For a conversation piece that’s both beautiful and delicious, build an at-home cheese bar for your next get-together.
A cheese bar is as simple as building multiple cheese boards together into one larger display. The best part? You can make it whatever you want it to be: a seasonally-inspired display, or a simple, classic arrangement with flowers and edible pairings; you can upsize it, or keep it to a few pieces depending on the crowd; you can even coordinate sweet pairings for a dessert board, or go all savory for a pre-dinner crowd.
The key is to make your cheese bar your own. No matter what you choose, your guests will have something to talk about for weeks to come.
Step 1: Pick the theme
For a festive fall feel, use rich wood cheese boards and cake tiers, mixed among seasonal fruits, vegetables, squashes and flowers. For a holiday bar, use pine, cranberries, hanging lights or paper snowflakes.
Step 2: Consider the occasion
The occasion and guest count should determine the size and design of your bar. For instance, a cocktail party could handle a larger cheese bar, while a dinner party should have a smaller bar so that guests don’t fill up on cheese before the main course.
Step 3: Choose the cheeses
To flatter all taste buds, choose a variety of cheeses and let each be the star of its own platter. A mountain of Castello Aged Havarti is always a crowd-pleaser. Whichever cheese you choose, be sure to fill each platter with enough cheese for your guests. Here’s a helpful guide to determine how much cheese to serve.
Step 4: Choose your pairings
The types of cheese determine the pairings needed. Honeycomb, walnuts and green olives pair well with Castello Traditional Blue, while fresh pears, pâté and pepper jam pair well with Castello Double Crème White.
Classic pairings play well with any cheese, like sliced baguettes, artisan crackers, dried fruits such as apricots and cranberries, freshly sliced tart and sweet apples, grapes and salty nuts like hazelnuts or marcona almonds. For more perfect pairing ideas, click here.
Step 5: Start with serving ware
The idea is to make your bar, however large, look plentiful. Layer cake tiers to add height and use serving plates and bowls in varying sizes to fill the horizontal space.
Step 6: Add the cheese
This is the fun part! Begin like you would a regular cheese board – with the cheese. Crumble, slice or chunk your cheese based on the texture. This will ensure your guests aren’t afraid to grab a piece or slice their own. For more information on the best way to cut cheese, click here.
Step 7: Fill in with pairings
Fill the remaining space on the board with aromatic, seasonal herbs like rosemary, thyme and sage, along with pairings based on the type of cheese. Instead of spreading out each piece of salami or dried fruit, stack the pieces high to make the space look full. Add a board just for crackers and bread to take a visual break from the cheese.
Step 8: Fill any open counter space
Now that the boards are full, fill in counter space with smaller bowls of jams, olives, tapenade, nuts and dried fruit. It can be fun to mix and match your serving bowls, just make sure to always include serving utensils! Whole seasonal fruits and vegetables, as well as short flower displays and candles, can add color and dimension to the bar without feeling overly put-together. There’s no right or wrong way to fill up your cheese bar!
Step 9: Get creative
Remember to make the cheese bar your own! Add in your own creative touches, be it a colorful tablecloth, hanging lights or a decorative candelabra. The key to a successful cheese bar is creativity, perfect pairings and, as always, cheese as the star of the show.
Step 10: Enjoy!