It’s fig season in California (woohoo!) and I’ve got a slight obsession with them (see last year’s flatbread pizza and fig cocktail recipes here) so I scooped up a basket of brown turkey figs while prepping for our 4th of July celebrations last weekend. We were keeping things easy for the holiday this year so instead of creating some full-blown concoction, I decided to use them for the base of a casual cheese board since I was still in need of a quick appetizer.
I’m kind of in love with cheese and charcuterie boards and create them all of the time for work and almost anytime we host or need to bring a dish to pass. There is nothing more “wine country” to me than a well curated board so they’re one of my favorite low-stress options for guests or just a casual night at home in Napa with the two of us. That being said, there are a few rules of thumb when it comes to crafting a cheese board that I always follow no matter how many people I’m prepping for. Here is what you’ll need:
- Something sweet // honey for drizzling or a great jam meant to be paired with cheese
- Something salty // nuts – I like Whole Foods’ truffled Marcona almonds with sea salt
- Something briny // Castelvetrano olives or pickles
- Something seasonal // Figs! Artichokes are also a favorite
- At least one type of cracker or bread // use whatever you have on hand, but try to go for something plain that won’t interfere with other flavors on your board
- A hard cheese and a soft cheese // Vermont aged white cheddar and a goat cheese or fresh burrata are always great options
Lastly, you’ll need a cheese board and some ramekins or small bowls for olives, olive pits, pickles, etc. I used a vintage cheese board I picked up at the flea market this time around, but a few of my favorite store-bought options are below. I also broke my own rule #6 for this one because I knew we’d all be drinking whites or light reds and was really feeling two particular cheeses that I had in my cart at the time (a creamy herbed goat cheese and Cypress Grove’s Humboldt Fog), but I generally try to stick to the above. Here is what I used:
- Something sweet // honey for drizzling // honey packaging is usually a little unsightly so I transferred a bit of honey to a small pinch bowl and served with a honey dipper (both below)
- Something salty // Whole Foods’ truffled Marcona almonds with sea salt // you can find these by their artisanal cheese selection where there are a huge variety of fresh olives available.
- Something briny // Castelvetranno olives // my favorite olives in the world (see #2 for where to buy)
- Something seasonal // Figs!
- At least one type of cracker or bread // sea salt flatbread crackers
- A hard cheese and a soft cheese // I used an herbed goat cheese and Humboldt Fog
Do you have any favorite must-have additions to your cheese boards? I’d love to hear!