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The Perfect Cheese Board

As far as we’re concerned, all perfect cheese boards start with Tillamook cheese. It’s really all you need to create a holiday party appetizer sure to delight your guests.


The Perfect Cheese Board with salami, grapes, olives and cheese

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Tillamook. All opinions are our own. Thank you for supporting the brands that we love.

How to Make an Epic Cheese Board

A perfect cheese board starts with The Perfect Cheese—so we start and end our hunt for cheese with Tillamook cheese. It’s true—we might be biased. Growing up in Oregon, a huge part of any trip to the coast was a visit to the wonderland that was and is the Tillamook Creamery. We also lived on grilled cheese sandwiches made with their classic medium cheddar for the entirety of our childhoods. But it’s not just nostalgic—our beloved Tillamook just keeps getting better with age.

Literally, their cheese gets better with age! Today—since at the holidays we spring for the best of the best—we’re all about Tillamook’s ‘Maker’s Reserve’ line of vintage cheddars. Yup! Each wedge of Makers Reserve has a vintage—just like with wine—and captures the unique characteristics of the time and place in which it was made.

Maker’s Reserve aged cheddar paired with whisky and wine
Maker’s Reserve aged cheddar on a cutting board
Maker’s Reserve aged cheddar on a cheese board with salami for the perfect cheese board.
The perfect cheese board with sharp cheddar, salami, apples, olives

Wait—Vintage Cheese?

Exactly. Tillamook’s master cheesemakers have been have maturing these fine aged cheddars here in Oregon—to learn even more about them (and why they deserve a spot on your holiday cheese plate) head on over to the Maker’s Reserve Story to find out more. And then come back here to learn how best to showcase this super-special cheese.

The Perfect Holiday Appetizer for Any Party

Raise your hand if you head straight to the cheese board at every party you attend. Our hand is firmly raised. We’ve been known to park ourselves there ALL NIGHT LONG. Snacky and perfect, meat and cheese boards the most irresistible holiday appetizer EVER and pair perfectly with the bubbly that flows oh-so-freely this time of year. Here’s how to build the perfect cheese board:

  1. Pick your cheese! This is clearly the fun part, since tasting the cheese is obviously part of choosing it.
  2. Read up on the cheese’s tasting notes, so you can help party goers enjoy them to the fullest.
  3. Choose a few fun things to compliment your cheese, and round out the cheese platter—think, nuts, fruits and even drinks that’ll pair nicely. Aged cheddars make a classic pairing with nutty ales (which are abudant this time of year) as well as a gorgeous contrast to a golden fizzy, feisty glass of Champagne or prosecco.
  4. Accessorize off your cheese board with an array of complementary charcuterie (any cured meats you love will work) and something briny like pickles (cornichon are a classic choice) and a mixture of pitted olives.
ingredients for the how to build a cheese board salami, nuts grapes

What Pairs With Extra Sharp White Cheddar?

Our holiday cheese plate stars Tillamook’s 2012 & 2016 Maker’s Reserve aged cheddar!

Bold, velvety, and nutty flavors define the 2012 vintage—and we love its white peppery finish. We compliment its flavor with sharp, sweet sliced apples, and love to wash it down with peppery red wine, like a classic Côtes du Rhône. Meanwhile, the 2016 Maker’s Reserve’s more classic salty cheddar flavor is rich with a savory fruitiness, and goes well with dried fruit—think figs, prunes, even dried cherries—and a wee (or not-so-wee) dram of whisky.

Is It Okay to Serve Room Temperature Cheese?

Yes! In fact, your cheese will have a lot more flavor if you set it out for 30 minutes before serving it to your guests. This means that not only are cheese platters a crowd-pleasing appetizer, they’re also ideal for making ahead! We often prep our cheese plate a few hours before our guests come. Then, we’ll set it in the fridge and pull it out sometime in the hour before guests arrive to warm to room temperature. Pro tip: make sure you set the platter well out of pet-and-kid reach. We (unfortunately) speak from experience.

holiday cheese plate with Tillamook cheese, fruit, meats and spreads

Cheese: The Perfect Christmas Gift.

One of our favorite ways to give love during the holiday season is in the form of food and DIY gifts. Of course Tillamook specialty cheeses are the top of our list, and we are so happy that you can order your favorites online or in the deli-case of some local grocery stores—if you are lucky enough to have a cheesemonger present.Find Maker’s Reserve near you to buy these super special, highly giftable.

What is Maker’s Reserve?

If we haven’t yet sold you on trying these exceptional cheddar cheeses for yourself, let me tell you a little more about them . For some time now, Tillamook (the farmer-owned co-op that’s based here in Oregon) has been maturing a selection of top-notch cheddars, patiently giving each vintage time to develop its own unique profile, and now they’re ready to share those with the world. One of our favorite ways to enjoy them is to do a “vertical tasting”—just as you would with wine—meaning that you taste each vintage side-by-side, so that you can truly notice and enjoy the textural and flavor differences between the vintages.

The Perfect Cheese Board with salami, grapes, olives and cheese

Need More Cheese Board Styling Ideas?

We’ve got you covered:

What’s Your Favorite Cheese?

If you feel inspired and decide to make a cheese board, we want to see it! Be sure to tag @themodernproper or use #themodernproper. We love seeing what beautiful creations our readers come up with!

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The Perfect Cheese Board

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  • Jenn

    This was so helpful! I'm always at a loss when putting together a board and these tips were so helpful!

    You're welcome!