While kids can be an easy crowd (who doesn’t love face painting and ice cream?) adults can be a tough crowd to entertain. But when Good teamed up with Marriott Autograph Collection’s chic new boutique retreat, La Ville Hotel & Suites City Walk, for a masterclass in entertaining, the experts made it look easy. From mastering the perfect cheese and wine pairing to hosting a Pinterest-worthy party, here are a few tips we picked up from the experts.

How to make the perfect cheese and charcuterie board

Serge Takelian is chef de cuisine at Grapeskin

What should we look out for when putting together a cheeseboard?

You need to always have a good contrast of textures and flavours, from soft to hard, mild to strong. Follow the saying “Something old, something new, something goat, something blue,” to get the
mix right.

What sort of board is best?

I prefer a wooden cheeseboard, because they look good, they’re reliable and they’re easy to clean. Plus, it makes the cutting of cheese easy, which can’t be said for a stone or marble board.

How much cheese should we provide per guest?

I would go for 50g to 80g of cheese per person, and keep in mind that people will tend to nibble more on an appetiser board than an after dinner board.

What are your personal favourite cheeses at the moment?

At Grapeskin, I love the Montgomery cheddar, which has a deep, rich nutty flavour, and the Ticklemore, a semi-soft goat’s cheese that has a rich, clean flavour without the overpowering aroma.

What is your go-to crowd-pleaser cheese?

It’s got to be the Montgomery. Everyone knows cheddar so they won’t be scared to try it.

What is an unusual cheese that everyone should try at least once?

Mistralou, a very soft, stinky goat cheese from France.

What sort of sauces or relishes pair well with cheese?

Try pickled or salted items like olives, with some spiced toasted almonds for crunchy texture. Chutney, jams or honey work well, as do fresh or dried fruits. I like honeycomb on mine.

What’s the biggest mistake people make when putting together a cheeseboard?

Cheese must be served at room temperature and, depending on the weather, some cheeses, especially larger ones, can need around two or three hours out of the fridge before they can be eaten at full flavour. Try to avoid having cheeses in contact with one another, and use separate knives for each.

What are the must-have items for putting together a charcuterie board?

Select a variety of meats with mild, medium and bold flavours. Provide something briny such as pickles, olives, sun dried tomatoes or caper berries, plus spreads like flavored mustards that go well with nice fresh baguette. Mix up the textures and tastes – cured hard sausages, soft, rich paté, thinly sliced smoked meats. Throw in some fresh greens like arugula and end with a drizzle of olive oil.

What is the biggest mistake that people make when putting together a charcuterie board?

Sweet goes well with charcuterie, but people tend to lean towards the brined and pickled items and leave the sweets for the cheese. Sweet and savoury spreads pair great on a cracker with a slice of cured meat or sausage. Try apricot or cherry preserves.

Do you have any other tips?

Don’t think of right or wrong when it comes to the perfect cheese or charcuterie board, and don’t be afraid to have fun and let go of any rigidity. Organised chaos somehow just works in this instance. Bring in various shapes and sizes with the cheeses, focus on getting lots different colours and textures on the plate, and don’t forget that glass of wine.

Top tips for entertaining

Juan van Huyssteen is beverage director at La Ville

  • Pick a theme for your party. This can depend on what food is seasonal, or what’s trendy right now in the food and beverage world. Look at blogs and magazines for inspiration.
  • Keep in mind that people love to learn new things, so if you introduce your guests to something new – whether it’s a dish or a drink – it’ll make your event more memorable. Consider printing out little notes about what you’re serving to give some background – people love a story.
  • If budget allows, outsource the catering and the bartending to give yourself more time to spend with guests. Otherwise, focus on menu items that can be prepared ahead of time and won’t take much to put together on the day itself. You don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen instead of socialising. 
  • When you’re choosing music, think about your theme and steer clear from what you hear on the radio. Music just needs to provide background noise and ambience; your guests must be able to hear themselves talk, so don’t play anything too vocal.
  • People love a party favour. As your guests leave, give them a little gift that fits with the party’s theme.

A fun and trendy neighbourhood wine bar and kitchen, Grapeskin is a social hangout, nestled within the courtyard of La Ville Hotel & Suites, City Walk. With its bright open spaces and industrial furnishings, it’s perfect for relaxing after work or catching up with friends, offering a laidback atmosphere and cool sharing platters, paired with eclectic wine and beverages, to suit every mood. Looking for a night out with a difference? Join the team for live entertainment every Thursday and Friday, from 7pm.

La Ville Hotel & Suites, City Walk, Dubai, Sun to Thur 4pm to 1am, Fri and Sat 3pm to 1am. Tel: (054) 3095948. Taxi: La Ville Hotel & Suites, City Walk. grapeskinlaville.com