An authentic Italian cheese board is usually full of local specialities, carefully selected so to offer a wide and balanced range of flavors and textures. There will be different varieties of cheeses paired to honey, fruit jam and fresh fruit so that anyone can experiment and find the cheese and the pairing that they really like.
Here are a few suggestions to help you prepare a good Italian cheese board.
WHAT CHEESES TO CHOOSE?
We suggest you choose at least 5 varieties of cheese, for example:
- 1 fresh cheese
- 1 medium-seasoned cheese
- 1 aged cheese
- 1 blue cheese
- 1 “surprise”
You can choose your selection from one region, or just moving all across Italy, looking for something special. Just use your taste and imagination.
HOW TO “BUILD” THE CHEESE BOARD
The perfect way to arrange the cheeses on the board is to create a sort of “clock”, which will guide you through the tasting. Start with the fresher cheeses – usually the soft ones with a delicate – passing ti the semi-aged, up to the aged ones – usually the hard ones having a stronger taste. Actually, if you follow this order, you will be able to taste alle the flavors of each cheese.
In addition, please remember that every cheese prefers a type of cut suitable for preserving its original taste and shape. Any examples? Parmesan requires flakes, fontina requires triangles, sheep’s cheeses require slices. Then arrange them on the cutting board, eliminating the inedible rind.
Finally, don’t serve cheese directly from the fridge. The too low temperature of the cheeses would contrast with that of the palate which would not allow you to fully enjoy them.
HOW TO PAIR YOUR CHEESE SELECTION
Don’t serve the cheeses alone, but accompany them with bread, “schiacciata” ore bread sticks. Taralli as well can be perfect to accompany your cheese board.
In addition, an Italian cheese board will be usually completed with jams, honey, and some dry or fresh fruit: they will help creating the perfect balance during the tasting. Just try to use bitter jam, such as orange marmalade, with sweet and soft cheeses, while sweet jams are perfect with hard and seasoned cheeses.
As far as the honey is concerned, you can pair it by similarity or contrast of flavors: just remember that the taste of the cheese is enhanced by the one of honey.