When planning a cheese platter, it is important to ensure that you have a selection of cheeses from which your guests can choose.
First you want a selection of textures. A platter made up of all hard mountain cheeses is…well…boring. Don’t do that. Just as a platter of all soft brie-like cheeses would seem a bit bland (and this is coming from someone who can never get enough brie!). Good rule of thumb is to choose one brie, one hard, one goat’s cheese and one blue. Then perhaps throw another of your favorites in there for good measure.
You also want a selection of cheeses made from different kinds of milk. People seem to be a lot more savvy these days and know whether a cheese is goat’s milk or cow’s milk. Here is France we also get a lot of sheep’s milk cheese. A nice mixture of these kinds of cheeses will help naturally diversify what your platter looks like.
Finally, you want the platter to look appealing. For me that means a mixture of shapes and colors. I know I am spoiled here in France with the variety of beautiful cheeses. However, if you take a good look at the cheese case in your supermarket or at your local deli, you will be able to spot a nice variety of cheeses from the US as well (e.g., sharp orange cheddar, white crumbly goat’s cheese log, herb-flecked round of boursin, square of havarti).
Once you have your cheese selected, it is time to fill in the gaps with some other tasty treats that complement cheese. Some great options are fresh fruit like red or green grapes, dried fruits such as apricots, dates or figs and then depending on the cheeses you serve, a small dollop of a fig or black cherry jam can be a treat – particularly with hard cheeses such as manchego or a French basque cheese like ossau-iraty.
Last touch that doesn’t cost much (or anything if you grow herbs) is some fresh greenery such as bay leaves or in this recipe I used sage leaves. The pop of color and freshness helps the platter stand out.
Don’t forget a basket of crackers or fresh baguette slices on the side.
Here is a video of how I made my own cheese platter: