Is there any food more beautiful than a sprawling charcuterie spread? For Antoni Porowski, Queer Eye’s Food and Wine Expert, there is not. “I will never say no to a charcuterie board,” he told us, and we can’t say we disagree. Unfortunately the similarities stop there: Antoni is a TV chef, and we are beauty editors. Antoni does photoshoots in his underwear, and we look at photoshoots of Antoni in his underwear. You’ll be happy to learn that, to fill this void of expertise, ITG has recently poached Antoni from Netflix, and he’s now our resident Cheese Advisor. OK, not really—but he did give us a few tips on how to assemble the perfect cheese board at home. To start, you’ll need a supporting cast of marcona almonds, fresh produce, and fancy dried fruits. “It’s also good to have Dalmatia fig spread, and either the crackers with cranberries and pistachios or a nice stone wheat cracker,” Antoni adds. You know what else goes great with cheese? Beauty products! That’s right, welcome back to Unnecessary Pairings—the crossovers you didn’t know you needed, but definitely do. We must say, it’s our most delicious yet.
To build our board, we started with a selection of Antoni’s favorite cheeses, available wherever cheese is sold. “Whole Foods has an awesome selection.” But if you’re reading from New York, you should know that Antoni’s all-time favorite cheese spot is Murray’s. “Murray’s Cheese is where I go if I want to impress guests. During the holidays they have a cheese called L’Etivaz, and you have to buy a hunk before it sells out.” After narrowing down his four favorites, we paired them with equally delicious-sounding beauty items—something rich, something fruity, something nutty, and something sweet. Everything you’d need for the perfect cheese board. Is there anything else we should know before digging in? “Do not serve cheeses straight from the fridge,” Antoni insists. “If you let them sit at room temperature, they taste better!” Noted. Here’s what we added:
Cabot Cheddar, with Caudalie Premier Cru The Rich Cream
“My favorite cheddar of all time is a Cabot cloth-bound cheddar,” said Antoni. “If you go to Costco, for $10 you can get one that’s literally the size of a brick, and it will last months in your fridge.” The wine pairing tonight is a Caudalie Premier Cru rich cream. Its active ingredient, resveratrol, is the same antioxidant found in red wine that may or may not be good for your heart. Luckily, studies like this one done by L’Oreal are showing that it does make a positive difference when applied topically. You don’t have to be a somme to tell that it’s great.
Sant-André, with Glossier Berry Balm Dotcom
A cheese board is not the time to be too controversial. It’s the time to make everyone love you, worship you, be wowed by your aptitude at entertaining and ability to assemble chic dairy. Give the people what they want! “A good crowdpleaser is a soft cheese like Saint-André,” suggests Antoni. His tip: “You have to make sure you get it ripe enough, because if it isn’t it’s crumbly and doesn’t have good flavor.” On a cheeseboard, you might pair it with fresh, juicy summer berries—we went with Berry Balm Dotcom, which is pretty darn close.
Delice de Bourgogne, with L’Occitane Shower Shake With Almond Oil
“Then I want a really creamy cheese that’s basically flavored butter,” continued Antoni. Don’t mind if we do! “ You can just smear Delice de Bourgogne on everything.” It makes sense to pair the classic Burgundy triple cream with a product of just-down-the-Rhône Provence: L’Occitane. Their almond oil wash smells like marzipan and feels like washing with cashmere—soft and luxurious. Very French, no?
Parmigiano Reggiano, with Farmacy’s Honey Potion
To round everything out, Antoni adds one more surefire bet. “You can never go wrong with parmigiano reggiano,” the hard Italian cheese just as dynamite grated over pasta as it is in big, satisfying chunks. It might be the most basic cheese on this list—which gives you full permission to get fancy with it. “In my cookbook, I have parmigiano reggiano nuggets with roasted garlic,” Antoni told us. “You cut the top off the garlic and roast it, then you squeeze it like a pimple and smear it on a baguette. You can put a little black pepper, or honey, or truffle if you’re into that. It’s really good.” While we don’t recommend pimple popping, we can stand behind putting some honey on it. You’ll probably need a good masking moment after all that dairy. Oops.
Photos by Tom Newton