A while back I was asked to prepare appetizers for a house warming party. As I was working on my menu, I decided one item choice should be a cheese platter, because that sounded easy, quick and cheap.
Was I ever wrong!
When I did a little research to see what to serve with the cheese (besides crackers), I discovered what a great cheese platter should be. So here you go, some guidelines to make it easy and quick. When I figure out how to make it cheap, I’ll get back to you.
The rule of thumb is three or five different cheeses per platter. I’m not sure why only odd numbers, but if you want to serve an even number of cheeses, be a rebel, go for it, who’s going to know, or care?
Plan to serve three to four ounces of cheese per person. However, if the cheese platter is the only food being offered, such as for a wine tasting, consider three pounds for eight people, six pounds for 16 people or nine pounds for 24 people.
When choosing cheese, consider not only a variety of flavors, but textures as well. Include one from each of the following categories:
Soft: Constant Bliss, Camembert, Brillat-Savarin
Firm: Manchego, Mimolette, Parmigiano-Reggiano
Aged: Aged Cheddar, Comte, Goat Gouda
Blue: Gorgonzola Dolce, Valdeon, Stilton
As an alternate, you can choose your cheeses by the type of milk used (cow, goat, sheep), and/or from different countries.
Be sure to have available separate serving utensils for each cheese. For soft cheeses have a butter knife; firm cheese will require a paring knife; and for aged cheeses a cheese plane is best.
What you serve with the cheese, should create a contrast. Pick out some jarred condiments, such as, chutneys, sweet preserves, honey, mustards, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, and caramelized onions.
Also have a variety of breads and crackers that vary in taste and texture.
If you want to go all out, offer some other sweet and salty items; prosciutto, salami, candied nuts, dried figs, apples and pears.