If you have never socialized around a cheese plate, this might be a start in the right direction.
This perfect cheese plate will have to have a few staples to make your guests happy to sit down and snack on.
For a cheese plate, you will need cheese (of course), nuts, cold cut meats, and crackers; you want these to play off each other and pair well.
You want your plate to flow well and make it easy to grab and snack with great flavor
Cheese expert Sharon Martinez from Challenge Dairy stated that the most important part of a cheese plate is incorporating the different textures of cheese such as soft and semi-soft.
Choose your cheeses with different textures. Go for a soft and creamy cheese such as Imported Brie (or a similar artisan-style cheese made in our area); a firmer style cheese such as cheddar (preferably farmhouse), gouda or Gruyère; and a hard grating-style cheese like Parmigiano-Reggiano.
“You usually only pick three cheeses due to cost as there are other items such as fresh baguettes, fruit, fig spreads, and nuts to complete the plate,” said Martinez.
Here is a guideline to make a simple but great cheese plate with three cheeses and a few pairing items. There will be a soft cheese, semi-soft, and aged hard cheese.
Soft cheeses are typically young cheeses that have been aged two months or less.
The soft cheese would be a goat cheese. Goat cheese is a fresh cheese that has been aged from 10 days to 10 weeks, which is considered very short aging. This cheese is fresh and soft and has a sweet and delicate taste with undertones of acid and salt.
You can add a cracker to spread the soft goat cheese on with some honey.
Typically semi-soft cheeses have been aged a little bit more than soft cheese and have less moisture. As cheese ages, its moisture level decreases and the cheese becomes more firm.
The semi-soft cheese would be a nice Boschetto truffle cheese. It is aged for two months and is a blend of sheep’s milk, cow’s milk, and truffles. It has a blend of fresh and rustic flavors which makes for an addictive delicacy that’s sweet and savory. Combine cold cuts like salami with the Boschetto for that savory and salty flavor.
Hard cheeses, the most aged cheeses, are rich in flavor and dry in texture. These are the cheeses that are firm enough to grate.
The hard cheese will be a nice aged gouda, that has been aged for over 18 months. With this age, you get a firm texture with some crystallization, a deep ochre interior, and notes of toasted walnuts and a brown-butter finish.
Enjoy the aged hard Gouda with some nuts like almonds or walnuts to bring out the nutty flavors.
“People love to try farmstead cheese. Local cheeses have excellent texture and flavor and they can buy them in their local cheese shop,” said Martinez. “Especially those who have money really want to impress their friends with new and exciting cheeses they have tried but cost a lot.”
A good cheese plate does not have to be expensive with the right combination of cheeses and some creativity.