The date’s booked. Your outfit’s ready. You’ve planned your menu out.
But something’s missing.
You want the date to be unforgettable. To be special. You need that scrumptious something that won’t confine you to the kitchen – you want to talk to your date after all. That’s why cheese platters were invented. I mean, who doesn’t love cheese?
Choosing Your Cheeses
Variety is the spice of life. Cheese is no different. Hard or soft. Goat, sheep or cow. There are literally thousands of different cheeses. Don’t get overwhelmed. You just need to stick to these basic rules.
- Don’t go wild. Use 3-5 different kinds of cheese. Make sure you’ve got one staple. I recommend a strong white cheddar or parmesan.
- Don’t play it safe. Throw in an exciting flavor, like a tangy goat’s cheese or a smoked Lincolnshire Poacher. See what you can find at your local deli. If in doubt, ask what’s good.
- Mix it up. Make sure you’ve got some variety. Use both hard and soft cheese. Include a couple of types of milk cheese. Brie or camembert are classics for a reason. While Manchego and Gouda really pack a punch.
- Age before beauty. Cheese, like wine, ages with time. A beautifully matured cheese will elevate a platter, adding a complexity of flavor.
How Much Cheese to Use
For an appetizer, around 2-3 oz. of cheese per person is a good rule of thumb. However, as a main, I would up the quantity to about 4-5 oz. of cheese per person, with extra helpings of fruits and veggies too.
If you think you’ve got too much, halve your cheeses and keep one piece in the fridge. Remember, less is more. Plus, a little leftover cheese never hurt anyone.
If you’ve got too little, spread the cheese out by cutting into smaller pieces. Add extra goodies to bulk out your board.
Adding the Extras
Crackers are the obvious addition but consider breadsticks or toasted baguette slices drizzled in olive oil for a Mediterranean vibe. If you want your platter to burst with color and flavor, pick a handful of fruits and vegetables. Great additions are grapes on the stem, fresh figs, apple or pear slices, apricots, olives, roasted red peppers or pickled veggies. Don’t forget to throw in a couple of types of nuts.
If you’ve got the money, add some charcuterie – you can’t go wrong with rich prosciutto or chorizo. For condiments, mustard is a must-have (go for a coarse grain); then add a relish or jam – spice up the board with a sweet habanero jam or a mango jalapeno chutney.
Arranging Your Platter
Take it step-by-step.
- Place the condiment bowls and cheeses. Display your cheese differently, e.g. sliced or whole.
- Place meats, bread and crackers. Bunch up the meats. Lay the crackers or bread in neat rows.
- Fill in space. Time to add the nuts and fruits in the gaps. Don’t pile up one item, scatter around the board.
- Add olives and fill your bowls.
- Garnish with greenery. Rocket or fresh basil will brighten it up.
Now you’re all set for a date night to remember. Bon Appetit!