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Cheese, please: Afrim Pristine's tips for creating holiday cheese boards

As the owner of the Cheese Boutique, Afrim Pristine knows a thing or two about festive food platters. Here are his tips on creating a great cheese display.

To create the perfect cheese board, you want to have variety. The best part of cheese is all the different textures, flavours and styles. Your goal isn't to compliment each cheese, but to make sure they all contrast and are different. Here’s how to build a holiday cheese board, along with my recommendations for excellent Canadian options.

Hard aged cheese

A firm aged cheese is a must. The Lindsay Bandaged from Mariposa Dairy is a nicely aged goat cheddar. It’s got the texture you are looking for as a nice, sharp, hard cheese and lastly, it's lactose free.

Blue cheese

Bleu d’Élizabeth from Quebec is a biodynamic, cow’s milk blue which isn't very powerful or aggressive. This is blue cheese that even non-blue cheese lovers should enjoy. It’s very clean, very creamy and pairs amazingly well with honeycomb or fig chutney.

Sheep's milk cheese

The flavour of sheep’s milk is tangy and salty. The Bonnechere from Back Forty Artisan Cheese is a rare sheep’s milk cheese from Ontario. The rind is torched to really open up the flavour of the saltiness. This is also a semi-soft cheese, so another texture is added to the variety you already have.

Cow's milk cheese

Another soft texture essential to a cheese board is a classic triple creme. Riopelle de l’Isle is a creamy cow’s milk blue that’s rich and pleasantly funky. It’s a very different texture from the others, but for the stinky cheese lover, they will adore this.

Gouda

And lastly, let's finish with a gouda style cheese. Glengarry Lankaaster from Ontario is a semi firm, fruity, nutty cow’s milk cheese and is always a fan favourite.

Other items to add to your cheese board

Fresh apple – the acid of crisp apple cleans up the flavours of fatty cheese.

A sweet component such as dried fruit or chutney.

Water-based fruits such as fresh pear or fresh figs.

A neutral cracker or baguette (bonus points for gluten-free crackers).

Drink pairings with cheese

I prefer beer with cheese than wine. The carbonation and acid lends well to pairing with great, rich cheese and these days there’s a wide variety of beer styles available.

Cheese Boutique, 45 Ripley Ave., cheeseboutique.com

Top image courtesy of Oxford Cheese Trail

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