How to Create a Spanish Cheese Board
Let’s face it, a cheese and charcuterie board really isn’t just about the cheese and charcuterie. They are just a big old excuse to break out every wonderful nutty, fruity, salty, nibbly piece of snack stuff that you have hidden in your larder and call it dinner. Little bits of this and little bits of that are our favorite way to eat through the evening hour (what can we say, we’re part Spanish around here!) These boards are as beautiful and impressive as they are delicious, but they certainly don’t have to be complicated. With the right accompaniments and a modest attention to detail, you can create a board that both impresses your guests and just might convince you that Spain has this whole salty-sweet snacking for dinner thing figured out.
Get a BIG cheese board. The bigger the better, because once you start adding your favorite bites, you’ll always be wishing for more room. If you’re entertaining a smaller party, you can also group a more modest amount of fixings in the center of a large board, which looks impressive, and leave room on the sides for utensils and harder-to eat accompaniments. Wood and marble are classic, and slate can be fun if you’d like to write out in chalk the names of the cheeses beside each one.
Choose 3-5 cheeses in a range of styles (softer and creamier to aged) and from various sources (goat, sheep, and cow). Three from Spain that hit all the bases are Monte Enebro, Manchego or Idiazabal, and Cabrales. One to two ounces total per person will be plenty.
Choose 1-2 charcuterie, or “embutidos” in Spanish, which are dried, cured meats that usually don’t require refrigeration. Choose 3-4 slices per person per type. Spanish cured meats we love are jamón iberico, fuet and dry chorizo sausage.
Choose your sweet notes. Salty, savory cheeses beg for a sweet counterpoint, and Spain has this little problem all figured out. Matiz Organic Quince paste is a classic pairing with aged manchego cheese, but is wonderful with most cheeses. Spain is a known producer of high quality fruits (in the hot, higher elevation inland regions such as Extremadura). Matiz Fig and Apricot bars sliced thin, are a simple and lovely pairing with cheese. Choose multiple sweets for your board that hit a range of notes, like Puremiel Raw Organic Honeys in Lavender and Orange Blossom.
Get nutty. There’s only one sublime answer to this question: 1880 Marcona Almonds. Thick, toasty, creamy, and pan roasted in Spanish olive oil, they’re addicting!
Something pickled, something preserved. Salty and piquant, pickled and preserved veggies add an acidic note to milder cheeses, and are just plain fun to snack on. Natural Olives from Spain add just the right kick.
Crackers…don’t be boring! Crackers aren’t just a blank canvas, or a delivery vehicle for the good stuff on top. With the right cracker, you can bring out the complex flavors in cheese. We’re excited about the line of Bolboreta Bread Roll for Cheese. With 4 different flavors, the original one, garlic flavor, tomato flavor and whole wheat flavor, there are an endless number of flavor combinations to experiment with. Light and Macellum extra virgin olive oil tortas are also lovely with softer cheeses and are a Spanish classic.
Choose your “wild card”. We like to add an unexpected element to our boards, something that seems more like a dessert or a tapa that we sneak in amongst the fruits and breads. Blanxart Catanias are one of our favorites – 1880 marcona almonds covered in praline and white chocolate, then dusted in cocoa (yes they are as insanely good as they sound!). On the savory size, tinned seafood like Sardines or Organic Mussels give your board tapas-style flair.