When you visit one of our stores or give us a call, we are always happy to help you design a cheese plate that will fit your audience, tastes, and budget. Designing a cheese plate on your own can be a bit more stressful, but follow these general guidelines for consistently excellent results.
Choose Quality over Quantity
First things first: Don’t overwhelm your palate with too many flavors. We recommend constructing a cheese plate with at least three, but no more than six cheeses. Select a few styles of cheese, and focus on a selection that offers a variety of visual, aromatic and textural qualities.
Know Your Audience
Consider what your guests might appreciate. If your group is more conventional, select familiar styles such as Brie, Cheddar, or Gouda, and throw in one obscure cheese to push your audience’s boundaries a bit. If you’re serving an adventurous crowd, select cheeses with creative treatments such as Robiola Incavolata or with stronger aromas such as A Casinca.
Play with Pairings
Follow your instincts and think about a simple saying that often holds true: “If it grows together, it goes together.” We frequently pair cheeses and wines from the same origin with each other and look to the locals for accompaniment ideas. A young goat’s milk cheese from the Loire Valley like Valencay will go nicely with a crisp white wine from the same region, and we love pairing Jasper Hill’s Cabot Clothbound Cheddar with sliced apples from Vermont. From our trips to the South of France, we discovered that Basque Ardi Gasna, while delicious on its own, becomes a symphony of flavors when paired with the local Cherry Jam. The characteristics of terroir shine when multiple products from the region are coupled. If you’re interested in bucking convention and trying something new, take some inspiration from our blog post highlighting interesting pairing ideas.
Mix it Up
Variety is the spice of life. Unless your aim is to feature a single type of milk or a particular region, we like to show off a mix of styles on our cheese plates. We typically go with a variety of styles, milk types, flavor profiles and visual appearance. Our standard formulation of one goat, one sheep, one cow and one blue is what we use for many of the cheese samplers we sell online. A great trio might feature one goat’s milk cheese like Couronne de Touraine, one cow’s milk cheese like Comté Le Fort, and one sheep’s milk cheese like Pecorino Caggiano. Add-ons to this grouping could include either a washed-rind like U Bel Fiuritu or a blue like Bleu des Basques. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination!
Tell a Story
Food is often much more fun when you know a bit about the region from which it hails, how it’s made, and a bit about its history. We have strong relationships with many of our products’ makers and affineurs (agers), and we enjoy sharing their stories when we write up descriptions. Browse through our product descriptions in the shops or our online store, search content on our blog, or give us a call to chat about any of our products. You are always welcome to send us an email to let us know your questions, or your favorite pairing ideas!
This is the most important rule of putting together a cheese plate. Play around with new flavors and pairings. Ask your guests to bring their favorite cheese or beverage to add to your spread. Try a condiment you’ve never had before. Take notes. Take pictures. Post to social media and tag us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram! Whatever you do, have fun with it!