Cheese plates are great! While I love them as a starter to any meal/party/event, I’ve started to love them as my main course. Cheese, fruit, chocolate, bread – what isn’t there to like?!
My first step is to go to Whole Foods or TJs and pick up some great cheese. Whole Foods has a little wicker basket in their cheese department that has “leftover” portions available for purchase. This is ideal for a dinner with your honey, where you don’t need 25 servings of Triple Cream Brie (because we both know it’s going to get consumed). Also, Trader Joe’s has really affordable artisan cheeses, and they constantly are coming out with amazing new products to try – Truffle cheese, Apricot cheese, Chocolate cheese… COME ON.
Once you’ve picked 5 or so cheese’s (I would pick a basic (with a fun twist) – such as a white cheddar, a soft/creamy – Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam (I’m addicted), a bold cheese such as a blue – Cambozola or St. Agur, a hard cheese – a great Parmesan (make sure its the real stuff – Parmigiano-Reggiano should be written all over the pin pricked rind), something fun and new – I’d gravitate towards a semifirm goat cheese (i.e. Barinaga Ranch Baserri).
Be warned cheese plates can get pricey… know you can always ask Whole Foods to cut portions of any of their cheeses for you. The Mt. Tam gets especially pricey so we always go with a half portion.
Pairing your cheeses with fun accompaniments is the best part! I always try to put out he following: fruit (apples/strawberries/pears), nuts (walnuts/Marcona almonds), honey, dark chocolate, quince, and jams or tapenades (red pepper/black olive). Don’t forget baguette – sourdough, french, etc. You can serve it sliced, or have small loafs available for diners to tear off their own portions.
And you can’t forget the wine… a wine flight would be fun… but you can’t go wrong with a light Pinot. We are obsessed with Testarossa’s line-up as of late.