese, and the prosciutto rosettes accentuate the meatiness of the cheese.
  • Red Hawk: The dark chocolate accentuates the nutty, smoky notes of the cheese. The blueberries and strawberries' fresh flavor counter the richness of the cheese.  The sesame brittle balances out the extremely savory notes of the Red Hawk.
  • Wagon Wheel: This cheese is the most subtle on the board, so the fresh fruit, prosciutto, raw almonds, and sesame brittle are some of the best pairings to bring out the cheese's natural character.

3.  Think COLOR contrast as well as TEXTURAL.  It is important to be playful with your cheese board, as there are no hard and fast rules.  The main rule: eat more cheese, become more familiar with styles, and the nuance of each style will become more apparent for pairing opportunities.

4. Balance savory and sweet characteristics.  I chose not to incorporate extremely brine-y, pickled things such as olives and cornichons because I chose fresh fruit and chocolate instead.  In my opinion, pickles and chocolate are not that tasty together, and I like to make the full sweep on my cheese boards, and leave no cheese pairing unturned.

What's YOUR favorite pairing?  Feel free to share in the comments below. xo.

how to pair cheese

beautiful cheese board tips

Photography and Videography by Jess Hitt

How to build a two-tiered cheese board


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