Cheese makes everything (and we mean EVERYTHING) better. And that includes your appetizer selections at holiday gatherings this month.
No, no. We’re not talking about sliced American cheese and cheap crackers. We’re thinking local, gourmet, artisan cheeses that are perfectly paired with delightful accompaniments that are sure to tickle your taste buds in all the right places. That’s right—a cheese board.
This might sound cheesy (pun definitely intended), but there’s a right and a wrong way to set up your plate. From the organization to the selection, here’s how you can craft a beautiful and well-balanced cheese plate your guests will love.
1.Buy a variety. As with any recipe, texture is key. And when it comes to cheeses, you want a variety of textures. Vary the types of milk in the cheeses and include at least one blue cheese in the mix. But, in an attempt not to overwhelm your guests, keep the number of options small (no less than three and no more than five is best). Oh, and buy local whenever possible!
2. Let the cheese breathe. Cheese is a dairy product. So, you’d think it’s best to keep it refrigerated (yay basic food safety!). But there’s actually no need to keep cheese chilled out—it’s best served at room temperature. Set your platter out 30 to 40 minutes before your guests arrive for the ultimate tasting experience.
3.Step away from the knife. You’ve probably seen chefs shove a knife in the middle of a cheese wedge, call it art, and serve it. Not anymore. Cut the cheese on a separate board before you arrange it, and place it neatly on your serving plate. The only exception to the rule? Soft cheeses. Leave those babies whole.
4.Organize from mild to wild. Guide your guests through the cheeses and build the platter clockwise. It should be a visual experience as much as a tasting one.
5.Use the buddy system. The sidekicks are just as important as the cheese itself. Keep the crackers, salami, or apple slices (whatever is being paired with the cheese) next to it on the board.
- Pair Mt. Townsend Creamery’s Cirrus with apple slices for a nutty, buttery flavor and gooey texture that will soothe your palate.
- Combine Ferndale Farmstead’s Scamorza, a signature Italian cheese, with Olympia Provisions salami or Three Little Figs’ Tomato Tapas Jam for a bold before-dinner-bite.
- Match Cascadia Creamery’s Sleeping Beauty with apples or Olympia Provisions salami for a supple sharpness you’ll love to sink your teeth into.
- Team up Twin Sisters Creamery’s Whatcom Blue with The Puget Sound Jams honey for a melt-in-your-mouth taste that’s to die for.
- Place your favorite La Panzanella crackers in the middle to sample all of the cheeses with an artisanal crunch!
To learn more about the Dairy Farmers of Washington, visit www.wadairy.org.