Can I just admit something: I LOVE CHEESE. Love it, love it, love it. I don't know who invented cheese, but they should probably have their own national holiday. Cheese is sort of a big deal. I absolutely love getting a cheese platter as an appetizer when I'm out with friends so I've been itching to create my own little spreads for get togethers. Here are my top five tips for creating the perfect cheese platter.
1. Select cheeses with care. Your cheese selections are going to be the meat and bones of this appetizer so you don't necessarily want to just grab whatever. It's good to provide a selection of textures and flavors; try choosing cheeses that are aged, soft, firm and blue. You don't have to serve all categories but it can be fun to! Also, keep in mind your guests' preferences. Be sure to serve at least one familiar cheese. And note if anyone has special dietary needs, like serving cheese made from raw milk might not be a great idea if you plan to have pregnant guests. Be considerate, but don't be afraid to offer adventurous options too.
2. Label each cheese. This probably seems super obvious but I cannot tell you how much I wish more restaurants did this. If a guest tries a new-to-them cheese and they love it they will probably want to know what it is. Of course you can simply keep repeating the names all night if you wish, but labels can be a great solution. You can get really crafty with your labels or go as simple as tooth picks with printed slips of paper. I made these labels with ZERO artistic ability in about 3 minutes.
3. Accompaniments are a must! Half of the fun of trying new cheeses is trying them out paired with different flavors. Be sure to offer all sorts of accompaniments with your next cheese platter: crackers, baguette slices, jams, sauces, chutneys, berries, sliced fruit and don't forget the wine.
4. Set up your platter giving guests an idea how to pair the cheeses. You can see I set up little pairings—blue cheese with honey, Dubliner with sour apple, Colby jack with spicy mustard and goat's milk cheese with candied pecans. This will get apprehensive guests comfortable with the idea of pairing the cheese with accompaniments.
5. Serve it sliced and slightly warm. I like to go ahead and slice all hard cheeses (no need if the cheese is already soft enough for spreading). I feel this invites guests to go head and dig in! It's also good to set out the cheese 30 minutes to an hour before serving, cold temperatures mute flavors. If you think your cheese will set out during a whole evening of entertaining find a creative way to keep it semi covered; you could serve it in on a cake stand or two. You don't want cheeses to dry out before being consumed.
Have fun creating your own perfect cheese platter for your next party! xo. Emma