When it comes to hosting a party, just about everyone likes cheese. Whenever there’s a platter of really good cheese, most people dig in and share their opinions about their favorites. Though creating a cheese platter might sound intimidating, it is a chance to be creative in the kitchen. And you can ensure a dramatic cheese course every time by having a few simple tricks up your sleeve.
Create an interesting experience for your guests without hanging over their shoulders, by avoiding repetition with your cheese selection. To ensure your assortment varies in flavor and texture, you can include aged, soft, firm and blue cheese, and always consult the cheese monger.
Next come the accompaniments, whether sweet, briny, chewy or crunchy. To compliment the fatty cheese, that makes your mouth slippery, you need to pair it with an astringent that causes the mouth to pucker up. Pair the cheese with fresh or dried fruits, preserves, spreads, cured meat, crackers and bread to balance out its texture and saltiness. For best pairings consult the cheesemonger or download these apps.
Assembling the platter gives you the chance to design an artistic centerpiece, make sure it looks festive and not over crowded. For a rustic look use a wooden block, and place a large green leaf on top.
Lay down your collection of cheese on a side, and try to break the monotony of having them all kept in large blocks, by crumbling one and cubing the other or having one sliced and fanned out, as for those kept in blocks, cut a wedge and place it on top of the block to create height. Now place the cheese on the platter spaced out, each on a side of the board, and array them clockwise, from soft to hard and end with the blue. Always serve your cheese just below room temperature.
Grapes are always a good idea; they are juicy, sweet and add color, cluster a large bunch in the middle of the plate and let it flow.
Your masterpiece is nearly done, now use the accompaniments as visual dividers between the clusters of cheese, and arrange them with care, as this will be the last step to a complete platter. Place the spreads and preserves in serving vessels, array the crackers, place the bread sticks in a small glass, curl the cured meat and pile up the fresh or dried fruits to create a dramatic colored visual height.
Now you can feast your eyes on the end result and enjoy every bite of it. And next time you stand in front of an entire wall of cheese in the grocery store, take the challenge and design the utmost cheese platter.