Make Cheese Plates Your Masterpiece
A good cheese plate is more than just a snacking board: it’s a reason to gather, a conversation-starter, a masterpiece. Knowing how to build a ravishing platter is an important skill for any cheese slut to master. And it’s a lot easier to put together an impressive spread than you think. Here’s how to build a cheese plate in 6 simple steps.
1. Choose 3 – 6 Kinds of Cheese
Any less is not enough, and any more is too much variety to remember what you’ve eaten. Aim for 1 – 2 oz per person, depending on how much other food is being served. You may also break this rule by making a one-cheese platter featuring especially indulgent centerpieces, like bark-wrapped cheeses.
2. Get A Variety of Styles
Variety is the spice of your cheese plate, so mix up your milk types, ages, and textures. Here’s a perfect formula: something old, something new, something stinky, and something blue. For example, plate up some fresh goat cheese, funky Taleggio, crunchy aged gouda, and crumbly Roquefort.
3. Add a Variety of Accompaniments
Plump up your platter with a mix of sweet, savory, juicy, and crunchy. Some of my favorite combinations include pecorino with almonds, brie with fig jam, and Alpine-styles with pickled Brussel sprouts. I like to pair 1 accompaniment per cheese, but you can also keep it simple with just 1 or 2 in total.
4. Bring Everything to Room Temperature
Refrigeration dulls the flavor and changes the texture of a cheese. To restore their vivacity, let soft cheeses sit out for 20 minutes, and firmer cheeses for up to an hour.
5. Cut That Cheese Just Before Serving
Cutting the cheese helps guide your guests and prevents the mangling of your curated specimens (see: scooped out brie rinds). You don’t have to completely slice up every cheese—just get them started, and let each one tell you how she wants to be cut. Cut small wheels like a pie, slice firm wedges thinly, and crumble the harder ones into snackable chunks.
6. Put Your Platter Together
Arrange the cheese from mild to strong with their respective pairings nearby. Keep anything runny like jam in a separate bowl to keep it from contaminating the cheese; you should be able to try the cheese naked before adding enhancements. Make sure to have a different serving knife for each cheese and utensil for each accompaniment that needs one. Finish it off with fresh herbs for a pop of color and fragrance.