There’s a fine art to a flawless cheeseboard, but once you’ve mastered it you can sit back and let the air of cheese-induced contentment fill your pub.
11 steps to a perfect cheeseboard
1. Don’t serve cheese straight from the fridge
Cold cheese is a cardinal sin. Get your cheeses out of the fridge at least half-an-hour before you serve them so they can warm to room temperature. This will make sure the flavours and textures are optimum by the time the board gets to the customer.
2. And don’t store your cheese in cling film
Another way you could be ruining your precious cheese. Storing cheese in cling film taints the flavour of the product, which makes mice cry. Instead, use wax or greaseproof paper and store them in a box in a cool place.
3. Source British
Pair up with local producers to impress regulars and tourists. People love local provenance. You wouldn’t want to eat a Wensleydale if you went to the Brie region of Meaux, unless you’re Wallace & Grommit. So be proud of your surroundings and stock up. (British cheesemakers can also offer exceptional European-style cheeses).
4. Not a big wine pub? Pair it with beers
Wine and cheese are like Will and Kate – a classic coupling. But beer and cheese are Harry and Meghan Markle. A killer combination you don’t initially think of. Pair nutty cheeses with stouts, smooth cheeses with hoppy beers and pungent or blue cheeses with bitters. Or encourage your customers to experiment with pairings themselves – they could even try whisky, sherry or cider. For tips on beer and food matching, watch this.
5. Present it properly
People buy with their eyes, so while slates are a profanity to some people, piling your cheese onto a plate simply won’t cut it this time. Invest in some fancy-looking tableware, pots or jars for chutneys and baskets for bread.
6. Serve a selection
Don’t serve large chunks of tasteless, boring cheese. Instead, include smaller samples of exciting varieties. People who order cheese boards are often big cheese fans who are not afraid of a bit of blue. They want to be impressed, so ramp up your selection and don’t skimp on the condiments.
Photography by Sarah Maingot for Harvey & Brockless
7. Ask for something bespoke
You’ve got your own specially brewed beer, but nacho own cheese? Cheesemakers are happy to strike a deal and craft a product which is exclusive to your pub. The clever devils can even incorporate beer into the recipe, so if you’ve got your own brew you can match it with a cheese.
8. Let customers build their own
Having one set cheeseboard is fine, but if you want to really push the boat out, let customers choose their own combination. Show customers a list of all your cheese and price up three combination boards, offering different amounts of cheese. Customers could pick, for example, five of their favourite cheeses, combined with two chutneys or meats.
9. Incorporate the cheese into your menu
One way to encourage people to sample your cheese without having to buy the cheeseboard first, is to link it with your menu. Try creating some pastas, salads or even toasties, so customers can get a taste. You could also offer it as a topping on burgers for an extra £1 instead of a normal cheese slice.
10. Don’t be stingy with the extras
While the most hardcore cheese disciples might be happy with a simple plate of curds, most people want crackers, breads and pickles to accompany it. If you’ve gone to the effort of stocking great-quality cheese, then don’t ruin it with a crummy cracker. Find local chutneys or honey and react to seasonal produce that pairs well, such as figs, cherries or hazelnuts. Why not also link up with a local baker for your breads and crackers? The possibilities are endless.
11. Find a good supplier
If you want to offer a real range of cheeses, try an artisan supplier. These sorts of wholesalers will advise and help you pick products, plus they deliver all over the UK. This means you can order all your stock from one place.
These tips come with thanks to:
The Marble Arch, Manchester (for our video about these guys, who have a cheese menu of 22 items, click the link.)