W e’re always looking for an excuse to sneak extra cheese into our lives and surely a celebratory day in the history of one of the cheesiest countries in the world is perfect reason. Check out our guide to creating the perfect French-inspired cheese board (plateau de fromage), and French cheese etiquette this Bastille Day.

If you’ve got a spare 15 minutes – why not whip up some homemade chèvre using our easy recipe here.

THE SIX CHEESE CATEGORIES: FRENCH CHEESES

1.   Fresh: Chèvre Blanc, Boursin or Fromage Blanc.

2.   Bloomy-Rind: Brillat Savarin, D’Affinois Fromager, Brie or Camembert.

3.   Semi-Hard: Morbier, Reblochon or Gruyere.

4.   Hard: Mimolette, Tomme or Ossau-Iraty.

5.   Washed-Rind: Munster, Epoisses or Livarot.

6.   Blue: Roquefort, Bleu D’Auvergne or St Agur.

CHEESE BOARD DIVERSITY

  • We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Camembert and Brie alone, are just not going to cut it. It’s vital to include a variety of textures and flavours to ensure a memorable cheese board – so, how do you chose? For good variety, select cheeses from the six different cheese categories.

  • Include cheeses with differing milk varieties (goat, buffalo, cow, and sheep) to provide a unique aroma and flavour profile on the plate.

  • Serve at least one bog-standard, common cheese – for those less adventurous.

HOW MUCH TO SERVE?

  • Keeping with the French way, cheese is considered a separate course served after the main course and before dessert and coffee. In such a case, 50-75g per person is sufficient, but where cheese is the main event, plan to serve 150g per person.

CHEESE BUDGET

  • If you are limited by budget, we recommend quality over quantity. Keep it simple and buy fewer cheeses, but don’t compromise on the quality of the cheese.

CHEESE BOARD ACCOMPANIMENTS

  • Typically the French don’t serve a colossal selection of accompaniments with their cheeses, and instead keep it modest with some trusty baguette and perhaps some grapes. If you’re okay with breaking away from the French norm’ – we’ve written about more experimental cheese accompaniments here.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS

  • Separate strong-flavourd cheeses from the more delicate ones. If you want to serve a cheese that smells like feet (Epoisses), please do – but keep it far away from the delicate triple cream brie (Brillat Savarin).

  • Have a separate knife for each cheese, especially soft varieties that stick to the knife.

  • Remove the cheese from the fridge at least an hour before serving. Cold mutes flavour and stops some cheeses from becoming soft and deliciously oozy.

  •  Label each cheese. Cheese labelling is often forgotten, but is hugely important. This will save you from having to regurgitate the names of each cheese over and over again throughout the evening.

CHEESE ETIQUETTE

  • In France, the cheese plate will typically be passed from guest to guest around the dining table. Use your own fork and knife from your own place setting to cut off a bite-sized piece of cheese before passing it on.

  • Have a separate knife for each cheese, especially soft varieties that stick to the knife.

  • When in doubt, cut the cheese like you would a pie or a pizza. Many cheeses ripen from outside in – so the consistency and flavour of the cheese changes from the rind to the interior. It’s an absolute crime to cut off the “nose” (le nez) of a triangular-shaped section of Brie as you are depriving others of this oozy, flavourful centre.

  •  If you’re concerned about what cheese rinds you can eat, there’s no hard and fast rule – so eat what you are comfortable eating. Perhaps a wee nibble will help you decide.