It’s finally picnic season and I couldn’t be happier. Now is the perfect time to get outside and eat alfresco, while the weather is warm but not too hot yet.
I had been feeling really inspired lately to have a picnic after I received the cutest book in the mail at work (perks of the job – we get to review cookbooks) called The Picnic.
I absolutely loved everything about it — the cover design, the recipes, and most importantly, the picnic tips. It’s packed with everything from coming up with a themed picnic menu to 99 ways to use a Mason jar to a blanket buying guide.
I showed the book to all my friends and they loved it, too. We were looking for the perfect excuse to have a picnic when opportunity presented itself to us, tied up in a perfect little picnic basket. The Birmingham Botanical Gardens was having an event called Flicks Among the Flowers, where they show a movie outside on the lawn. People are free to pack a picnic and bring in whatever snacks or food they want.
We knew this was our chance to go all out for the first picnic of the season. My friend Lindsay made a delicious pasta salad with homemade pesto and I decided that I wanted to put together a cheeseboard for our perfect picnic. I love cheese, and there’s nothing I love more than a good cheeseboard. I checked my pantry to see what accompaniments I had and set off to pick the perfect cheeses.
Generally, you want to aim to have at least one cheese from each type of milk – goat, cow, and sheep. You also want to vary the cheeses in texture and looks. So some soft cheeses, some hard, and some semi-hard.
I decided on four cheeses to give a good variety. Once I selected my cheeses, I got some extra additions to put out on the board (almonds and dried fruit) and matched what accompaniments I already had to the cheeses I picked. I already had a large variety of honeys, jams, and spreads that were from various places, people, and some from my Try The World box subscription. (Side note: if you haven’t heard of Try The World, you definitely need to check it out. Each box is themed from a different country and is full of food products from that country. I love it!)
Here are the cheeses (and their respective accompaniments) that I used:
The Cheese: La Tur by Murray’s Cheese (bottom left in photo)
This is a triple cream cheese made from cow, goat, and sheep milk. It smelled strong, but wasn’t extremely strong tasting. It was earthy, rich, and super creamy. The edges were melty and the inside was slightly firmer but perfectly spreadable on a cracker.
Type: Triple cream, soft cheese
Paired with: I didn’t pair anything with it specifically because it’s a stronger cheese, but we did try it drizzled with lavender honey, and that was a good combination.
The Cheese: Skellig Cheese by Kerrygold (bottom right in photo)
I knew I wanted a harder cheese on the board, so I was looking for an aged cheddar. I came across Skellig Cheese by Kerrygold and was intrigued by its description as a sweet cheddar. This is now one of my favorite types of cheese. It was rich, sharp, and finished sweet. It was so good.
Type: Cow’s milk, semi-hard to hard
Paired with: I paired this with lavender honey, but also excellent on its own.
The Cheese: Apple Smoked Gouda Cheese by Red Apple Cheese (top right in photo)
I love gouda cheese, so there was no way it was going to be missing from my board. Smoked gouda is a good option to provide some variety and a different taste to the board. This apple smoked gouda had a flavor profile that was nutty, with notes of applewood and smoky flavors, but the smoked taste didn’t overwhelm the cheese. It was the perfect balance because some smoked goudas can be too smoky. It was also a good texture that fell between the harder cheddar and the soft triple cream and goat cheese.
Type: Cow’s milk, semi-hard
Paired with: Chestnut spread from my French Try The World box. The sweet nuttiness of the chestnuts paired well with the nuttiness of the gouda.
The Cheese: Goat Cheese by Ile de France (top left in photo)
It’s not hard to find good goat cheese, and I normally get mine from a local farm called Stone Hollow Creamery but I was in a pinch this time and just grabbed some goat cheese from the grocery store. Ile de France makes a pretty good goat cheese if you’re looking for an affordable option for your board. It’s creamy, has a distinctive goat cheese taste, and is a good spreading cheese.
Type: Goat’s milk, soft cheese
Paired with: Fig Jam, also from my French Try The World box. Goat cheese pairs well with any fruity jam.
There are so many great cheeses that make for wonderful cheeseboards. Play with different combinations of types, textures, and flavors and I promise you’ll be the envy of every picnic!