Building the perfect cheese plate is an art. I definitely realize how pretentious that sounds… but I have a pretty strong passion for spreads. I think you should, too. Here’s some notes I find important to hit while putting together a platter for a get-together.
The cheese. Variety is key here. While flavors are up to your personal tastes, textures are seriously important. Be sure that your plate has at least three types of cheese with varying hardness. Include a soft (like a brie), a semi-hard (like a gouda), and a hard (like a cheddar). With this spread, I chose a Triple Cream Brie, a Cheddar & Gruyere Mélange, and a Creamy Toscano Cheese Soaked in Syrah. In my opinion, the more cheese the better, so feel free to get more than three types as long as there’s variety in texture.
The meat. Again, taste is a personal preference, but you need at least one type of meat to pair with your cheese. I usually grab either a salami (the Trader Joe’s Chianti Red Wine Artisan Salami is amazing) or a classic prosciutto. I went for it this time around and used both. The more options to pair together, the better.
The fruit. When it comes to choosing fruits, I go with a mix of fresh and dried. For fresh, my favorites are red grapes and green apples, both of which impart a crisp, cold texture that’s more than necessary. For dried, cranberries and figs have a sweet yet tart kick that pairs well with cheese.
The bread and crackers. Yet again, variety variety variety. While plain crackers can work, I usually opt for grains that are either flavored or filling. My favorite crackers are Trader Joe’s Fig & Olive Crisps or their Multigrain Pita Bite Crackers. I also will slice up a french baguette for a bread addition that’s filling and satisfying.
The extras. Because, why stop there? A few extra ingredients will take your cheese plate from boring to memorable. Some of my suggestions include candied pecans (so good with cheese), honey, fig butter, chutney, and olives. Basically anything goes with cheese when paired right, so don’t be afraid to experiment with flavors.
And don’t forget the wine. While each cheese has a specific wine that pairs best, going with one on the lighter side is your best bet when variety is involved. If you prefer white, I would go for a Chardonnay or a Sauvignon Blanc. If you’re a red fan, opt for a Pinot Noir that doesn’t overwhelm the palate. For this spread, I chose Miraval’s light rosé to cover the best of both worlds.
Last, but not least, the presentation. Take your time while cutting, prepping, and setting up all of your ingredients. Fan out cheese slices, crackers, and breads along the edge of your platter and find little jars or ramekins for your extras. Add a few sprigs of rosemary or thyme if available. There’s no shame in caring about presentation, so get artsy with it. The final product (and the pics) will be worth it.
Here’s a few items to grab while planning the perfect presentation: