My dad Devon Thomas has been seeing Chica Reyass for a few months now but they've yet to have the conversation about labels, even though Chica casually refers to herself as my dad's partner. I've read a lot of books about relationships and psychology during lunch (I hide in the library to avoid being bullied), and the consensus is that now's the time for my dad to bring it up.
To set the mood just right I suggested my dad make dinner, so I've been teaching him how to make a wine and cheese board when you're on a budget, which he is. They're easy to make, impressive, and fun to eat. Here are my best tips!
Use a board you already have.
This is a great lifehack when trying to make a wine and cheese board when you're on a budget: use a board you already have. Old cooking sheets, cutting boards, or pizza paddles are actually better than fresh ones. If I saw a fresh board I'd say, "Do you even cook, bro?"
You probably already have spreads.
Look, I love sauce. Who doesn't love sauce? Do you not like sauce? How are you eating your foods then?! WITHOUT SAUCE?! "Do you even cook, bro?" Chances are you already have all the condiments you'd find on a professional quality cheese board, which, guess what, you are preparing yourself because there's no difference between a professional and amateur cheeseboard other than a $10 markup. So, grab your unfinished jams, honeys, and mustards, put them into tiny ceramic ramekins and put them on your cheese board.
Let them eat bread!
One of the secrets of making a wine and cheese board on a budget is to fill tummies and space with bread! Better than crackers, bread can be purchased for far less than the gourmet matzo they're passing off as flatbreads for $7—yeah, what do you think those flatbreads are? THEY'RE MATZO AND YOU'RE BEING RIPPED OFF! "Do you even cook, bro?"
Let's get this cheese party started!
Sing this to the tune of Flash Gordon: "Cheese! Ahhhhh! SAVIOUR OF THE UNIVERSE!" Cheese is the best. It's up there with pizza, which is made with cheese. I usually have three for each board: a soft cheese, a crumbly smelly cheese, and a firm cheese. So, that might be some brie or camembert, blue cheese or gorgonzola, and a gouda or parmesan. My suggestion is to talk with the cheesemonger (CM) since you're trying to make a wine and cheese board when you're on a budget. The CM will be able to sell you any leftover pieces of cheese that are priced to move. Then follow this wine and cheese pairing guide to make the best decisions.
Make your guests work for it.
Hahahahaha! This is so devilish of me. In addition to taking up more space, by placing your cheese and bread on the board uncut, you make your guests perform labor that will take up time and, as a result, lead to them getting closer to being full. Shelled nuts are great for this too! They'll be cutting that cheese while digesting what they just ate and suddenly they've had their fill of cheese!
Buy a single, show-stopping cheese.
As I said, these are tips for making a wine and cheese board when you're on a budget. So, buy the budget version of all the cheeses (no one will complain; it's cheese!) but go all out on one cheese that will leave your guests floored. That way when they think back on the cheese board you're guests will think, "I loved the brie, and the fruit, and, oh, that one cheese, what was it? I don't know, but it was so good!" Or, in my dad's case, hopefully he'll hear one of the cutest things you can say to your boyfriend.
You must serve fruit!
Fruit goes great with cheese. So, get some grapes, strawberries, or figs and put them on your plate. They'll take up space, look pretty, and your guests will appreciate the pairing.
Don't shop hungry.
This is a tip for when you're actually buying the ingredients for your board: don't shop hungry. Your hunger will be driving your decisions and you'll be liable to make poor buying choices. This is also a great tip on how to stay healthy on a budget.
Remember, you're trying to impress. Or, in my dad's case, you're trying to ask a question that terrifies a lot of people: "Are we in a relationship?" You don't want to ask that question while thinking, "I can't believe I spent $19 on parmesan."
Don't forget to comparison shop.
There may be a lot of price variation within the store, so make sure to look everywhere. Compare deli-cut cheeses and meats vs. pre-packaged options. Also, compare name brands to more artisanal varieties. Sometimes the difference is negligible; other times it's not. And don't forget to only pay for what you can eat, which means don't get a cheese that's rind heavy.
Affordable wine is great wine!
When you're combining wine, cheese, and meats it's hard to go wrong. It's like The Best of Hall and Oates; no one's going to complain when "Man Eater," "Rich Girl," or "Private Eyes" come on. So, just go with a brand like Dark Horse or just go to Trader Joe's. And if you're not sure what wine to grab from Trader Joe's, here are 16 tasty options.
That's all you need to know to make a wine and cheese board when you're on a budget! Feel free to throw in some gherkins, olives, dried fruit, or whatever else you want. It's your wine and cheese party!