This post was made possible because I attended the Fresh Air Retreat in New Orleans, sponsored by the lovely people at Raptive, Del Duca, Raincoast Crisps, and La Panzanella!

Last month I was able to attend one of the most fun events I’ve been to as a blogger: The Fresh Air Retreat in New Orleans! It was a small group of amazing writers and content creators who came together to share ideas and eat a lot of delicious food!

One of my favorite sessions during our time in New Orleans was working on custom cheese boards! We all got to make our own and we made some good ones! I know that cheese boards are a common appetizer to make in the summer so I thought I’d put together a list of Seven Must-Have Items that can help you take your cheese boards to the next level!

Check out my list and also see the Fresh Air Retreat recap at the bottom of the list!

#1 – A good mix of cheeses and meats

This should go without saying, but it’s always a good idea to have a great mix of cheeses and meats for your board. Mix up the textures having some softer cheeses and charcuterie and some firmer. We used Del Duca meats which are really delicious, available at many locations, and come in a variety of packages.

Del Duca meat line-up.
Photo Credit: Amanda Kamppinen

#2 – Try a Salami Rose

A great way to maximize space on your board and also make something pretty is to make a salami rose! Pick a firmer salami like Sopresseta and stack slices in a wine glass. Then flip it over on your board and it’ll come out as a pretty rose.

Photo credit: Amanda Kamppinen

#3 – Cheese triangles

Sometimes it can be hard to figure out how to best present cheese on your board. If it’s a softer cheese, you probably want to leave it mostly whole so it doesn’t melt. For firmer cheeses, I like to cut my cheese into triangles which you can stack or arrange in interesting ways and make it easy to serve.

#4 – Amazing crackers

You need good crackers to make a great cheeseboard. Many people think of crackers as just a vessel for other things on the board, but good crackers can be a highlight on their own!

I used two different brands of crackers for my cheese board and both were amazing.

These La Panzanella crackers are light and airy but strong enough to really be able to be stacked high. I like them as a good base option for any cheese board. (store locator)

Photo Credit: Amanda Kamppinen

Then I tried these raincoast crisps which I had never had before and was very impressed by the different flavors. I particularly liked the rosemary flavor! (store locator)

Photo Credit: Amanda Kamppinen

#5 – Various Fruits (dried and fresh)

Get creative with your fruit options for your summer cheeseboards and be sure to mix up dried fruits and fresh fruits. For example, if you’ve never had blue cheese and dried pineapple together, you are missing out!

Various Fruits and Veggies
Photo credit: Amanda Kamppinen

#6 – Honey and Spreads

A little schmear of jam or drizzle of honey is a great way to elevate your summer cheese boards. Since most of the items on the board tend to be really savory, a little sweetness is a great option for balancing out the board.

#7 – Labels

You can buy little flags or labels pretty cheaply and they are a cute way to label each cheese and meat or just write some funny messages for your guests!

Nick holding a cheeseboard.

My Fresh Air Retreat Recap

Over the course of a few days, we ate and drank our way through New Orleans, but I have to say that the highlights for me were the moments at the house. It was such a great group and we really were able to spend some time problem-solving and brainstorming (There are some changings coming to this here website!)

Here’s the list of attendees and you should absolutely check them out and follow them!

Elizabeth from Confessions of a Baking Queen
MacKenzie from Grilled Cheese Social
Jordan from JZ Eats
Maegan from The Baker Mama
Lauren from The Curious Plate (HOST!)
Liz from The Lemon Bowl (HOST!)
Danielle from The Salty Cooker
Ari from Well Seasoned Studio
The amazing Chef Trimell who cooked all our meals and taught me how to stuff a chicken wing with mac and cheese!
The amazing Amanda Kamppinen who took all the wonderful photos!

This is probably not surprising, but we ate really well!

Some of the highlights were the classic muffuletta sandwich at Napoleon House and an epic multi-course meal at the iconic Commander’s Palace!

I came away from the retreat with some new friends and LOTS of new ideas!