Ahhh the perfect cheese platter. Is anything better? It’s the simplest appetizer to put together (and requires absolutely zero skill in the kitchen). When done right it’s everyone’s favorite. I have a little formula to make sure all of the right boxes are checked, and it makes it easy to create variety each and every time:
- Meats: Choose 2-3. Thin-sliced prosciutto is non-negotiable in my opinion. other options include salami (so many varieties to choose from), capocollo, serrano.
- Something sweet: It’s always nice to have some sweet things to top cheese with. I like to choose 1-3 things from this category. Examples: Honey or a chunk of honeycomb if you can find it, dried fruit, grapes, apples, dates, jams
- Something salty: To create balance against your sweets, choose 1-3 things from this category. Examples: Olives, mustard, paté, pickled vegetables, nuts (my favorite are Marcona almonds), roasted chickpeas, tapenade.
- Carbs (duh): Choose 2-3 here. Fresh baguette, crackers, breadsticks…you know the drill.
- And finally…Cheeses: Be sure to have a variety of textures (firm, creamy, spreadable, crumbly) and flavors (mild, pungent, tangy, smooth). You want there to be an option for someone with a more adventurous palette, while also giving an option for someone who has simpler tastes. Also, consider the milk type (sheep, goat, cow) and try to choose a variety. Choose 3-4 kinds of cheese, one from each category below. I like to splurge on 1-2 kinds of cheese, then go slightly cheaper on 1-2. Costco is an amazing source if you have a lot of mouths to feed. If you have a good budget, head to a cheese shop or a boutique grocery store where you can sample and get 1:1 help. There are hundreds of types of cheeses, and dozens of ways that you could categorize them. This is simply a few examples and how I organize them in my brain:
Soft + Creamy: Triple Cream Brie (my fav), Burrata, Camembert,
Taleggio, Humboldt Fog
Firm: Aged cheddar, Gruyere, Gouda, Pecorino, Manchego
Crumbly: Chèvre, Feta
Pungent: Roquefort, Stilton, Gorgonzola
- Start by placing your cheeses on your board to give them proper real estate. Then, slowly scatter other items in neat piles around cheese.
- Serve cheeses at room temp. Take them out at least 30 minutes before guests arrive (you can keep them loosely covered).
- Always “start” the cheeses so that it looks inviting. You can create neat slices/cubes or more rustic crumbles. Add a small cheese knife for each type of cheese.
- Think seasonal. Choose items that go with the season, like berries or heirloom tomatoes in the summer or roasted squash in the winter.