My biggest quibble with cheese boards is that I’m not supposed to eat all the cheese by myself, which feels unfair. Why would anyone present me with a giant board full of multiple tasty cheeses, then tell me I’m only supposed to have a tiny piece of each?
Variety is one way to break up my unmitigated cheese consumption in this scenario. When I decide to indulge in some creamy Camembert or a fine slab of Stilton, I treat it as a supporting player to other fine foods, like fresh fruit. And even though it’s damn delicious on its own, if fresh fruit is going to have any chance of competing against cheese for my attention, it’s going to need to dress itself up a bit. Quick-pickling fruit gives it an electric sweet-and-sour punch that cuts through the richness of full-fat cheese. (I refuse to acknowledge reduced-fat cheeses in the context of a cheese board.) These balsamic-pickled grapes need not be enjoyed in moderation, so pile them high and and eat as many as you please.
- 8 oz. grapes (about 2 cups)
- 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/2 cup water
- 6 whole cloves
- 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1 tsp. salt
Wash the grapes under warm running water and place in a large container with a lid.
Stir the remaining ingredients together in a microwave-safe measuring cup or small saucepan, then heat to a simmer. Remove from heat, stir again, then pour over the grapes. Pop on the lid of the container and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving.