Serving a great cheese platter during your dinner party, or as a buffet, will be a joy to the eye and palate of your guests.
Either as an appetizer, a course, or even before dessert, here is how to create the perfect cheese plate.
Choosing the cheeses
It is ideal to pick at least one cheese from each family.
- A semi-hard cheese (Cheddar, Parmesan, etc.)
- A soft cheese with bloomy rind (Camembert, etc.)
- A soft cheese with mixed rind (Neufchâtel, etc.)
- A soft cheese with washed rind (Gruyere. Muenster, etc.)
- A blue cheese (Roquefort, Gorgonzola, etc.)
You can also add to this mix a hard cheese, goat cheese, and fresh cheese.
Allow 200 grams (7 ounces) of cheese per person for a buffet-style, and between 80 and 100 grams (about 3 ounces) for dessert cheese.
After you’ve purchased the cheeses, keep them fresh, and leave them in their original packaging.
2 hours before serving, get the cheese out of the fridge.
1 hour before serving, unwrap them, and leave them at room temperature to allow their flavors to open up.
Dressing up the platter
Place the cheeses in a circle according to their tastes. From softer ones, down to the more full-bodied.
Diners can proceed the same way on their plates.
When serving, cut the first slice on each cheese, so your guests can continue the same.
For round and square cheeses, start from the center outward.
Rectangular cheeses are to be sliced.
You can also stick a little flag with each cheese’s name on it.
To accompany your cheeses, here are some basic dishes to bring with the platter.
- Bread: It neutralizes the flavors in a balanced way. Allow two or three varieties: a crusty white bread or a brown bread and bread with nuts (possibly one with raisins or figs).
- Syrups and jams: Products made in the same locales as the cheeses will naturally combine well. You can also add to your platter a lighter jam (apple-cinnamon or pear).
- Fruits and nuts: Depending on the season, you can select the appropriate fruits. At the end of the summer and fall, prefer apples and pears. In winter, dried fruits (with hazelnuts or walnuts) are perfect. You can also have year-long semi-dried fruits, like figs, prunes and raisins.
- Green salad: A simple, tossed green salad can also freshen the mouth and bring new flavors.
It isn’t easy to choose a single wine to accompany a particular cheese.
Contrary to popular belief, red wine is not always the best choice.
White wines actually are great pairings for most cheese. Therefore, the basic advice should be to go for a dry but aromatic white wine (Chardonnay variety, for example). It will reveal the cheeses’ flavors without overpowering and “crushing” them.