A Simple French Cheeseboard for
Al Fresco and Summer Dining
Now, I know regular readers will be expecting a “Fish on Friday” post today, and indeed I will be posting one a little later or tomorrow, but for now I want to share a simple idea for a summer cheeseboard, a bit if an “Oooh La La” French cheese platter or as my French neighbours would say, “Assiette de Fromages”………and, selecting cheese for a French cheeseboard does not have to involve more than four or five cheeses. Too many cheeses spoils the palate and also confuses the taste-buds. The aim is to offer four (or five) cheeses of differing strengths, textures and from different milk sources too, such as cow’s milk, goat’s milk or sheep’s milk. I always prefer to serve my French cheeseboard with bread rather than the usual British way of crackers, and I always serve it BEFORE the dessert.
There is no recipe as such for my assiette de fromages, rather a set of guidelines which I have listed below, based on the cheeseboard you see in my Photos. I have also shared a home-made artisan bread recipe in this post too, a generic artisan bread recipe that is perfect for baguettes…….for full fromage enjoyment! My most recent cheeseboard was selected carefully to finish of a special meal I cooked for my daughter, who has been staying with us for the last week, before she starts a new job; we enjoyed a plate of “Steak and Chips” (frites) the other evening, with the meal being rounded off with an assortment of cheeses, baguette and then some fresh Breton strawberries…….with wine of course! I selected four cheeses for the three of us - La bûche de chèvre; Bleu d’Auvergne; Camembert (Cru) and a lovely piece of French Alpine Emmental.
French Cheeseboard Serving Ideas and Suggestions:
1.Choose between four and five cheese to enhance the palate and not confuse it.
2. Choose hard, medium and soft cheeses, for different textures.
(For example, I selected Camembert as the soft cheese, Chevre as a soft to medium cheese, Bleu d’Auvergne as a medium cheese and Emmental as the hard cheese.)
3. Try to choose different milk sources, such as cow’s milk cheeses, goat’s milk cheeses and sheep’s milk cheeses.
( My cheeseboard had cow and goat’s milk cheese, and had I picked Roquefort as the blue cheese, I would have had a sheep’s milk cheese on the platter too)
4. Try to include a blue cheese on a cheeseboard; if some of the diners are not keen on strong blue cheese, pick a mild one such as Fourme d’Ambert or Bleu de Chevre, or even a Saint Agur.
5. Always unwrap your cheese and bring it to room temperature for an hour before serving. Store your cheese wrapped in greaseproof paper wherever possible, as cling-film makes it “sweat” as well as being too “wet”to serve. Invest in a cheese cave, an open framework with mesh covers and door, which allows the cheese to “breathe” and “age” (affinage) naturally.
6. If you have to store your cheese in the fridge, unwrap it and keep it in a covered container, rather than in its orginal packing or cling-film. Some cheese come in their own “cave”, these are pierced with holes and allow the cheese to breathe, these cheese are best kept in their original packing.
7. Always serve the cheeseboard before the dessert. This allows you to finish your wine (as served with the main meal) and also serving savoury after sweet is not always that pleasant!
8. Allow about 75g to 100g per person if no dessert is being served, or 50g to 75g if a dessert will follow.
9. Serve fresh fruit and nuts with a cheeseboard, if the cheese is being served as a “dessert” in its own right. Butter can also be served with cheese too. (Fresh figs and walnuts are fabulous with cheese)
10. Bread and assorted crackers are best served with cheese, and the French will often serve a simple green salad with the cheese course as a palate cleanser.
I hope you have enjoyed my Fromage Friday post! I will be back later with usual Fish on Friday post too…….have a fabulous weekend! Karen
French Peppered Steak and Chips
Strawberry and Mint Fruit Salad