How to Build a Passover Cheese Board
oh my goodness. there she is. in all her glory.
ISN’T SHE SOMETHING?
(^^something a grandpa would say. sometimes i think i might be a quarter grandpa.)
i’ve been dreaming of this passover cheese board for quite some time now. because that’s what i do. i dream of cheese boards. but really, is it not the stuff your wildest pesach dreams are made of? fancy shmura matzah, kosher cheeses, that little pomegranate hat, the bitter herb garnish… it’s almost too perf to be true.
it’s been about two weeks since my friends at UJA Federation NY enlisted me to take part in their second annual #matzahchallenge. naturally, i couldn’t say “yes” fast enough—and ever since, my mind’s been reeling with all sorts of matzah-ified food inventions. (just wait; there’s one coming every day for the next week or so!).
for the uninitiated: UJA is an awesome organization that helps millions of people in need every year, from ensuring that Holocaust survivors are taken care of to working towards alleviating hunger and poverty.
so, here's how their matzah challenge works: for every matzah post with the hashtag #matzahchallenge, they'll immediately make an $18 donation to someone in need. it’s as simple (and wonderful) as that.
i hope you'll join me in making the holiday even more meaningful this year by posting your own tagged matzah pics (feel free to get creative with it!) and let's raise some $$$.
yes, you can post twice or thrice or seventeen times.
yes, you can post your creation(s) anytime between the first and last nights of passover.
no, you don't *have* to celebrate passover to get involved. but 1) you’re missing out, my friend. you’re missing out. and 2) …um…you sure you’re reading the right blog?
there isn’t so much a recipe for this as there is a simple set of guidelines to follow. so, without further ado:
Tips for Building a Passover Cheese Board
Use Shmura Matzah
I know. it’s a little pricey. okay, very pricey. and if you don’t keep kosher, you probably don’t have too much interest in the stuff.
but hear me out: when you can’t do crackers, this is the next best thing. not only is shmura matzah actually the REAL DEAL when it comes to matzah, it also looks like the real deal. each piece is ridiculously huge, for starters, and they all have those delightfully uneven edges and organic-looking burn marks (they’re shaped like messy circles and it’s all very rustic-chic). they’re also a much lovelier, deeper, richer color than the boxed matzah you’re used to buying. which is probably due to the fact that they’re baked in smaller batches.
the sight of regular matzah just reminds people of, you know, having to eat matzah. that’s never a happy feeling.
but the sight of shmura matzah elicits all sorts of fancy. it gets people excited to eat matzah.
and that—as martha would say—is a very good thing indeed.
Add Variety With Several Different Cheeses
i don’t believe in all the nonsense about having to supply one of each type of milk cheese (one cow, one goat, and one whatever the heck else people are milking these days) (is almond cheese a thing?) (probably). i’m generally of the opinion that you should simply serve what you yourself would like to eat.
in this and all cheese boards, i do think there’s something to be said for selecting cheeses that vary somewhat in terms of their visual appearance. for me, that usually means selecting a round-ish cheese, maybe a creamy shapeless cheese, and a harder cheese with an optional fancy rind, perhaps. not because you have to. you don’t, of course. but just because it’s fun and because these boards tend to look prettier when you don’t just have a pile of triangles strewn to and fro.
also, hard as it is to believe, some crazy people out there don’t even like soft cheeses. so it can be good to offer a variety, if only for—*shudders*—them.
lastly, i actually decided to use all kosher cheese for my board, but you really don’t have to do that. obviously, you can pretty much customize this board to suit your own lifestyle. i just wanted to experiment and try a few of the kosher options at my local supermarket (hi fairway). for the record, they were really really really delicious and i would never have been able to tell the difference had i not picked them out with my very own hands / eyes.
Add Bitter Herb Garnishes + Pomegranate Seeds
i don’t mean to sound harsh. but i just don’t really care what you put on your board. it’s your board, after all. throw walnuts on there. blackberries. smoked salmon. whatever you please. live your LIFE. just make sure you fill in all the gaps and empty crannies. the “negative space,” if you will. (a phrase i stole from my high school dance teacher.)
for me, that’s always the most important thing. you always want these things to look LUSH and BOUNTIFUL and OVERFLOWING…never sparse or wilted or lonely.
all that said, one thing i *would* encourage you to use is parsley. why? well, because it’s one of the bitter herbs we all grow up eating at passover and so it makes perfect sense as a tongue-in-cheek garnish here. also, it conveniently comes in two different shapes: there’s flat-leaf parsley (used to garnish the round camembert cheese) and curly parsley (used to fill in all the NEGATIVE SPACE around the board).
speaking of negative space, can we talk about this? fascinating.
ok. i think that’s it. did i leave anything out? probably.
in other news, i’m in the middle of my second week at my wonderful new job and loving every minute. if you’d ever want to see any career / writing-related posts, leave a comment—i love hearing from you guys!
… *deafening cricket noises*
don’t all comment at once now!!
till next time,