I do love my cheese. So when I discovered on Ancestry.com that I come from a long line of cheese makers from Switzerland, so not surprised. I could eat the good stuff all day long. And when I walk into a party and see a well-curated cheese plate, I stop and applaud (slowly like this). This year we're hosting Christmas brunch, and I'll be putting together the ultimate cheese plate for an appetizer. They're easy to do and everyone loves them - a hostesses favorite things. Here are my tips on what makes a really good cheese plate.......
Pick a board. I like old wooden cutting boards or chopping blocks, but you can also use white trays, slate, or chalkboard.
Pick your items. Cheese, of course. For a group of 4-6, I like to pick 3 or 4 cheese with one common denominator (same region / same style / same texture). For larger groups, throw in something unexpected like balsamic marinated mozzarella or brie with honey. Next, choose compliments such as nuts, dried fruit, arugula, currants, salami, or jam.
Smaller is better. I don't like overly crowded cheese plates. It's fine to set the cheese onto a bed of cranberries, but just don't let the cheeses touch each other. That's a cheese-mongering faux paus. If you're having a lot of guests, break it up. Set out a couple cheese plates.
Figure out the mechanics. Some cheeses are fine to cut and eat by hand, but some, especially soft cheeses like boursin are best with crackers or crostini. I like the idea of putting the bread separate, but a few toasted baguette slices look pretty nice on the plate, too. Set out small knives for slicing or spreading. Utilize ramekins or even shot glasses for separating honey, jam, mustard, or spreads. Even nuts in small bowls looks nice. Labels aren't 100% necessary but can be helpful (and fun)!
Images found via 1., 2., 3., 4., 5.