When the holidays arrive there are tons of exciting delicacies that everyone can sink their teeth into. But one staple that seems to be welcome at everyone's table is the Cheese Platter or the Cheese Board. The variety of flavors and textures that come from cheese can be overwhelming. So, if you're trying to create your own cheese board you may be having a hard time deciding which combination will work best for your event. Here are a few suggestions on how to prepare the perfect cheese board.
Stick With The Basics:
While flavored and herb infused cheese may be delicious, cheese experts say they don't belong on a cheese platter. The additional flavors often overpower the more subtle flavors of some cheeses and with a platter where every little taste change makes a difference with the result that you'll have some very confused palates at your event. Those that already know how to prepare the perfect cheese board recommend that you stick with the basics and leave the flavored cheeses for another time.
Selecting Your Cheese:
Try and purchase a variety of flavors and textures. Mostly all cheeses belong in four different categories: soft, aged, blue, or firm. For the best variety we recommend choosing one from each group:
Aged: Aged Cheddar, Comte, Goat Gouda
Soft: Constant Bliss, Camembert, Brillat-Savarin
Firm: Manchego, Mimolette, Parmigiano-Reggiano
Blue: Gorgonzola Dolce, Valdeón, Stilton
What Type of Event Is It For?
Before you buy any cheese for your platter, determine what type of presentation you need. If it will be for a formal event or a casual get-together it will help you to decide which cheeses to choose. How many people will be served and your taste preferences will be factors that must be considered before you decide on which cheeses to buy.
How Much Cheese Is Enough?
We recommend buying:
- 3 pounds for 8 people
- 6 pounds for 16 people
- 9 pounds for 24 people
If cheese is one of many items being served, plan on buying 3 to 4 ounces per person.
Accompanying Your Cheese:
- Variety of good breads: We recommend a baguette of french, italian, or local fresh bread.
- Olives and/or Jarred condiments: Any olives go extremely well with cheese, as well as pickles, artichoke hearts, or roasted red peppers.
- Cured Meats: prosciutto, salami, or capicola work very well with cheese.
- Nuts: almonds, cashews, and peanuts mesh very well with cheese.
- Fruits: dried fruit such as apricots, and figs are great with cheese. Also any type of grape pairs extremely well.
Don't Overdo It:
Avoid the tendency to go overboard when it comes to your cheese platter. You may love cheese and are interested in sharing that enthusiasm with your friends but cheese makers often suggest that simplicity is the best. Rather than having an endless variety of cheeses on your platter it is best that you try to keep it simple and limit the number of selections to four or five at the most. More than that, it could overwhelm everyone's palate and they won't appreciate the variety of flavor any more than when you have only a few choices. Avoid adding in blended cheeses and stick with the standard, such as goat, sheep, and cow milk cheeses.
Finally, you want to make sure that your cheeses are presented in the right way. Your tendency is to put a block of cheese on the board with a knife and let the guests cut away what they want. However, that will literally destroy your presentation. Your guests will not be looking at how your platter looks, and soon it will look like someone actually killed the cow to get to the cheese. Your best bet is to present the cheese already sliced so that your guests know just how much you want them to take for each serving. Focus on maintaining the shape of the original brick so your cutting should be according to the shape of the original cheese block.
Those who have learned how to prepare the perfect cheese board advise that simplicity is an indication of style and elegance. If you're planning a cheese party and you're looking to impress your guests, take the time to speak to an expert and do it right. Anything less will be a distraction that could ruin the image of anyone who is just learning how to appreciate cheese.