Overhead view of a round, white marble serving board with an assortment of cheese, fruit, and condiments for a charcuterie board next to a black and white checkered napkin.

Beyond Cheese & Charcuterie: Unique Pairing Ideas to Level Up Your Cheese Board

Finding the right spreads and dips for your cheese board just got a whole lot easier! When crafting your perfectly paired local Ontario cheese experience, it’s important to remember a few key tips:
 

Including a variety of cheeses from each family — soft, semi-soft, bloomy rind, semi-hard and hard, ensures a delicious range of flavours and textures for you and your guests. For a more detailed list of what cheeses to include on your next cheese board, check out our charcuterie article.

 

Pairing the Perfect Spreads and Dips: Next, when it comes to pairing condiments with your cheese, contrasting flavours are your friend. Sweet and savoury flavours are a perfect match! In Ontario, local artisanal cheese is both abundant and varied, offering unique styles and flavours, making it fun and easy to pick the perfect pairings for your board. Check out our recommendations below.

 

Lastly, always choose items you love eating! Though the aesthetics of the board might be pretty high on your priorities, it shouldn’t have to come at the expense of enjoying every single item on it! If something isn’t in your wheelhouse, simply switch it out with another item with a similar flavour profile. Luckily, our local selection is plentiful for finding products to perfectly suit your preferences.

Sweet & Savoury Matchmaking Ideas

SAVOURY

 

Mustard

  • Pair strong or spicy mustards with Cheddars

  • Pair milder grainy or sweet mustards with aged hard, sharp cheeses - it’s all about contrast!

  • Try mild, grainy mustard with Handeck from Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese in Woodstock, ON.

 

Olives

Olives are a cheeseboard classic, but like fine wine, the taste and appearance of olives varies significantly by provenance.
 
Try Belle Marie Double Crème Brie from Albert’s Leap (Quality Cheese, Vaughan, ON) with
sweet, buttery Castelvetrano olives or black di Cerignola olives with Extra Old Smoked Cheddar from Jensen Cheese (Simcoe, ON).
 

Cherry Tomatoes with Balsamic Vinaigrette

This simple side dish will make your fresh cheeses sing. Even better, try roasting it on a baking tray at 400°F for about 15 minutes before serving to add some warmth to your board.
 
Try cherry tomatoes tossed in balsamic vinaigrette with fresh Ontario mozzarella from Ferrante Cheese (Vaughan, ON).
 

Horseradish

If you haven’t tried cream cheese with horseradish, you’re really missing out. Horseradish is made from the root of the horseradish plant, a member of the same family as the wasabi and mustard plants.
 
Pair horseradish with sharp Cheddars like Maple Dale 4-Year Cheddar (from Plainfield, ON) or Blue cheeses like Devil’s Rock from Thornloe Cheese (Thornloe, ON). If strong flavours are not your thing, try mixing a little horseradish into a ramekin of Ontario cream cheese as a spread on your board.
 

Red Pepper Jelly

This sweet and often spicy jelly adds some heat to a cheese board and is also one of our go-to ingredients to elevate classic grilled cheese sandwiches.
 
Try red pepper jelly with creamy, nutty or tangy cheeses like Mountainoak Farmstead GOLD Gouda (New Hamburg, ON) or 5 Brothers from Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese (Woodstock, ON).
 

SWEET

 

Honeycomb

Not only is honeycomb beautiful on a cheeseboard, it’s entirely edible. The hexagonal comb is made of wax chambers made by worker bees that contain individual honey cells. The pure sweetness of honey is a beautiful companion for aged and nutty or fresh and creamy cheeses.
 
Try honeycomb with Ontario Blue cheese like The Celtic Blue from Glengarry Fine Cheese (Lancaster, ON), Grand Trunk, a farmstead gruyere-style cheese from Stonetown Artisan Cheese (St. Marys, ON) or Niagara Gold, a one-of-a-kind artisan cheese made with Guernsey cow milk from Upper Canada Cheese (Jordan Station, ON).
 

Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate or Ganache

Salted caramel dark chocolate or creamy ganache with a sharp, aged Cheddar is almost a guaranteed food memory. It’s also a great way to sneak some chocolate onto your board.
 
Try it with aged Ontario cheeses like Iron Horse from Glengarry Fine Cheese (Lancaster, ON) or aged Cheddar from Empire Cheese (Campbellford, ON).
 

Dried Goji Berries

Goji berries are a delightful, nutrient-rich superfood with a flavour similar to dried cranberry or sour cherry that pairs deliciously with fresh, soft cheeses like Brie or Camembert-style cheeses, cottage cheese and fresh cheese curds.
 
Try goji berries with Brigid’s Brie from Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese (Woodstock, ON) or fresh cheese curds from your local cheesemaker.


Maple Syrup or Dulce de Leche

Ontario’s maple syrup game is nearly as strong as its record for producing world-class artisan cheese, so it’s on point to add some of this sweet syrup to a locally-inspired cheese board. Maple syrup shares a similar pairing profile with Dulce de leche, which is simply heated milk and sugar caramelized and thickened into a wonderful, caramel-flavoured confection that works as well over ice cream as it does with salty, creamy cheeses like sharp Cheddars, Parmesan or Asiago.
 
Try Ontario maple syrup or dulce de leche with Thornloe Cheese Asiago (Thornloe, ON) or Black River Cheese 3-Year Cheddar (Milford, ON). If you’re in a hurry, Black River also crafts a ready-made Maple Cheddar!
 

Honeycrisp Apple

Apple and Brie is a classic combination for contrast of both flavour and texture. Creamy
Ontario Brie meets the crisp sweetness of this prized apple for a truly memorable pairing.
 
Try Ontario Honeycrisp apple with Evanturel from Thornloe Cheese (Thornloe, ON) or Albert’s Leap Bel Haven Brie (Quality Cheese, Vaughan, ON).

Tips & Tricks

If you’re new to cheese boards, or just want to touch up your cheese board skills, we’ve come up with a few more tips and tricks to help you wow your guests:
 
Be sure to serve your cheese at room temperature - this is how cheese is meant to be experienced. Allowing the cheese to come to room temperature loosens the fat and enhances the texture and flavour of the cheese! We suggest taking it out of fridge approximately 30 minutes before serving and leaving it out for no more than two hours.
 
Displaying the cheese in different shapes helps add more visual appeal. Try a variety of wedges, cubes, and slices to elevate your board into a true piece of edible art.
 
Adding crackers and breads can create additional textures and flavours - not to mention more vehicles for the cheese! Couple these with garnishes such as edible flowers and herbs for some colour and your board will look almost too good to eat.
 
As many cheeses and condiments are lighter in colour, using a dark wood or slate board can add further contrast for visual appeal.
 
Last but not least, let your creativity shine! The best boards are a journey and great cheese pairings are like plot twists in a local food narrative. Be sure to share the story of each cheese - where it comes from, who made it and what makes it special to you!

Savour Ontario Kitchen
Written By

Savour Ontario Kitchen

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