Organising, prepping and then cooking a full-blown dinner party can be an enormous task – and that’s without even mentioning the washing up – but there is an easier way to entertain guests.

Putting together a simple cheese board is a colourful, tasty and relaxed centrepiece of any social gathering. There’s no defrosting, no cooking, no chopping of ingredients - just unwrap the cheese and arrange it on a board and relax as you wait for your guests to arrive.

Another advantage cheese parties have over dinner parties is that they generate more chatter as guests stand and mingle, rather than sit at a table (potentially next to someone they don’t get along with).

Getting the right blend of cheeses is, of course, crucial to the success of your board. There are a few families in the cheese world that should be included: blue, soft, hard, and fruity.

Start with a classic British cheddar, something hard and yellow with a bit of bite, but not too much because other cheeses on your board will do that job. SpinneysFOOD has an impressive collection of cheddars – ranging from mild to mature and extra mature – some of which have been recognised with gold medal awards at international cheese festivals.

Cheddar cheese is a classic and can be mild, strong or extra mature.

Cheddar cheese is a classic and can be mild, strong or extra mature.

Next, grab some soft French brie or camembert, both icons of the cheese world that provide a tangy and nutty flavour and look great when they start to soften and ooze on the board.

Easy greens

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Ready Pac Foods spring salad mix 142g

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SF ORGANIC LITTLE GEM LETTUCE TWIN PACK

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Baked camembert is a clear winner when it comes to entertaining. Serve it warm with toasted garlic bread.

Baked camembert is a clear winner when it comes to entertaining. Serve it warm with toasted garlic bread.

For colour and personality, a veined blue cheese deserves a seat at the party. Seeing as you’ve already ticked the British box with cheddar, why not go for some Italian dolcelatte or a wedge of Danish blue for some real punch.

Crumble blue cheese on a burger and allow it to melt onto the warm patty for a taste sensation like no other.

Crumble blue cheese on a burger and allow it to melt onto the warm patty for a taste sensation like no other.

A herbed goat’s cheese is a pleasantly gentle and smooth taste to include and looks attractive with its green speckled top. Meanwhile, a fruity Wensleydale, studded with apricots or cranberries perhaps, offers sweetness in contrast to its savoury neighbours. Plus, Wensleydale has a crumbly texture that’s different to the other cheeses, which shows your guests you've put thought into your board.

Herb cheese is wonderful on toasted bread, crackers or bagels. Spread thinly for a healthy snack or top with sliced radish and peas for a nutritious light meal.

Herb cheese is wonderful on toasted bread, crackers or bagels. Spread thinly for a healthy snack or top with sliced radish and peas for a nutritious light meal.

Some other things to consider:

  • Choose a smart, wooden board on which to serve your cheeses
  • Provide some sharp cheese knives
  • Get crafting and make small labels for each cheese to tell guests what they’re eating and what country it’s from
  • Serve the cheese at room temperature so that all the flavours emerge
  • Your guests will need small plates, knives forks and napkins

Once the cheese part of your soiree is covered, it’s time to look at the frills. Crackers and bread are essential, otherwise a plate full of cheese is too cloying and overpowering. A few different types of crackers, plus some bread sticks, and a sliced baguette are all you need.

Dried fruit is a lovely, sweet juxtaposition to the creamy cheese – apricots, dates and figs work really well. Grapes, of course, are a time-honoured presence at a cheese party and can help to soften the flavour of the stronger cheeses on offer. Add a flourish to your cheese board with a scattering of hazelnuts or walnuts, while a blob of sweet chutney in a small side bowl adds yet more texture and flavour.

Say cheese

Tasty varieties from around the world

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