A few weeks ago, I found myself home on a Tuesday night, and in a celebratory mood for no particular reason. We decided to ditch our original dinner plans (Ma Po Tofu) in favor of an elevated cheese plate. I walked to the cheese store, assembled a board, and popped open a bottle of Champagne. It turned out to be such a fun night that felt special simply because we did something unexpected and fancy-ish without it feeling stuffy. Which made me wonder: Why do I only reserve cheese boards for parties and entertaining guests? My cheeseboard was thrown together in minutes, but there were several added touches that made it feel like a party for two. Here are the items I like to keep on hand to make a cheese board part of everyday life:
A good coupe: Coupes are so elegant they could make sparkling water feel special. While I'm personally a fan of Champagne over water, I love how versatile they are, in that they're the perfect vessel for any bubbly cocktail (or beverage). Tip: Buy more than you need. If you need four, buy eight, because these break easily.
Cheeseboard: Though you may be tempted to buy an enormous, party-ready cheese board, look for one that's medium-sized (about 12-inches in length or diameter) with minimal details and a simple shape. You want to let the cheese stand out. I recommend wood or marble materials as a neutral backdrop for the cheese. Tip: This is a great item to look for at a flea market!
Cocktail napkins - This is another easy way to add flair to your cheese board. Although I recommend a simple coupe and board, be adventurous or bolder when selecting your cocktail napkins. Tip: Pick up little napkins on your travels. My favorites are embroidered ones I picked up in Mexico and linen napkins from our honeymoon in Italy. It also makes for a great conversation starter when hosting.
Cheese knives: Similar to a cheese board, I gravitate towards a simpler cheese knife set. There are many knives with fancy handles but I prioritize practicality (like being dishwasher-safe) over frills or decorative motifs—which makes them easier to justify pulling them out when it's just you!
Baskets: Clamato, a restaurant I love in Paris, serves rustic, sliced bread in a simple paper basket. It makes the bread so much more appealing to eat than when it's simply served on a plate. I don't always have fresh bread on hand, but it's just as easy to throw crackers or a cluster of grapes in a napkin-lined basket. Tip: Baskets are multi-functional so don't forget to use them to corral other items like toiletries, linen, mail, etc. when it's not being used to amp up a cheeseboard.
Serving dishes: I collect little bowls and ramekins in colors that can mix and match together. Whether it's chips or artichokes, tapenade or olives, little dishes break up the cheese and bread (which is typically the same color and can tend to look monotonous). Tip: Buy these all in similar colors so they can work on their own or as a grouping.
Tray: Trays are great for bringing all the above items into one location, so you can transfer the party (even if it's a party-for-one) out of the kitchen, to an outdoor setting or dining table, more easily. Tip: I even use a tray when I'm serving Sloan and her friends snacks. It's an easy way to make things as simple as string cheese and slices of apple look elevated.
Champagne: I can't say it too many times, but I always have a bottle of Champagne waiting in the fridge. Nothing says "celebration" like the sound of a cork. Tip: Lay the Champagne bottle on its side so the cork stays hydrated, and doesn't shrink to let air in and alter the Champagne.