Cheese 101: How To Make The Perfect Cheese Platter
I can't tell you how many Cheese Platters we do in a year at Nadine Hughes Catering - it's more than 100 and less than 1,000. I've created them on boards, platters, boxes, tables, indoors, outdoors, small two-person platters, and 24 foot long sharing ones and even cheese wedding cakes!
Not only are cheese platters ideal because they require no cooking but they are also a stunning visual addition to any party. Creating the perfect cheese platter is a lesson in shapes, textures and colour. Follow these simple steps and you’ll be sure to please your guests!
- Select a variety of shapes and colours – three kinds of cheese per platter is ideal
- Allow about 20-30 grams per cheese per person
- Provide one cheese knife for each cheese to avoid mixing the flavours
- Avoid highly salted or flavoured crackers and breads that will overpower or compete with the flavours of the cheeses
- Cheese should be served at room temperature to develop full flavour so remove it from the fridge up to two hours before serving. Keep it covered with a slightly damp cloth or plastic wrap.
- Choose complementary partners such as sourdough with Vintage Cheddar or fruit cheese; fruit or nut bread with Brie or Camembert; crusty baguette with blue vein or fresh curd cheese
- Add fresh fruit, dried fruit and different jams and jellies to compliment the richness of the cheese
- Go to a cheese shop and ask which cheeses are ready to serve – ask to taste before buying!
Want to Know More About Your Cheeses?
White Mould Cheese:
- Types: Brie, Camembert, Double Brie, Trip Cream Cheese (also known as White Rind Cheese)
- Characteristics: Develops buttery, flowing centre and ‘mushroomy’ aroma with age
- Partner Wine: Chardonnay, sparkling, full-bodied dry reds, fortified wines
Fresh Unripened Cheese
- Types: Cottage Cheese, Cream Cheese, Ricotta, Mascarpone, Feta, Fresh Curd, Quark, Fromage Blanc
- Characteristics: Delicate milky flavour with soft, moist, spongy body
- Partner Wine: Sparkling, aromatic whites, medium-bodied reds, dessert wines
Stretched Curd Cheese
- Types - Fresh: Bocconcini, Treccia, Fior de Latte
- Types – Matured: Mozzarella, Provolone, Pizza Cheese
- Characteristics: Fresh types are moist and delicate in flavour while matured types are prized for their ‘stretch’ when cooked.
- Partner Wine: Sparkling, aromatic whites, medium-bodied reds.
- Types: Made in classic styles (eg. Danish Blue, Gorgonzola) but sold by brand name
- Characteristics: Soft cheese with veins of blue mould. Strong, tangy flavour with a salty finish.
- Partner Wine: Dessert wines, fortified wines, aromatic/fruity whites with a sweet finish.
Washed Rind Cheese
- Types: Semi-soft Washed Rind, Wine Washed Rind
- Characteristics: Soft cheese that has been ‘washed’ during ageing to develop flavour. Sweet tasting with a pungent aroma.
- Partner Wine: Dessert wines, fortified wines, medium-bodied reds, sparkling reds. Also good with beer.
- Types: Parmesan, Pecorino, Romano, Pepato
- Characteristics: Sharp, robust flavour with a piquant finish and grainy finish.
- Partner Wine: Full-bodied dry whites, full-bodied dry reds, fortified wines. Sparkling wines also make a great match as the acidity contrasts well with the texture of the cheese.
Cheddar and Cheddar Styles
- Types: Mild Cheddar (aged 3 months), Matured/Tasty (aged 3-12 months), Vintage (aged over 12 months), Processed, Colby, Red Leicester, Cheshire, Lancaster.
- Characteristics: Semi-hard cheese with flavours varying from bland and butter (mild) to the sharp bite of Vintage.
- Partner Wine: Full-bodied whites, full-bodied reds, dessert wines, fortified wines.
- Types: Edam, Emmenthal, Fontina, Gouda, Gruyere, Havarti, Swiss-style, Raclette, Tilsit
- Characteristics: Cheese with ‘eyes’ or holes that are produced by carbon dioxide. Slightly sweet, subtle piquant flavour.
- Partner Wine: Full-bodied dry whites, medium-bodied reds, dessert wines, fortified wines.