How to Assemble a Cheese Plate
Your fuss-free guide to a 5-minute starter.
Whether you have guests coming over (the last-minute kind) and really can’t be bothered to make a snack or starter from scratch, or just need a treat-yourself-treat to get through what seems an endless barrage of bad news— turn to the cheese plate. It’s so deliciously simple because all the work is pretty much done. All that’s really left to you is picking what to serve— a task that can be overwhelming, to say the least.
Luckily, our resident cheese expert has the know-how. The best part? Building a cheese plate isn’t the fussy, complicated task it’s been made out to be. Simply keep a few things in mind, and you’ll be primed to assemble any cheese plate for any occasion.
Pick Your Cheeses
This is where the fun begins! Stick with three to five cheeses tops. Think about different flavors, textures, and levels of funkiness — you want the board to be well-balanced. Go for one to two soft or creamy cheeses, a semi-soft or semi-firm, an aged cheese, and a blue. Think about switching up the type of milk as well — include at least one cow, one sheep, and one goat cheese on a board. This is a fun way to taste the difference in the flavor and richness of the milk from different animals. Overall you want to choose a balanced selection of funky, mellow, sharp, salty flavors and creamy, buttery, fudgy, crumbly, and firm textures.
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Serve at Room Temperature
The best part of putting together an amazing cheeseboard is that you get to try cool new cheeses. If you serve them too cold you could lose the richness in flavor that the cheesemaker intended. Remember to “let the cheese breathe” out of the packaging (plastic or cheese paper) while it’s coming to room temperature. It’s not a huge deal if you don’t have time, it’ll still be just as delightful, but try to remember if you have a moment because it does make a difference.
Set Up Your Board
A great way to guide your friends through your beautiful cheese plate (or create a journey for yourself) is to arrange your cheeses on the board in order of funkiness. Fresh, lactic cheeses like chevre or ricotta come first and those moldy, funky blues go last. And think about pre-cutting a few slices on the board: Nobody wants to be the one to cut the first piece!
Go Nuts for Extras
Cheese is extremely versatile and loves to be eaten side-by-side with different accoutrements. Choose a few different kinds of extras to go with differently flavored cheeses — just as they are balanced, so should be the add-ons. Sweeter jams, honey, and fresh fruit go great with the really salty, funky blues and creamy bries, while salted nuts, cured meats, and olives add a punch to nutty, sharp cheeses like gruyere or other aged specimens. Think about what kinds of carb you want to use as a vehicle for your cheeses — a bit of toasty bread can never go wrong if you’re fresh out of crackers.
Alcohol and cheese is an utterly classic combo — go for wine, cocktails, beer, cider, a whiskey neat, whatever you want! Obviously specific cheeses go with specific wines, but you really can’t go wrong pairing your favorite booze with your favorite cheeses.