Everyone loves cheese.
Well, it could be safely said that almost everyone loves cheese. This, by extension, means that cheese-lovers simply adore a well-crafted cheese platter.
The venerable cheese platter, or cheese board, has been a culinary feature at many meals since the late 1800s. However, while serving cheese with meals is a tradition that goes back to ancient times, the origins of the modern “cheese platter” are a bit hard to pin down.
Cheese Courses on the Menu?
According to a publication from Melbourne Law School,
“The earliest recorded cheese course served at the end of a meal may have been on the 1870 menu of Café Voisin in Paris, which concluded with fromage Gruyere. A 1910 luncheon menu from the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, ‘en l’honneur de M. Escoffier’ concluded with a dish of camembert and figs. The earliest cheeseboard itself may have been served on the menu of a 1916 Paris luncheon, which concluded with a course of Roquefort, Port Salut and Gruyere.”
Perhaps equally popular, but not to be confused with a classic cheeseboard, is the French creation known as Charcuterie.
Charcuterie is a mixture of cured meats that highlight forms of preservation or flavor enhancement. Ideally, flavors are contrasted or paired to magnify enjoyment, a combination of texture and color are also used. It offers variety and is visually appealing when displayed on a platter, according to one source.
A cheese board, on the other hand, is traditionally a selection of cheeses arranged in an appealing presentation and often served after a main course and paired with appropriate fine wines.
3 Things to Consider for Simple Cheese Platter Ideas and DIY Gourmet Creation
Although it may be easy enough to simply arrange a few different cheeses onto a plate or cutting board and call it a “cheese platter” we believe that gourmet cheeses – and your guests – deserve a bit more élan!
With that in mind, here are some simple cheese platter ideas you can use to build your own gourmet cheese platter creation.
1. Cheese Platter Selection Tips
A cheese selection tip from Layers of Happiness notes,
Contrast: The main purpose of a good cheese board is to give your guests as wide a range of experience as possible. Bring a variety of textures to the party. Look for cheeses of contrasting texture — mix it up with soft & firm, creamy & crumbly, and even the type of cheese including cow, sheep, goat. Create a palette of contrasting flavors as well — sweet to pungent, sharp to mellow.
Be Choosy: If you’re on a budget, opt for one or two fantastic cheeses as opposed to four or five so-so options.
Amount: Three ounces of cheese per person is a good rule of thumb.
2. Cheese Platter Serving Tips
In addition to the selection of cheeses, presentation is also a critical component of a great cheeseboard.
The folks at Real Simple magazine offer up these serving tips for cheese platters,
Separate strong-smelling cheeses. If you want to serve a pungent, stinky-socks cheese, place it on a separate plate so it doesn’t overpower more delicate ones. Four or five choices are enough.
Set out a separate knife for each cheese, especially the soft varieties. Soft cheese spreads well with a butter knife; firm cheese might require a paring knife; and aged cheese often requires a cheese plane.
Label each cheese so you won’t need to recite the names all evening. If you like, also jot down a few poetic adjectives describing their flavors.
Also, when it comes to serving up your fantastic cheese platter, remember to remove the cheese from the refrigerator an hour before serving. Cold mutes the flavor of cheese. And, if possible, make a few cheese platters and accompanying edibles on several tables to avoid crowding by guests.
3. Cheese Platter Pairing Tips
In addition to cheese selection and serving, there is also the consideration of what other suitable items such as specialty foods should accompany your delectable cheese platter.
Some classic additions include:
- Crackers or good bread, like a baguette – or both
- Dried or fresh fruit
- A variety of nuts
- Spreads such as jam, a fancy mustard, or honey
- Wine, beer, or cocktails
And, finally, decide on whether you want your beautiful cheese platters to be a simple affair or a fancy treat.
According to an article from The Modern Proper, you can either,
Keep Your Cheese Board Simple: Buy some cheese and meat. Pair it with crackers, bread, nuts and some mustard, jam or honey. Finally, add a fruit that you already have on hand.
Or, Make It Fancy: Include all the basics, plus take the time to pick out a few special additions. We like to buy honeycomb and really good olives when making our boards a little bit more upscale.
The Napa Valley Gourmet Cheese Source for Your Simple Cheese Platter Ideas
Nestled in the heart of Calistoga, Cal Mart is conveniently located between Hwy 128 and the famed Silverado Trail, making it an easy-to-find destination for both locals and visitors.
At Cal Mart, we are quite proud of our large variety and selection of gourmet cheeses from around the world and from our own, local cheesemakers. Our pride shows in the way we stock and manage our own “fromagerie.”
And the variety is not limited to flavors and types of cheese.
We have a great selection of cheeses made from goat and sheep milk, as well as cow’s milk and mixtures. So, whether your taste in fromage leans towards hard cheeses, soft cheeses, mild, dry, and sharp, raw cheeses, or fancy cheeses such as blue mold or white mold cheeses, we have something that will fit your preference.
A family-owned and independent grocery store, Cal Mart continues to provide an enjoyable, unique, and memorable shopping experience for our customers for over half a century now.
And that is a big part of why we are known as “Napa Valley’s Finest Grocery.”
In addition to our gourmet cheese selection, we also offer a wide variety of quality wines and craft beers, along with specialty foods items that are unique and hard to find, and beautiful gift baskets. We invite you to make it a point to drop in and take time to explore all that we have to offer.
And while you’re here, please feel free to talk with our knowledgeable staff and then treat yourself to a cup of coffee or tea from our Coffee Bar. At Cal Mart, you will always find something that is unexpected, unusual, and uncommon!