Everyone loves a fully-loaded cheese platter, amiright?
I know this because no matter the theme of the party I’m hosting, there’s always a platter of cheese on the buffet. When a girlfriend comes over to catch up, I whip up a quick cheese plate. When Brian and I can’t decide what to eat, we’ll smorgasbord like a couple of mad kitchen geniuses, and make a cheese display for two that will make your mouth water. But you know what? It’s not such a hard task. That’s probably why I do it so often. I’m gasp a little lazy. And cheese is easy. You don’t have to cook it (I mean, melty cheese is great and all, but when your cheese drawer is loaded with the good stuff, you don’t cook that cheesy goodness; you eat that cheese on its own). You barely even have to cut it.
As someone who once worked for cheese, I’ve learned a thing or two about cheesemongering. And it’s high time I shared that knowledge with you. Below, I’ve listed the most important six things you should know about making a cheese plate at home.
- Always taste the cheese first. This step is crucial. If you have the opportunity to taste the cheese before you buy it, awesome. But if you order your groceries online, you probably won’t get to sample it before you buy. That’s okay. Just make sure you have yourself a little nibble of each offering before you serve your guests. Not only will this make you more knowledgeable when you’re talking about the flavors of the cheese, but also, you’re eating cheese. And what’s better than that?
- Choose a stylish platter. I have a vast selection of cheese plates and platters to choose from. Wood boards, slate platters, ceramic dishes, glass cheese plates…all of these can give your display serious street cred.
- Mix and match your cheese. Make sure you choose a variety of different cheeses, varying in color, shape, size, texture, and flavor for a full profile of cheesy goodness. For this plate, I chose Merlot BellaVitano (which is a cross between an aged cheddar and parmesan, and brined in merlot), Amablu Blue Cheese, Saint Andre Brie Triple Cream, and Organic Valley Grassmilk Raw Sharp Cheddar Cheese. I meant to add a manchego, which is a really gritty and delicious hard Spanish cheese that Brian loves, but I kept that one unopened in the cheese drawer with the Boar’s Head Monterey Jack with jalapeno. My bridesmaids are coming over today for dress shopping, and I want to have some cheese to feed them as well. (But seriously you guys. All of these cheeses were available online. Delivered. To my door.)
- Avoid cutting the cheese. I mean, if you’re hosting a big party and no one’s going to want to slice into your beautiful hunks of cheese, by all means, cut it RIGHT BEFORE you put it out. Do not buy pre-cut cheese. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Fresh cut cheese is a hundred times better than cheese that’s already been cut.
- Place the cheese out early. Did you know that cheese tastes its absolute best at room temperature? For the tastiest selection of cheeses, let them sit out for about a half hour to 45 minutes before serving. Just keep in mind that food safety rules say it’s okay to leave food out for four hours…so once you hit that four-hour mark, it’s time to bring out fresh cheese. But honestly, cheese wouldn’t sit out for four hours without getting gobbled up, right?
- Make the platter look full with accouterments. The best way to make a cheese plate look extra appetizing is to add dimension, color, and design by filling it to the brim with some of your favorite accompaniments. I love adding fresh fruit for the bright colors and tasty combination bites of sweet fruit and savory cheese. These strawberries were so stunning, I couldn’t even stop myself from eating a couple before I placed the rest on my platter. The weird square thing? That’s membrillo (quince paste), which is a sweet, fruit-flavored jelly-like substance made from the quince fruit. It looks bizarre but tastes amazing with sharp cheesy flavors. I like to sprinkle fresh nuts throughout a cheese platter as well to really fill it up (plus, I love nuts. Don’t you?).
These are the basic tricks I use to create decadent displays that I share with my friends and family when they visit our home. Sometimes, we even take these snacks on the road with us to bring to a party. Basically, cheese = friends. You’re welcome.
What tips do you have for making a killer cheese plate? Do you have any favorite cheeses or accouterments? Have you ever experienced the unadulterated joy of online grocery shopping?
This post was sponsored by the wonderful people at Peapod, a grocery delivery service that pretty much changed my life.