By request, I’m talking about cheese plates today. Forewarning, I take these way too seriously so get ready for a complete information overload! I can’t get enough of a good cheese plate. They are my absolute favorite thing to make and even better to eat. In this post I’ve rounded round up some cheese plates pics I had on my phone—these are ones I’ve made over the past year. I’ll also share some of the tips I use when making these!
The first thing to do is start a big serving plate. I have a complete weakness for good serving pieces. I know I should quit buying more and more serving pieces, but I honestly just can’t resist! Make sure the ones you’re looking at have some size to them if you’re making a platter for a party. It takes a fair amount of space to do what I’m showing in my pics below.
I’ll plan to do a separate post on my favorite serving pieces soon. But for now, I’ll share a few loves here—I use these various plates frequently:
- Canvas Abbesses Platter with Blue Rim
(also comes in other colors)
- Simple Dinnerware Serving Platter
- Square Dish in Sand
- White Marble Cheese Plate with Knife
- Walnut Cutting Board
- Slate Trays
Next, onto the party star, the cheese! When you are planning, think about about the tastes and textures of the cheese—you’ll want a variety. I typically look for this mix:
- Soft: I start with a triple creme, or soft goat—like Brie, Camembert, Bouchon, St. Andre, or Purple Haze. Many of the cheeses I mentioned come in a round disk shape which works well to visually anchor the center of a cheese plate. I usually use soft cheeses whole, or cut out just a bit to make it more inviting.
- Semi-Firm: Next I look for a semi-firm white cheese like Midnight Moon, Aged Cheddar, Manchego, Roncal, or any of the other Spanish cheeses. I cut these up into slices or cubes (more on that below).
- Hard: To add a pop of color, I go next for something with an orange color to it, typically an Aged Gouda, or a Colby. I also cut these into slices.
- Strong: Lastly, something stronger, like a Blue or Gorgonzola, any type. I typically use these whole as well.
When buying your cheese, think about the shape you’re buying and whether you plan to cut it. The softer cheeses are easy for guests to cut and spread with a spreader, so I usually leave those intact, but I like to cut up the semi-firm and hard cheeses so people don’t struggle with that on the cheese board. When I cut cheeses I try and get the cut really even so you can stack them all next to each other on the plate and it looks nice.
When you’re buying a cheese, think about how it’s going to cut. If it’s a wedge, like Manchego typically is, then it will need to be cut into triangle slices. If it comes in a block (rectangle shape) buy the most even-looking block you can, and then even I trim that down into a perfectly even block at home so I’m starting with something square on all sides, therefore yielding the best-shaped slices or cubes.
Jams, Spreads, Mustards & Honey
After the cheese, think about the accoutrements. Jams, compotes, mustards, and honeys are great to have on the board to enhance the cheese. Here are a few links for some of my favorites that you can easily order from Amazon:
A note on the honeycomb—it’s beautiful to look at but it’s hard to spread. I make a pool of regular honey first, and then open the honeycomb and put in just enough crumbled honeycomb pieces to add that nice texture.
I keep sets of little inexpensive dishes around for the jams, spreads, mustards, and honey—the kind you can find somewhere like Crate&Barrel or Amazon. I typically look for about the size you’d use to serve individual pads of butter. I’ve linked a good set I use a lot, here:
Fruit & Meats
Use fruit and meats like salamis and proscuitto to your advantage—it adds filler around the cheese, and gorgeous color.
I place the meats on right after the cheese as they are typically the item with a large mass on the plate. The proscuitto I either cut into half slices and bunch up and drop kind of casually on the plate, or I roll each slice up for a more polished look. For the salamis, it can be nice to alternate those with slices of cheese in between for some great texture.
For the fruits, my go-tos are grapes (red or green), apples (granny smith and honeycrisp), and pears (any type)—sliced thinly and evenly. I also like clementines, torn into pieces or quarters, and all berries—blueberries, raspberries, blackberrries and strawberries.
Nuts are a perfect cheese plate filler! I typically put these in at the very end to cover any remaining space on the plate. If you are traveling in the car taking your cheese plate to a party, or just want to keep them separated, then I use a small dish/bowl to hold these.
- Dishes for Nuts
(also really great for holding olives, since they are typically wet)
For the nuts, I use Marcona almonds, pistachios, and the Sahale nuts. Sahale nuts are SO good, if you haven’t had them, you’re missing out! Here are a few of my favorite mixes:
And for Marcona almonds, I use either the plain ones, or try some different versions I see in the cheese section at Whole Foods or Earthfare. This version from Trader Joe’s is really great, too:
Crackers & Bread
It’s nice to give people a selection of different crackers or breads—mix it up with some sliced traditional baguette (have the grocer slice it so it’s even), different kinds of crisps, and some traditional flatbread crackers. The flatbread crackers you see in the pictures here below are the best, and they are linked below—as well, they have them at several grocery stores.
Last but not least, it’s fun to make each cheese plate like you want it with add-ons:
- Cheese sticks are another go-to, as they add a pretty texture and are so yummy!
- Castelveltrano olives—the best olives on the planet. I always include those and typically a second option as well.
- Peppadew Peppters
- Artichoke quarters
- Dried Fruit—cranberries, cherries, and apricots
- Fresh Figs
Think about color when you are building the plate itself. Below, the alternating colors of the salami and provolone here add contrast and a nice striped texture. The marled orange and yellow cheese also adds nice texture. The fruit adds color—blues, purples, and reds to round out the plate, with the clementines bridging the gap to the color of the neutral cheeses. Fresh herbs add the final finishing touch!
Last but not least—make sure to let the cheese sit out at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before your guests arrive. This will allow the cheese to be at it’s peak since all the oils will get moving.
I’ll continue to share new cheese plates on the blog as I make them. And please let me know if you guys have any cheese-related recommendations I need to know about!
Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!
xx — BB