8 Tips for Serving the Perfect Cheese Platter
8 Tips for Serving the Perfect Cheese Platter
Serving a cheese platter is a sure way of adding a note of sophistication when hosting a party. Along with a nice bottle of wine, it gives them the opportunity to share and pick the food without the formality of a sit-down meal, but with all the airs and graces of a group of connoisseurs. But here’s a little secret that most of us know, deep down: it can neither be hard nor expensive to serve a great looking, classy cheeseboard!
With a little creativity and a daring attitude towards your food pairings, you can impress your guests with only a little effort. Here are 8 tips to making sure your cheeseboard makes an impact.
When to serve
Cheese platters can be served as a starter, main course or dessert, or at a side table for guests to pick at more informal parties. If it's a sit-down dinner party, it’s worth thinking about what other courses you plan to serve, as good cheese is best served on a clear palate.
Most cheeses are best served at room temperature. Whilst it’s always a good idea to keep your cheese in a refrigerator if you are keeping it for a long time, make sure you put it out to settle at least an hour before serving.
How much to serve
How much cheese should you serve? A lot, if your guests love cheese! But in all seriousness, think about when you intend to serve the cheese. If it’s as a starter you don’t want to overload your guests if you have something special planned for the main meal. Alternatively, if the cheese board is to be served at the end of the meal, your guests may not have room for great slabs of cheddar or blocks of creamy brie.
“If you are planning on holding a more informal party with a lot of people, allow each individual around 1 to 2 ounces of each cheese,” says Cheri Kelley, an author at Last Minute Writing and Researchpapersuk. ”Of course, you may also have ‘that one friend’ who cannot help themselves when it comes to cheese - adjust your portions accordingly!”
What to serve it on
Serving cheese is not only about how the cheese tastes, but how it is presented. Ideally, it should be served on a purpose made cheese board, but it can also be fun to try and mix it up a little. Have a look around your kitchen to see what can make a compelling visual impact. You might like to serve your cheese on a slate, pizza stone or breadboard. If all else fails, there is nothing wrong with serving cheese on a dinner plate, as long as you dress it well.
On a side note regarding utensils, remember that each cheese should be served with their own knife or other cutting implements. Cross contaminating different cheeses with an overused knife, especially those that are strong tasting, can desensitize your guest's palate and ruin the experience for them.
What kind of cheese to serve
Ideally, you should aim to serve between 3 and six different types of cheese. The joy of a cheese board is the wide variety of textures and tastes available. It may be a bit disappointing for your guests if you serve only strong cheddar, and likewise, if you serve only goats cheese.
There are three main types of cheese you can serve: Hard and strong such as cheddar, soft and mild like brie or camembert, or Blue, crumbly cheese like Roquefort or Stilton. This is not an exhaustive list but aim to mix it up, and try to vary your cheeses each time you make up a board.
Bread and Crackers
Once you’ve placed your cheese on your platter, ensure that you accompany them with some good, but unintrusive breads or crackers. Try to make sure that they are without any strong flavors or, if they do have flavors, they complement your cheese selection.
Crackers can be a great way of ensuring your cheeseboard has plenty of crunch without sacrificing the flavor of the cheeses.
Fruit, Pickles, and Chutneys
Fruits, pickles, and chutneys add a lovely bit of color and variance to your platter. There are some great fruits that go well with different cheeses. In fact, for every type of fruit, there is likely to be a corresponding cheese that complements it.
“Remember that the fruit should work as a balance to the cheese,” writes Anna Bolding, a contributor to Draftbeyond and Writinity. “ For instance, taking a strongly flavored fruit, such as cranberry, and pairing it with a delicately flavored cheese, such as a mild brie, means that the cheese is likely to be overpowered by the fruit. When displaying your fruit, keep it alongside the cheese it is meant to be paired with.”
You should also bear this in mind when offering pickles and chutneys. These are traditionally quite strongly flavored so make sure you have a decent strong cheese to pair them with.
There’s nothing more likely to change a simple platter into a hearty meal than adding some cured deli meats. As with fruit, you should ensure that each meat has a corresponding flavor on the board.
You can even theme each of the pairings in terms of nationality. A good smoked Bavarian ham is likely to go with a good smoked Bavarian Rauchkase, and similarly, a nice Bresaola is likely to go with a good slab of Mozzarella. Fold or roll your deli meats to save on space and offer a pleasing visual element to your platter.
No conversation about cheese is complete without talking a bit about what drinks should be paired with each cheese. There’s a lot to be said about wine and cheese pairings, and you can spend a lot of money and time going to classes to perfect the art. The fundamental rule underlying these classes is that you should not allow either to overpower the other.
But you don’t need to stop with just wine. There are plenty of good beer and cheese pairings as well, and for those who don’t drink alcohol, think about pairing fruit juices or tonics like ginger or bitter lemon.
mouth-watering to share?