Photographed by Nina Gallant | Styled by Elle Simone Scott
When we think of on-the-go snacks, we tend to think of portioned, individually wrapped foods that require minimal to no refrigeration and are rarely ever enough to satisfy. They’re also not—how to put this—nice. Now, nice is not the same as good (hey, Gushers), but there’s a big gap between Slim Jims and sliced-to-order soppressata. Not to mention that one is infinitely more renowned for its portability than the other. But can a simple snack ever aspire to be more than a last-minute grab as you rush out the door? And is there a way to snack luxuriously on the road, especially on cheese?
In early 2019, Marissa Mullen made headlines for creating a cheese board on an airplane, using only snack packs from the JetBlue in-flight menu. Author of the book That Cheese Plate Will Change Your Life and creator of the Instagram account @thatcheeseplate, Mullen is arguably the poster woman for snacking in style. Thanks in no small part to that fateful red-eye flight and the ensuing social media hubbub.
While Mullen is a whiz at the delicate art of plating on the ground and in the air, the most valuable lesson we can learn from her is resourcefulness. When presented with several no-name cheese chunks, a handful of flattened olives, and a couple of ho-hum spreads, she didn’t see an obstacle; she saw opportunity. Since that first airborne cheese plate, Mullen has regularly smuggled her own fixings aboard flights in an attempt to one-up herself. Pairing cheese, crackers, preserves, and sometimes fresh produce, she’s able to create beautiful and scrumptious spreads from thin air, proving that it’s all about the attitude. That, and reliable food storage.
Taking a cue from Mullen’s snack-hacking sorcery, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite cheese and cheese-adjacent products that make it easy to snack in style wherever you are.
BelGioioso’s take on this hard Italian classic can go toe-to-toe with the OG Grana any day, and these bite-sized portions are just about the cutest darn thing. At ⅔ ounce each, the individually wrapped morsels don’t even need to be cut—at least, not with a cheese wire or heavy-duty knife like the big wheels. For your next road trip, pack a bag of eight American Grana bites plus a 4-ounce pouch of betcha-can’t-eat-just-ten Marcona almonds, and you’ll be set for miles.
When you want to bring a bit more pomp to your portable cheese plate, Snowdonia Cheese Company in Wales makes their kick-butt cheddars available in adorable 7-ounce wheels. Each wheel comes encased in wax, which helps preserve the cheese and seal in the bold flavor infusions—in the case of Amber Mist, that’ll be a shot of Scotch, perfect with an aromatic dry salami. Creminelli’s portioned packs of premium meats are available at most major grocery stores and are a gift from the Roman god of convenient charcuterie (Sausigarius).
Portable single serving of the world’s best hazelnut spread? Check. Two-pack of lovely, spreadable triple crème cheese? Double check. If your local supermarket has a well-rounded cheese case, chances are you’ll find a pack of Vermont Creamery Bijou: two little goat cheese buttons nestled in a convenient clamshell container. Perfect for sharing in transit, and just the right amount to pair with Nutella’s 1.8-ounce snack packs, complete with their own crunchy dipping sticks! (We bear no responsibility for any overindulgence.)
Cello Cheese heard the cries for a more serious snack tray and answered with their expertly curated cheese flights. Each flight includes three fine cheeses arranged around a theme like Ultra Bold or Farm Fresh—which features Copper Kettle Parmesan, Pepper Jack Goat, and Dill Rubbed Fontal. But what about a snack-sized meat? While Slim Jims might be out, Citterio’s answer to jerky sticks deliver all the subtle sweetness of a classic Italian dry salame.
Oregon-based Tillamook makes cheese sticks for so-called “grown-ups,” which differ from a classic cheddar cheese stick in that they’re, uh, rectangular. Maturity does count for a lot here, though, as Tillamook takes no shortcuts when aging their cheese (plus, they’ve been winning awards from the likes of the World Cheese Championship and the American Cheese Society for years). Cheddar loves pickles, and a perfect on-the-go partner to Tillamook’s toothsome cheddar bites are these crisp-and-crunchy pickled snap peas.