7.31.2011

How To Compose Impeccable Cheese Plates

Nibbling is my favorite way to eat. Whenever I go out to eat there are always at least 10 things I want off the menu. That is why a cheese plate is one of my most favorite things, something creamy, salty, sweet, gooey, toasty and fresh and I get to take one hundred tiny bites, and eat with my fingers mixing and matching as I go.

If you feel similarly, you should definitely learn how to make them. Or maybe you shouldn't because then you'll make them all the time and EAT them all the time. My grandma says if you eat too much cheese or drink too much milk you'll get a big butt. So I guess thats my story. Anyway, if you don't want to eat obscene amounts of delicious cheese, stop reading here because its about to get delicious. 

Here is an example of a cheese plate I recently made. It includes (clockwise) Mixed Olives, Grapes, Salami, Triple Cream St. Andre Brie, Fresh Pears, Honeycomb, Almonds with Dried Cranberries, Persimmons, Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates, Pomegranate, Spiced Walnuts, Homemade Pesto, Gorgonzola, Homemade Mustard, Plums, Dried Apricots, Aged Cheddar

Cowgirl Creamery @ SF Ferry Building
I know that the cheese counter can seem a little intimidating so here is a mini guide to help you compose your masterpiece. Building a cheese plate can be fairly simple if you are armed with the right information. That’s why this post is so chart-y.
I tend to think that there are five types of cheese; for the right balance of taste and texture, try to include at least one from each category.

Category
Characteristics
Examples
Mild
Soft and Creamy
Chevre, Brie, Cambert, Chaource, Robiola
Semi-firm
Subtle but Rich
Manchego, Cave-Aged Cheddar, Fontina, Saint-Nectaire
Super-Aged
Sharp and Nutty
Parmigiano, Asiago, Comte, Aged Gouda or Gruyere
Pungent
Stinky
Taleggio, Epoisses, Livarot, Langres
Blue
Intense
Gorgonzola, Stilton, Roquefort

I think that Aged Gouda is my personal favorite, but you can't go wrong with a triple cream brie, everyone loves that. Blue Cheese also has a special place in my heart especially if it is from Pt. Reyes and has that beautiful lines of ash through it, like this one

The cheese is only the beginning, I know it’s called a CHEESE plate, but the accouterments are what make it shine. It always adds a nice touch to point them out to your guests too.

Accompaniments
Bunches of Grapes
Baguette
Water Crackers
Honey Comb
Charcuterie -- 2 Dried or Cured Sausages
Chutney or Fruit Confiture

Super Fancy Upgrades
Apples or Pears
Figs
Peaches or Nectarines
Dried Fruits: Apricots and Cranberries
Cornichons
Mustard
Quince Paste
Pate
Walnut Bread
Spiced Nuts

The look of it plays a really big role, make sure to have a good balance of colors and textures, and keep everything about the same amount on the plate. Satisfy all the senses.

I always like to include a little something homemade. Like my bacon-wrapped-goat-cheese-stuffed-dates, or a little bruchestta topped with homemade pesto and peas, or roasted cauliflower and golden raisins.   

Remember to take the cheese out of the refrigerator and hour or two before. It has the fullest flavor at room temperature.
Now cheese is not cheap and putting together a perfect platter might get pricey. But they defiantly do set a festive mood. They also make everything seem fancier, even that $4.99 bottle of Malbec. I recommend them for early gatherings where you don’t want to serve dinner or for a quite night on the couch with your honey. But honestly I can’t think of a bad time to have one.

Point Reyes and Cowgirl Creamery are two of my favorite creameries.

6 comments:

  1. I love CHEESE and I love my Super Fancy Chef!! You're amazing!! Xxoo

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  2. i also loveee cheese and rhi u are amazing -ni

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  3. I knew I loved you!!! I love love love getting these when I am out! I have often been disappointed though in the lack of creativity! I love them at the wineries ( I don't drink, but I dig the cheese boards...) Awwww I love your blog!!!!

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  4. Amazing blog. My favorites are yours. Our fridge currently has Point Reyes Blue and Cowgirl Creamery- Mt. Tam! Yummo. We like to enjoy a nice stilton with fig jam. We also enjoy cheese plates as dessert with a nice port- Heitz Celler's. You are fortunate to have such incredible access to the freshest of the fresh in the Bay Area. Nothing like it in San Diego.

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  5. Who wouldn't want to have THE most amazingly eclectic, gorgeous, fancy girl ever to share fine wine and cheese in the most fantastic city in the world? You're my first choice (obviously ;) Anticipating the invite...


    Xoxo
    Cam

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  6. You fancy huh?? I wish that song was playing in the background as I read this! Cheese plate is def my fav post yet! But manchengo is the winning cheese :) I'm still waiting to find a little comment about me in the blog :)
    Xoxo steen

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