A great cheese platter is the key to any successful dinner party. Whether you are planning a feast for family or having a wine and cheese night with friends, the spread of cheeses chosen can truly dictate the coming meal.
Before you head to the store, it is smart to think ahead of what exactly you are looking for. Consider how many guests you will be having, the full menu of your dinner and platter aesthetics when brainstorming your options. A trusty fromagier at your local cheese shop can help in deciding between specific cheeses. Keep in mind that as long as cheeses are not pre-sliced, you should be able to ask for a taste of the various cheeses before selecting anything to purchase. Yum!
Photo Courtesy freethehops via Flickr/CC
From creamy goat to firm and nutty gouda, there sure is a lot to choose from at that counter. And once you do make your purchase, there is still the task of properly arranging your cheese platter. That's where we step in.
Read on for our five simple steps to creating a perfect cheese platter and be sure to let us know your cheeses of choice below!
1 - Choose an odd number of cheeses
Three to five cheeses should be appropriate depending on the size of your party. An odd number of cheeses on your platter is more visually pleasing than an even number, and allows for more cheese!
2- Choose a variety of textures and milk-types
Cheese is primarily made from goat, sheep and cow's milk, each of which lends to different textures and flavors. Aim to have at least one of each on your platter, and try to vary your cheeses from hard and sharp to soft and creamy.
3- Arrange your cheeses from mildest to strongest
Whether you arrange them in a circle or a row, placing your cheeses in order of their taste allows your guests to know the taste extremity before biting in. Be sure to leave enough room between the cheeses for guests to comfortably cut.
*Note: if the cheese is pre-cut, the rule on plate room becomes the opposite. In this case, you want to overstuff your plate, rather than leaving gaps.
4- Serve your cheese at room temperature
Cheese should be served at room temperature, allowing your guests to comfortably bite into each piece. Be sure to take the cheese out of the fridge about an hour before eating. Remember that runnier cheeses will start to melt when out of the fridge, so these can be taken out closer to your guests' arrival. Keep all cheeses wrapped until you are ready to serve.
5- Add appropriate accompaniments
The addition of some seasonal fruit, nuts, fruit breads and chutneys adds to both the presentation of your platter and the flavors of your cheese. Though many may enjoy eating their cheese on its own, adding a few extras allows all guests to indulge, and can heighten the flavor of the cheeses.
For more cheesy goodness, check out Secrets to the Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich.