At the Brown Jug in Sandwich, Proprietor, Michael Johnston finds inspiration from his European travels and English upbringing. The store is filled with accoutrements from all over the world, such as Indian chutney, Iggy’s bread, hard-to-find cheeses such as Epoisses de Berthaut, a stinky, cow’s milk cheese from Burgundy  that follows a traditional process dating back to the 16th century, and Taleggio, an Italian semi-soft delicacy with a strong nose and a fruity tang. Johnston plans months in advance to ensure the store is offering unexpected and adventurous items perfect for all types of boards. According to Johnston, his favorite time of the year is the holidays, when “the store comes alive” and when he has, “the most unique and sought after goodies,” many of which are only made once a year, such as  sweet treats like panfortes and turron, “from very small organic produces in Europe.”

At the North Falmouth Cheese Shop in North Falmouth, owner Jennifer Dwyer specializes in offering a variety of  cheeses to enjoy. Her selections hail from all over the world, as well as some local treats. From Martha’s Vineyard, Grey Barn’s Prufrock cheese, and Vermont’s Springbrook Farms’ Ashbrook artisan cheese are just some of the treasures that can be found here. North Falmouth Cheese Shop also offers cured and salty smoked meats to accompany their cheeses. Dwyer, who got her start at Heather Cantin’s Chatham Cheese Shop offers some cheese buying advice. “Find a shop that allows you to taste cheese,” otherwise, she says, “just be brave and dive into the adventure of food discovery by purchasing something new.”

A simple cheese board from North Falmouth Cheese Shop

The Brown Jug, Chatham Cheese Shop and The North Falmouth Cheese Shop all provide services for one to order prepared cheese and charcuterie boards of multiple sizes with appropriate notice. 

Don’t forget the canvas on which to build an epicurean masterpiece! The beauty of creativity is that the artist has the liberties to make unique choices, it is no different when creating an artful piece with food. Take in your surroundings. For example, a pizza peel might be an interesting base, or a shellfish or tea sandwich tower, especially if space is an issue. Local craftsmen make lovely boards for purchase, such as the handsome multi-grained hardwood cutting boards of B&B Woodworking in Dennis. 

Assembly required! Although in art, rules are made to be broken, some basic rules can serve as guidelines. Place your largest food items first, then group the pairings. Cheeses will serve as anchors on your plate, give them plenty of room and place accompaniments closest to the cheeses that pair best with them. Try pickles and a smear of coarse ground mustard cozied up to a mound of crumbled farmhouse cheddar, or torn up crusty Pain d’Avignon bread skirted around a heavenly soft, tangy, bloomy rind of a La Tur cheese. The scattering of Marcona almonds, briney olives, winter vegetables and dried fruit encourages your guests to embark on their own adventure since those nibbles will work in any combination.

A shellfish tray is an unexpected but perfect cheese board display

The Cape has an abundance of locally-made accoutrements to procure for guests to enjoy. Spend time seeking out the ingredients beforehand, then the assembly will be swift, allowing time to connect and discuss the curation of the masterpiece when guests arrive!

Ready to make your own cheese board? Check out our Best Of to find markets and craftsmen near you!