No, not a plate made of cheese but a plate laden with a delicious assortment of your favorite fromages! Cheese plates or platters are excellent for holiday entertaining — they require no cooking, take minutes to set up and cheeses, and the delights that are served with them, can be quite filling for your guests. It helps if you live in an area with wonderful cheese shops filled with knowledgeable and helpful cheesemongers who can advise you on putting together a great platter, but even if you’re making your selections from your grocery store cheese display, these tips will help you assemble a cheese plate that’s both beautiful and tasty.
How Many & How Much to Serve?
Three to five cheeses is a good starting point if cheese is one of many menu items, but if you’re hosting a large crowd or a cheese-tasting party — it’s safe to add one or two more to compensate. If you’re serving cheese as an appetizer or as part of a buffet, plan on one to two ounces of each cheese per guest. Purchase two to three ounces of each cheese per guest if cheese is the star of your menu.
Variety is important when serving cheese. Like wine, you should serve and eat what you enjoy, but a good rule of thumb is to include a soft cheese, a semi-hard cheese and a hard cheese. You can mix it up by country or region, like French or artisanal American cheeses, or organize your tray by the type of milk used to make the cheese — sheep, cow or goat.
How to Serve?
Most cheeses taste their best when served at room temperature. You can assemble your platter ahead of time, just remember to take it out of the fridge at least an hour before you plan to enjoy it.
What to Serve With It?
Contrary to what the Farmer in the Dell suggests, the cheese should not stand alone. Serve it with an assortment of sliced breads and crackers. Nuts and fresh fruits, like seedless grapes, whole strawberries or sliced melon, make excellent garnishes that add color to your plate and pair nicely with many cheeses. Thinly-sliced meats, like prosciutto and pancetta, make great accompaniments as do fruit compotes (our tart Cranberry Lime Compote is the perfect complement for sharp cheddars), jams and dried fruits.
Make a note of which cheeses you serve so you’ll be able to share the names of the cheeses with your guests if they find one they’d like to enjoy at home.