If you’re having a social gathering that requires you feed your guests (are there any social gatherings that don’t require food?), then look no further than the classic cheese platter! A gorgeous cheese display with fancy garnishes is the foundation of any good party spread, and putting it together doesn’t have to be a complicated procedure. We’re breaking it down into simple steps to make it easier for you to put together a stunning, effortless, and interactive appetizer.
Step one: Choose your platter
Cheese displays look great on large, rustic looking surfaces like wooden cutting boards or marble blocks. This is also a practical solution since there will be cheese knives involved (more on that to come!). Make sure you have enough space on the platter to create separate sections for each of the cheeses and garnishes that you select – you don’t want the different cheeses to intermingle and have an effect on their distinct flavors.
You’ll also need some labels for the different varieties of cheese (think: miniature chalkboard labels that you can reuse). Some other creative ideas include using butcher’s paper to display your cheeses and labeling them directly on the paper, or using a white ceramic platter and writing directly on it with a dry-erase marker. When you place your cheeses on your platter, make sure to arrange them clockwise, beginning with more mild cheeses and ending with stronger flavored selections.
Step two: Choose your cheeses
This may be the most fun you’ll have in the process! Select at least one cheese from each of the following 4 categories:
If you have any questions about which cheeses to select, you can talk to a professional in the dairy department of your local market – you may even have a chance to taste test the cheese before you buy! (Also make sure that you buy enough cheese: the rule of thumb is 1 – 1.5 ounces of each cheese per person.)
Step three: Cheese knives
If you don’t have a set of cheese knives, it’s acceptable to simply offer a butter knife for each cheese. However, if you have a set of cheese knives lying around, or received a set as a gift – now is the time to use them! Here are some basic guidelines for the different knives you’ll find packaged together in a cheese knife set:
Step four: Breads, crackers, and extras!
You’ll want to offer a variety of breads and crackers that won’t distract from the flavor of the cheeses, and you may want to have a few gluten-free options, as well! Add a selection of garnishes and snacks to complement your cheeses, such as cured meats (salami & prosciutto); dried and seasonal fruit (figs, apple slices, orange wedges, grapes); local honey and fruit preserves; roasted nuts; and spicy mustard or chutneys. Place your garnishes and crackers artfully around the cheeses, but allow the cheeses to play the starring role in your display.
Step five: Pour the wine and enjoy!
When you have a few cheese displays under your belt, start experimenting with wine pairings for your different cheese selections!