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How To Make The Perfect Cheese Platter
Whether you're throwing a party and need the perfect cocktail-hour cheese platters or you're just prepping for your weekly wine-and-cheese night at home, knowing how to master the cheese platter is a skill worth cultivating. Everyone knows the power of cheese. Rich textures, unique origins, and a delectable array of choices make cheese platters one of the high notes of any party. Discover these simple steps to ensuring your cheese plates are the best your guests have ever had.
Don't Fear The Cheesemonger
It can be intimidating at first to talk to a cheesemonger if you've never done it before, but step right up and ask your questions. Many delis or high-end grocers have someone on hand who can talk to you about where each cheese is from or what to pair it with. This kind of expertise is invaluable, so enjoy learning about this culinary niche. If you have your own ideas after talking to a cheesemonger, you can still go for them, but knowledge is power--delicious power.
Pick The Perfect Mix
When selecting the mix of cheeses for your platter, you'll want to include a variety of hard, soft, aged or blue. You can also have fun picking cheese based on which animal's milk is used. For instance, if you selected a mix of cow, goat and sheep, you'd be sure to have a good array of flavors and textures. If you have guests, make sure you have at least one vegetarian cheese, since some cheeses are made with rennet, which isn't vegetarian. It's a good plan to have at least two cheeses that are familiar, even if one of them has an interesting origin, like a boutique dairy.
Make Sure You Have The Right Amount
To allow the palate to have room for each cheese, you probably want three to four selections. If you're having a big dinner party or keeping your cheese platters out throughout an event, you can go up to five. Any more than that can start to confuse guests or dilute some of the differences between the flavors.
Take Care of All The Cutting Before Serving
When you have beautiful cutting boards, you can help maintain the presentation throughout the evening by slicing the cheese before you serve it. You can also place cheese knives on the boards and let guests manage on their own.
Feel Free To Mix and Match Cutting Boards
Put rectangular boards with more organic shaped ones or round platters in different materials. By combining shapes and wood or ceramic textures, you create visual interest and cues that remind your guests which cheese platter they've already sampled.
Group Cheeses Together The Right Way
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to how to group your cheeses, but a few simple guidelines help make the most of different tastes. For instance, if you've chosen two powerful kinds of cheese, you might want to put them on a different platter to avoid them competing or overpowering each other. If you've selected a variety of milk, you might decide to put all the goat cheese on one platter.
Pick Fun Pairings That Don't Overpower The Cheese
Go for a selection of sweet and salty. Jarred bites, like olives, artichoke hearts or roasted peppers, are easy to serve with cocktail forks or toothpicks; while sweet condiments, like honey or chutneys, can be served with small spoons. Add nuts, dried fruits, or seasonal fresh fruit. Quince is a lovely choice; it's basically a fruit jelly that you can cut into slices.
Group Pairings With Their Intended Cheeses
Pairing cheese with accompaniments on the same platter makes it easy for guests to know what goes with what--without having to ask a million questions or feel out of place if they're new to cheese tasting. Put buttery cheeses with sweet fruits, like apples or pears. Nutty and hard cheeses go with tart fruit, like plums. Pecans pair with almost any cheese. Cheddar goes with walnuts, and blue cheese goes with cashews; but, again, none of these rules are hard and fast. Let guests have fun discovering new tastes.
Label The Cheeses
People can take pictures of the labels and refer back to them later or show off your fabulous party on social media.
Go Easy with Refrigeration
Cheese platters don't need refrigeration. Cheese is already a preserved food. In fact, too much cold will change the texture by sweating the fat out of the cheese. Simply enjoy and then fully wrap and seal whatever is left over after your party to store for later.