Build a Better Cheese Board: National Cheese Lovers Day 101

January 19, 2020

These days there’s a holiday for everything and some of them are truly ridiculous: National Lost Sock Memorial Day (unofficially celebrated every laundry cycle), National Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day (there’s something very satisfying about popping good bubble wrap), or National Lazy Day (literally me every day after I get home from work) - just to name a few. And don’t forget all those foodie holidays we love to celebrate: coffee day, guac day, and oh yea, National Cheese Lovers Day!!

(Stay with me here, guys. This post might get a little cheesy, but I think it’s really grate.)

But really guys. Do we need a reason to celebrate cheese? Uh no, I celebrate this holiday on the reg because this girl loves cheese. But I decided to officially celebrate & go all out. National Cheese Lovers Day this year is officially on Monday, January 20th, but I'm celebrating early. So today, I’m dishing up some local recs on where to score the best fancy artisanal cheeses, how to build an epic cheese board on a budget, and bonus: I threw in a super subtle Ratatoullie Disneybound because why the hell not (who knows great cheese better than Remy?!)

Ok first of all, if you're scratching your head, going, "Who is Remy?" then you need to stop what you're doing and go watch Ratatouille. Remy is the main character from the film & is the cutest little rat (two words that usually don't go together), with a serious knack for cooking. So when I decided to do a little post centered around Cheese Lovers Day, I knew I had to draw my outfit inspiration from him.

I mostly just drew upon his color scheme and went with light grey, pink, and blush. You probably can't tell from the photos, but my vest was suede with a little bit of fur on the lapel, which I thought paralleled nicely to Remy's fur.

Once dressed for the occasion (because y'all know that's kind of my thing), we set off in search of lunch to celebrate. Chattanooga has a grate little cheese shop on the Southside that serves up sammies packed with cheeses I can't pronounce, as well as an impressive selection of craft brews. The shop is called Bleu Fox, and in addition to the cafe, you can also purchase all kinds of artisan cheeses (ask for recommendations! They know their stuff!), order a cheese or charcuterie plate (single OR party size!), and even attend one of their unique events. They often host events like cheese & beer pairings, cooking classes, and have even done a cheese + Girl Scout cookie pairing class. 

We popped in to check out the selection and indulge in some of their mouthwatering sandwiches.

With our target acquired & our tummies full, it was time to round up the rest of the cheese for the cheese board I was going to build. So here's where the real fun comes in: choosing your cheese. I'm not picky when it comes to cheese - I love it all (give me Gouda or give me death!). My palette does tend to lean more towards sharp & nutty cheeses, so when it comes to cheddar, the sharper the bedda' (stop rolling you're eyes; I told you this post was going to be cheesy). I'm not scared of blue or pungent cheese, either, and I don't discriminate when it comes to species (goats make some amazing cheese)!

Start with the cheese & build out from there. I would say you want at least 3-5 different kinds of cheese, at least 1 type of charcuterie/meat, some carbs like bread or crackers, and some type of fruit.

Cheese can really run the gamut on price though, so when building your board, you want to set a budget. We opted for 2 "fancy" (ie. pricier) cheese and the rest we would source from typical grocery stores. We picked up some Pleasant Ridge Reserve (raw cows' milk cheese, aged 60 days or more, according to the package) and Herve Mons Tomme De Chambrille (some kind of blue cheese made from goats' milk). The rest were simple, with more easily pronounced names: extra sharp cheddar, spreadable pub cheese, and my personal favorite, Dubliner Irish cheddar (always a crowd pleaser; if you like a more nutty profile on cheese, this one is for you). The 2 fancy ones were sourced from Whole Foods, since they often have "sample size" cheeses for sale if you want to try a few different kinds, and the rest were all from Aldi's, which actually has a rather impressive selection of nice cheese. Total cost? A little over $15 for all the cheese.

But again, this is completely customizable. You could go even cheaper based on what types of cheese & how many you actually want - or you can certainly go big or go home with as many fancy types as you want.

We added slices of a mini french loaf, a summer sausage, crackers, grapes, and a mix of Kalamatta olives and almonds (also all sourced from Aldi's - trust me, if you're on a budget, this is the place to go). I like to have a dipping sauce for my bread, so my go-to is always a 50/50 mix of olive oil + balsamic, with just a dash of Italian seasoning sprinkled in.

And this last part goes without saying but your board is not complete unless there's some wine in there. I really know nothing about which wines pair with which cheese, but I do know that I like to serve a variety, so it's always good to have a few on hand. Try offering 2 reds and a white (or vice versa if you're not big on the red). You definitely want at least 1 bold red in there, like a good chianti or cab sav.

Then all you need are some friends to enjoy it with (or not - no judgement here)! After all, sweet dreams are made of cheese. Who am I to dis a brie?

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