Nothing like a gorgeous cheese platter to really get the party started! Building a cheese plate is easy because you have total control over the variety of cheeses to add. But it takes real skills to make a beautiful cheese plate, paired with the right fruits, crackers, wine, and condiments. In today’s post, we are giving you helpful tips and tricks to build a fabulous spread that will delight your cheese-loving guests:
Picking the Right Cheeses
There are hundreds of cheeses varieties out there, which ones should you get for your platter? Before choosing the right cheeses, you need to learn the different types of cheeses: aged cheese, soft cheese, firm cheese and blue cheese.
Aged cheese has a sharper taste like Gouda or Swiss. As the name implies, firm cheeses are firm in texture such as Monterey Jack, Provolone, Gruyere, etc. Soft cheese – such as Brie, Camembert, Constant Bliss – -takes on a gooey texture in room temperature while blue cheese is pungent, blue or green veined cheese with live culture. Stilton, gorgonzola, and Roquefort are great examples of blue cheeses.
Ideally, you want to pick one cheese from every type of milk – goat, sheep, and cow – to offer a variety of flavors and textures to the platter.
The Right Pairing
After selecting what cheeses to get, you need to learn what goes well with your choices. Crackers, bread as well as fresh and dried fruit go well with certain cheeses. Mild cheeses are best served with flavored crackers or bread. Sliced baguettes go well with soft cheeses especially when paired with honey or maple syrup. Blue cheese goes well with praline bacon or nut brittle while hard cheeses are perfect for slightly spicy foods like cranberry-beet horseradish or apple mustard.
Warm pistachios, sun-dried tomatoes, and apple slices also go well with soft cheeses while sliced onions are great with double or triple cream cheeses like St. Andre or Taleggio.
Appetizer or Dessert?
At which point of the meal do you plan to serve the cheese? Do you want to serve it as hors d’oeuvres or as dessert? If you’re serving cheese as an appetizer, present it buffet style. Get a wooden cheese platter and place it on the center of the table so guests can freely get their fill and go. For a light meal, two to three ounces per cheese should be enough for your guests.
If you’re serving the cheese plate as a dessert, then you will need less cheese, about one to 1 and a half ounces per person.
Arranging the Cheese Platter
When putting together all the ingredients in a cheese platter, keep your numbers odd rather than even. Odd number is often applied in other arts because it’s visually appealing.
The cheese must be arranged clockwise from mildest to strongest. Because blue cheese is always the strongest in flavor, put it next to washed rind cheeses. Do not place the cheeses near the rim of the platter or your arrangement will look messy.
Finally, add the toasted nuts, dried fruits, jams and marmalades to accompany the cheese. You can also add slices of fig cakes, wine jelly, quince paste or Italian mostarda to accompany the cheeses.
Pick the Wine
If you’re serving the cheese together with the dessert, you don’t have to serve it with wine. But if the cheese plate is meant as an appetizer, we recommend adding wine. Blue cheese go well with Port, Tawny Port, Muscat while champagne, chardonnay, sparkling wine and Pinot Grigio go well with soft cheeses.