Few foods are as versatile and universally appealing as cheese (who doesn’t love it?) and rare is the party that doesn’t include it in some way. Impress your guests by featuring cheese front and center on a beautiful homemade cheese platter you assembled yourself.
Aim for variety
A good cheese plate offers a variety of styles and milk types, and has something for everyone from beginners to connoisseurs. Three to five cheeses per platter is plenty, allowing 1-3 oz per person as an appetizer, and if the options are overwhelming consider narrowing the field by choosing a region and going all local, all French, or all American, etc.
Ask the Cheesemonger
When buying cheese it can be easy to get overwhelmed by all the choices but a good cheesemonger will be happy to offer samples and help you make selections based on your preferences, type of guests, and other food you plan to serve.
Accessorize with flavor
Serve a variety of accompaniments to enhance the cheeses’ flavors like bread and crackers, nuts, dry and fresh fruit, olives, and quince paste. The cheesemonger can help you decide which accompaniments will go best with your specific cheeses.
Arrange the Plate
Any kind of serving tray or platter will work but a wooden cutting board or piece of slate makes an especially beautiful presentation:
– Arrange the cheeses clockwise from mildest to strongest, and consider labeling them so people know what’s what
– Provide a separate knife for each cheese
– Although it’s best not to cube or pre-cut the cheeses ahead of time but sometimes it’s more convenient for hard varieties or very large groups of people