November 19, 2015
At Home with Friends


The Ultimate Cheese Platter

If you slice up some generic Swiss and put a hunk of orange cheddar on a plate, odds are no one will eat it and you’ll be eating lots of cheese omelettes and baking cheese bread to use up the leftovers. Nothing wrong with cheese omelettes or cheese bread, but wouldn’t you rather present a cheese platter that people rave about? Wouldn’t you rather create the Ultimate Cheese Platter? I would.

The Ultimate Cheese Platter is the one people can’t stop eating. That’s what I created for the 2nd Annual Apps & Alcohol Party. And by the way, I bought all my cheese at Costco. I have a few tricks for making it fabulous and here is what they are.

First, make sure you have a variety of cheeses. I don’t just mean orange and yellow. I mean include some cheese made from goat’s milk, sheep’s milk as well as cow’s milk. Include cheeses that are hard, like a Dubliner, and soft and spreadable. There should be a variety of flavors from mild to nutty, to rich, to pungent, to strong.

Second, cheese must be room temperature to have any flavor. Take the cheese out of the fridge at least 2 hours or more before the party and build your platter.

Third, think about balancing and complimenting flavors. Think about what tastes good with the cheeses you’re serving. I added walnuts, fresh figs, fig jam (available at my Amazon Affiliate Store) and of course grapes to my platter. You could also add sliced apples or pears, any dried fruits and any kind of nuts. The sweetness of the jam, the crunch of the nuts, the wetness of the grapes and the texture of the fresh figs all compliment the cheeses I chose.

Fourth, make your platter user friendly. To do this, you need to label the cheeses so people know what they’re eating. I have a set of porcelain labels (available at my Amazon Affiliate Store) but your could make flags using toothpicks. Also, have spreaders for the soft cheese, cut up some of the harder cheese in cubes and have a cheese slicer for the others. Of course, an abundance of crackers and sliced bread is a must.

No matter how enticing the platter looks, if there are no spreaders, no crackers, no bread and people don’t know what they are eating, you’ll have lots of leftovers.

Here are some of the cheeses I served and the ones I use all the time:

Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog (aged goat’s milk):

This is a rich, creamy goat cheese that has a blue line running through the center. The line is odorless, tasteless edible vegetable ash.

Cambozola (cow’s milk):

This is an indulgent combination of French ripened triple cream cheese and Italian gorgonzola. It’s the flavor of blue cheese mixed with triple cream.

Dubliner (cow’s milk):

This is an aged hard cheese similar in texture to a cheddar. It’s somewhat nutty and definitely mild. I cut slices for ease.

Manchego (sheep’s milk):

This is a hard cheese from Spain that has a nutty, tangy and slightly caramel flavor. I cut this in cubes.

Point Reyes (cow’s milk):

This is a creamy blue cheese with a sweet, fresh flavor with a medium punch of blue.

You could also add:

Jarlsberg (cow’s milk):

This is a semisoft cheese with a buttery mild flavor. It’s a great neutral and people know this. I prefer it melted, but it’s a safe choice for a platter.

White Cheddar (cow’s milk):

This is a hard cheese with a slightly crumbly texture. It gets sharper as it matures. It is never orange, but ranges from white to pale yellow.

Triple Creme Brie (cow’s milk):

This is a classic soft ripened cheese with an edible rind. It’s extra creamy in texture and great with dried fruit or jam, smooth and spreadable.

Be adventurous! Add something unusual and watch your guests devour it.