Everyone loves a good cheese plate – it’s one of easiest ways to win over a crowd at a party. However, there IS a little more to a cheese plate than tossing some brie on a platter and butchering it with your plastic picnic knife (we’ve all done this). That’s right people, we’re old enough to know how to properly cut and present cheese as to not horrify the French.
According to the pros at The French Cheese Board in Manhattan’s Nolita neighborhood, it’s key that each person has a little taste of all parts of the cheese. For instance, you would never want to cut the cheese (try to hold back the giggles, here) in a way that someone only gets the center of the cheese and no rind. See below for detailed guidelines on cutting 😉
It’s alllll about quality, not quantity. You should never have more than 3-5 different cheeses on your cheese plate, and you should plan for 4 to 6 ounces per person (we’re leaning towards 6 ounces, just saying). Make sure to pick a variety of cheese styles – think some hard, some soft and different milk types. It’s definitely important to shop for the freshest cheese possible – we recommend popping into The French Cheese Board, and asking the staff for their suggestions. They can also help you with pairings – less Googling on your end, plus you’ll impress your friends with your newfound cheese knowledge.
It’s time to showcase your artistic skills! Technically, there is no wrong way to arrange the cheese on the plate. But, if you need a little help, you can stick to presenting the cheese in a circle, arranging clockwise from mildest to most pungent. Be sure your cheeses don’t touch and that you have enough room to cut them. It’s also a good idea to bring the cheese to room temperature before serving (so around 30 minutes prior).
You don’t have to stick to the typical bread or pita chips for your pairings – you can think outside the box! Fruits such as apples, pears, blackberries, figs and dried apricots are a wonderful complement for many types of cheeses. Nuts provide a healthy, salty option, and a drizzle of honey on pungent cheese adds a dash of sweetness. Feel free to include some toasts or crostinis, but remember, the cheese should be the star of the show, so select milder flavors. Let’s talk booze. In general, lighter cheese should be paired with lighter wines and a more robust cheese with a more robust wine – that’s easy enough to remember.