The holidays may be over, but that doesn’t mean the celebrations have to be as well. In the spirit of continuous celebrations, today we’re talking cheese. That’s right, a full-blown investigation into how to create the perfect cheese plate for your next get-together:
As a general rule of thumb, plan to have an ounce or two of each type of cheese per person. Three to five different types of cheese should make an ample plate that allows each person to sample a nice variety. You may want to invest in some specialized cheese knives to make cutting and serving easy – the Dubost Cheese Knife Set provides a classic trio of cheese servers for a reasonable price.
Variety is the spice of life – especially when it comes to cheese! Here are a few cheese combinations you can try:
- Cheeses made from different milk types: cow, goat and sheep. Check out food writer Janet Fletcher’s CheeseLibrary for examples of each.
- Cheeses from different countries, such as France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.
- Cheeses that represent various regions of the U.S., for example Wisconsin Cheddar, Point Reyes Blue Cheese and Humboldt Fog.
- Cheeses of different textures: soft and creamy cheeses like Brie and Camemert, or hard and dry cheeses like Manchego and Pecorino Romano.
A well-planned cheese plate speaks for itself, so beyond selecting your cheeses and placing them on a simple cheese board, you don’t have to do much more in the way of presentation.
If you are not yet the proud owner of a cheese board, check out the Wüsthof Gourmet Wine and Cheese Set from Sur La Table. The set includes a bamboo board, cheese plane to create perfectly thin slices of cheese, cheese knife for slicing, and corkscrew for the all-important wine pairing. Williams Sonoma also sells a Slate Cheese Serving Board, complete with a soapstone pencil, which allows you to label each cheese for inquisitive guests. If you’re looking for a “higher-end” cheese board, take a look at the handsome Vintage French Cheese Board.
In terms of cheese placement, Joanna Goddard recommends placing your cheeses “in ‘clock order’—12 o’clock being the mildest and 11 o’clock being the strongest.’
The obvious pairing is wine, but beer has become an increasingly popular pairing beverage as well. Check out these American Cheese Society guides to pairing cheese and wine and pairing cheese and beer.
To accompany (but not overwhelm) the cheese, serve some light crackers or plain bread like a French baguette on the side. More flavorful breads, like sourdough or focaccia, are generally not recommended since they may interfere with the flavor of cheese, but there are some exceptions. For example, walnut bread pairs nicely with chèvre.
Some people also like to serve simple accompaniments like fresh or dried fruits, honey and nuts with their cheese plates.
The Shopilly Team
Photo credits: surlatable.com, williams-sonoma.com