Vanessa, also known as Chefdruck, is a foodie, writer and mom living in Chicago with her husband and four children. Whether you're planning a holiday dinner party or small impromptu get together with friends, Vanessa has easy menu ideas and helpful tips to minimize your time in the kitchen so you have more time to spend with your friends and family. Vanessa's personal blog can be found at chefdruck.com
The vast varieties of cheese and accoutrements that grocery stores now offer can make putting together a simple cheese spread seem intimidating and overwhelming. However, the key to putting together a cheese platter is keeping it simple. Here are some tips and suggestions to put together the perfect cheese platter for your next get-together or cocktail party.
1. Limit the number of options.
If you give people too many unfamiliar items to choose from, they will default to what they know, and you'll lose an opportunity to delight them with a new flavor combination. For a small get-together, limit your cheese platter to two to three cheeses. Also, select a few great tasting crackers that pair well with a variety of cheeses. Some of my favorites to use are Multi-grain Club crackers, Town House crackers and Toasteds Party Pack crackers.
2. Label the Cheeses
Write out the names, origin, and other important details you'd like your guests to know about the cheeses you're serving. You took the time to choose your cheeses, now help them see why. With labels, you'll make the unfamiliar more approachable.
3. Make it Beautiful
When food is beautiful, it becomes irresistible. A cheese platter is an opportunity to create something gorgeous. Use symmetry and colors to play off each other – a red jam off a creamy smear of goat cheese, or a golden square honeycomb on a dark slate serving dish next to a triangle of cheddar.
4. Get the Party Started
An untouched piece of cheese can be intimidating. Get your guests started by preparing a few crackers ahead of time and by cutting a few cheese slices. Show them the way and they will dive right in.
With the four tips above in mind, I put together two simple cheese plate suggestions for you to try out. The first features classic cheddar for the broadest appeal. The second platter is a bit more adventurous, focused on serving one type of variety.
For a classic and very approachable cheese platter, use a familiar variety, like cheddar. There are thousands of different cheddar varieties from all over the world, and you can provide two very different tastes that will surprise your friends. Compare Vermont cheddar to Wisconsin cheddar, or serve American cheddar with Irish cheddar.
Contrast the colors, and serve them with some sliced red apples, slivers of prosciutto, and some Multi-grain Club crackers or Town House crackers for a crispy buttery flavor. You'll have a gorgeous platter filled with contrasting reds, oranges, and creams, and exciting tastes to get your guests talking.
Limit your options even when hosting cheese lovers. Start with the sweet and savory taste of Toasteds crackers. Focus on one type of milk, such as goat, and offer three different types of goat cheese: a soft goat log with the texture of a mousse, a young molded cheese with a little more presence, and an aged goat cheese with a tangy yet creamy flavor.
Then, provide just one pairing for all three, a tart cherry jam that will bring out unique notes with each cheese. This is one cheese platter that will be talked about instead of just eaten mindlessly.
With these cheese platter tips and tricks, your next get-together or cocktail party will definitely impress! Be sure to check out more of our party recipes and ideas.