When I first moved to Charleston, the first thing I did was search for a job. I was lucky enough to find one almost immediately working at the local Whole Foods. When I was told I was going to be put in the specialty department, I was kind of nervous.
I knew NOTHING about cheese and felt like I was better suited to cook back in the kitchen instead. Little did I know, Cheese would become a HUGE part of my life.
Working in the specialty department for over 2 years now ( I currently work one day a week still), I have learned so much about cheese culture and the complexity of all different kinds of cheeses from all different countries.
The most popular question I get asked is how to make a simple cheese plate. So many want to put out a cheese plate but many are confused on how it’s done.
The good news is, it can be REALLY simple and you have a lot of options!
How to Make a Simple Cheese Plate
Choose Your Vessel:
Use or purchase a board, platter, plate, slate board (chalkboard) or even a small sheet pan to showcase the goods. If you make your own cheese board, make sure you seal it with food grade stain or cutting board oil.
Choose Your Eating Vehicle:
All types of cheese need some sort of vehicle to scoop, spread or crunch
Options include: baguette, ciabatta, bread sticks, crostini, multigrain crackers, water crackers, parmesan crisps, panzanella crackers, rain coast crisps, rustic bread crisps, flat bread crisps
Choose Your Cheese:
You want to choose a good mix of flavors, textures and different milks (goat, sheep, cow) when it comes to the cheese. Cheese can be broken down into a few different categories.
Purchase 3-4 cheeses total or one from each category depending on how many people you are serving. I like having a wild card option on the plate that has a distinct and different flavor to keep things interesting.
Soft: brie, soft goat cheese, camembert, mozzarella, brillat savarin, humboldt fog, robiola
Semi-Soft: gruyere, emmental, swiss, gouda, muenster, port salut, provelone, manchego, comte
Hard: parmesan, pecorino, asiago, aged cheddar, aged gouda
Blue: roquefort, valdeon, butermilk blue, gorgonzola
Wild Card: champagne cheddar, truffle gouda, cranberry or blueberry wenselydale, red dragon ale, lemon stilton, date & walnut cake, fig and almond cake
Choose Your Accoutrements:
There are SO many things you can put on a cheese plate as a complement to the cheese including:
- Fruit: raspberries, blueberries, fresh figs, grapes, pear, olives, pickled vegetables, blackberries
- Dried fruits: apricots, dried figs, raisins, golden raisins
- Nuts: almonds, marcona almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, quicos
- Spreads: fig jam, quince paste, honey, pepper jelly, dijon mustard
What is Charcuterie or a Charcuterie plate?
Making a Charcuterie Plate. charcuterie (shahr-cute-uh-ree) is a French word for smoked, dry-cured or cooked meats. This category includes favorites like bacon, ham, pâté, and sausages. SOURCE
Add 1-2 Charcuterie items on your cheese board such as:
Cheese Board Guidelines:
- Buy 1 Ounce of EACH cheese per person
- Serve your eating vehicles (crackers, baguette) on a separate plate or bowl
- Purchase a couple simple cheese knives so guests can snag a sliver off each piece of cheese
- Let cheese come to room temperature for optimal flavor and texture
- Label each cheese so guests can snap a picture or remember what they liked
- Don’t overcrowd the cheese board, leave room on the board to cut cheese
- Try and choose cheeses that are made with a variety of milks like goat, sheep and cows milk
Valerie Skinner is a Whole30 approved personal chef & recipe developer that bridges the gap between healthy eating and busy lives by providing simple healthy meals and recipes for you and your family.