Nina’s Tips & Techniques: Crafting a Show-Stopping Cheese Plate
Why do my cheese plates always seem bland, boring, and uninspired? The cheeses sort of all taste the same to me…
Cheese peaks in flavor at room temperature. A big mistake many folks make is serving cheese straight out of the fridge. It’s the same concept as butter…have you ever eaten perfectly soft, room temperature, spreadable butter compared to cold, hard, refrigerated butter? The soft butter is far superior in buttery flavor! Same with cheese. The reason for this is because of the fat content in the cheese. Fat moves flavor around in your mouth – if those fats are cold, the heat of your mouth will only do so much to make them soluble. If your cheeses are all gooey and runny when you cut into them that means they are perfect! I recommend 2 hours sitting out on the counter before serving.
How do I choose a good assortment of cheeses?
I try to choose a variety of cheeses made with different milks – cow, sheep, goat. I also try to have at least one hard cheese, one soft cheese, one bloomed rind cheese, and one bleu. This offers variety in smell, texture, flavor, and visual appeal. If you’re making a small plate and only need a few cheeses, then just try to make sure to tick as many boxes as possible. Also, consider your personal preferences, and those of your guests. If no one likes bleu cheese, then definitely skip it!
What else do I put on a cheese plate? I feel like grapes are cliché.
Grapes are common, but they ARE a great accompaniment to cheese because of their tart and sweet properties. I like to serve cheese with bread or crackers, sliced apple or pear, grapes or berries, and nuts like Marcona almonds or salted Macadamia nuts 1-2 varieties of olives or tiny pickles are also great additions. Here’s my favorite add: a special condiment like a fig jam, a mustard, a fig cake, honey, or a quince paste. These unusual additions will make your cheese plate extra amazing! And finally, be creative with your presentation. Make a beautiful arrangement with the cheeses, fruits, nuts, and spreads that your guests will find irresistible!