Putting together a cheese platter can seem easy - throw a few cheesy treats on a wooden board and off you go - but if you want a truly sumptuous cheese platter that will turn heads and tantalise the tastebuds, then read on.
These quick tips are simple but effective and will yield massive results for your next dinner party, picnic, or solo cheese platter adventure.
1) Ripe & Ready
One of the cardinal sins of preparing a cheese platter is plating up when the cheese isn't ready. If you're taking your cheese straight from the fridge to the cheese board and wondering why it is firm and bland it's because you haven’t let the cheese rest at room temperature before serving. This is where patience is a virtue and will be what will take your platter from gouda to brielliant.
After you take your cheese out of the fridge, let it rest for 30-40 minutes before plating up. For soft cheeses like brie and camembert, take your thumb and gently push down in the centre, if it is soft to touch, then it's ready to go. If not, don't be impatient! Let it rest a little longer. Take into account the weather colder days a little more hot days a little les time is needed.
By preparing a little earlier and practicing some mindfulness you will elevate your cheese and experience the full flavour, texture and complexity. You'll even get a sexy cheese ooze. Is that worth waiting for? I think so.
2) Choose Your Vessel Wisely
Baguette, Ciabatta, Lavosh, Wafer Cracker, Water Cracker, Flavoured Cracker, vegetables or fruit. There is so much choice when it comes to finding the vessel that will safely deliver your cheese from plate to mouth and it is easy to get overwhelmed or drawn in by the more fanciful crackers.
In my experience... Simple is always better.
I believe the cheese is the hero on a cheese plate, and your choice of cracker or bread should be something that can let the cheese shine.
Opt for a thinner, wafer cracker for hard cheeses, or a thicker cracker like lavosh for softer cheeses - or to dip into a tub of goat curd (thin crackers can break when dipping!).
We love a nice crusty baguette or sourdough loaf with creamier cheeses, or Persian Feta. The crumb will absorb the cream or marinade, prolonging the deliciousness. For extra points throw the bread in the oven for five minutes so it is warm, but not too toasted, this way the cheese will melt ever so slightly when served.
Avoid flavoured crackers! These can confuse the palate and detract from the enjoyment of the cheese. Include fresh seasonal fruit and veg for a gluten free option.
Kris Lloyd Artisan Crackers look super pretty but retain their mild flavour, letting the cheese be the hero!
3) The Perfect Lineup
But what cheeses should I put on a cheese platter?
Every time I put together a cheeseboard I see it as a chance to be creative, to play with colour, flavours, and the dining experience. So really, there are no rules - let it be an expression of who you are as a cheese lover, but these quick tips can help with cheese selections:
- Texture: Play with different textures of cheese; an aged cheddar, a semi-hard cheese like Pompeii and a soft brie like our Patrice Triple Cream offers a diverse range of cheeses for people to try, and ensures they're not overwhelmed with one mouthfeel.
- Architecture: Taste is great, but what about looks? Take a bit of time to add a bit of architecture to your Cheese Platter. This can simply be done by the way you cut the cheese. Triangles on their side, smaller barrel cheese cut horizontally through the middle, larger wedges of hard cheese on their end so they stick up and give your cheese board a sky line architectural look. Just have a bit of fun, if it looks great take a pic and tag us in so we can share!
- We love the funk: Funky cheeses are divisive, for sure, but don't make that deter you from adding them to your cheese board, especially when entertaining. A stinky blue like Adele Blue or a mature washed rind like Tin Tin or Rusty may turn a few noses at first, but it could be the thing that turns someone onto funkier cheeses!
- Dippy-Ki-Yay: Adding a tub of Goat Curd, or slicing the top off an ultra-ripe Brie or Vigneron to reveal it's gooey centre next to a few lavosh crackers is a sure-fire way to have your cheeseboard devoured. Easy to eat, and oh so sexy, dipping a cracker or some veg in cheese like a low-fi fondue will immediately bring joy to the eater.
4) A Touch of Colour
A cheeseboard is a spectacle, and I think it should be treated as such. Remember to add some colour to your platter! Whether it is a ramekin of beetroot relish, or one of our Monet's, people eat with their eyes first. Some colour will have your guests eyeing your cheese platter from the door and beelining straight towards it.
5) Sneaky Pickle
Fermentation is now firmly in our culinary landscape, and I LOVE fermentation. So, I take any chance I can to sneak a sneaky pickle into my cheese platters. Whether it is an actual gherkin, or a pickled relish, olives or pickled peppers. Pickles are versatile and can be eaten on their own, or creatively combined with cheese.
In conclusion, a cheese platter should be FUN. It should be an exciting addition to any occasion where you can show your creativity and offer a delicious treat for yourself and others to enjoy. Follow the above guidelines, but let your imagination run wild!
~Kris Lloyd AM