When the Chief Geek asked me if I was interested in writing a post about cheese plates, he barely had the question out before I had agreed to write. The staff at Red Envelope were offering us their infographic “Anatomy of a Cheese Plate” for use on our blog. Little did they know how eager we would be to use it!
For about six years in the late 1980s and early 1990s I worked at a little gourmet food shop that featured a wide selection of cheeses. Over the years I worked there, I began to help to create cheese platters. Next to making gift baskets, this was one of my favorite tasks. It was fun to select a number of different cheeses, to find ways to cut the hard cheeses into varied shapes, and to create an interesting yet practical presentation.
Styles have changed. While a platter with cubed cheeses still might have its purposes, the more aesthetically-pleasing cheese plate has become more popular not only for parties, but also on the menus of many restaurants. What you might not know is how easy it is to pull off an elegant cheese plate at home. This how-to infographic wisely suggests a variety of cheeses (soft, hard, blue, and goat) accompanied by breads, nuts, spreads, and fruits. I went shopping to see what I could put together.
This cheese board was just for me and my husband, so I cheated a little bit and selected only three cheeses. To cover the soft and blue varieties, I chose a soft blue, Cambozola, which is a French-style triple creme with veins of the Italian blue, Gorgonzola. With it I paired a plain log of goat cheese and some Spanish Manchego. It is good to have crackers or breads with different textures, shapes, and flavors. For this occasion I picked a seeded multi-grain cracker and some plain pita crackers. Then, to bring out the flavors of the cheeses, I served Marcona almonds with sea salt and rosemary, fig preserves, and dried mango, cranberries, and blueberries. The fig and Cambozola were particularly nice together.
The infographic’s formula worked really nicely. We ended up with a variety of textures and flavors that all played off one another nicely. If you needed a cheese plate for a larger group, I would suggest adding different styles of similar cheeses (a plain and a chèvre with herbs or a cheddar and a Gouda) or possibly a pâté. You could also make selections that would feature a particular region or even try an all goat cheese selection. Really, with cheese, you can’t go too far wrong. Using this basic formula, you are sure to have something to please almost everyone.