My husband hates cheese… I know… I don’t get it either. I LOVE it and think it’s one of the best things on the planet and I will pretty much exploit any opportunity to buy it and eat it. So be prepared that if you are ever a guest in my house to be welcomed with truck loads of cheese.
Now, I am no cheese-monger, although I wish I was because that would be a pretty rad thing to tell people. Nevertheless, in my book a cheese plate is perfect for just about any get together because it goes great with wine, it’s beautiful, and it can be as simple or sophisticated as you like.
I prefer to keep it simple; I do have a 6 month old. Here are 5 basic steps I like to use to look like I know what I am doing without a ton of effort.
1.) Pick 5 different varieties that you want to try (3 is okay, 7 can be overwhelming, and odd numbers are just visually pleasing- 5 is the sweet spot) and get about one to two ounces per person, per cheese.
*Cheese is best enjoyed at room temperature; take the cheese out of the fridge about an hour before serving *
Wood blocks, boards and planks always make a nice presentation; a piece of slate or granite is great too and butcher paper can be a cost effective way to achieve a unique feel. Always consider what type of feel you want your plate to have, rustic, modern, french. Also, think in terms of height and layers when putting it all together.
Depending on the size of you party, don’t limit yourself just to a cheese board, you could style an entire table.
3.) Accessorize. Serve cheeses with a variety of accompaniments like bread, fruit, nuts, and honey; other foods can intensify and change the flavor of cheese, plus the different textures and colors can finish off the plate nicely. Try some toasted pecans or almonds, slices of pears or apples, add a honeycomb, some chutney, pair with prosciutto, maybe some cranberry-walnut bread, go with what’s in season. Again, have fun and just add what you think would be tasty.
*Make sure you have enough serving utensils for each cheese and accompaniment, the last thing you want is all the flavors mixing together. Never cube or slicing in advance, it will just dry out the cheese and a self serve style will make your life easier. *
4.) Label. Be sure to label the different varieties of cheese. It helps your guest be more involved and entertained. Its also fun to include a descriptions and origins. You can definitely get creative here. If you are using slate write on it with chalk to mark each cheese. Write directly on butcher paper, find a font you love and use Word to print labels on cardstock, the possibilities are really endless.
* If you have leftovers, I usually do not, but if you do, don’t store the cheese in Saran Wrap, it just leaves the cheese all sweaty and can cause a plastic-y taste. Parchment or wax paper is your best bet so it won’t dry out. I always put my cheeses in the vegetable drawer. *
Image Source: John Cullen
I am just scratching the surface here, if you want to really delve into it here are my go to resources. Click on the images to hop over to the sites.
iTunes Cheese Plate App
I hope this helps make your next get together even better, but mostly, I hope that your significant other likes cheese.