Amount to Purchase
Please note that you will need to buy more cheese if you are serving it as an hors d'oeuvre at a cocktail reception or on a buffet, as oppose to cheeses that you will slice and serve individually. I recommend you follow these guidelines to determine how much cheese you will need per person:
Hors d'Oeuvres (before dinner) 4-6 oz.
Hors d'Oeuvres (cocktail party) 5-6 oz.
Appetizer Course 3-4 oz.
Main Course 5-6 oz.
Cheese Plate 2-3 oz.
Select 3-6 cheeses that vary in shape, size and color for a visually interesting platter.
(I might choose Selle-sur-Cher, Zamorano, Epoisse, Gruyere, and Shopshire Blue!)
Choose cheeses from soft and runny to firm and crumbly, for example a ripe and runny Camembert, Fontina val d'Aosta, Aged Gouda and Beenleigh Blue would create nice textural contrast on a cheese platter.
Select cheeses made from the three main milk types: goat, sheep and cow. Redwood Hill Crottin, Vermont Shepherd and Great Hill Blue are some great American choices!
Select cheeses that have different flavor profiles from mild to strong.
You might choose to develop a theme around your presentation-serve all firm mountain cheeses, all blues, or cheeses from the same region or by the same cheesemaker. A goat tasting is another great theme-include goat's milk cheeses from several countries, varying in texture and pungency.
When serving several cheeses at once one wine will rarely complement all of them. I recommend a serving 2 varietals, a sauvignon blanc or pinot gris, and a medium bodied cabernet or pinot noir red wine. For more detailed information about pairings see our tip-- Wine and Cheese Pairings.
Accompaniments and Condiments
I often serve cheese very simply with little fuss. I have always loved to let the cheeses stand alone and display their natural beauty. But when I'm in the mood for a more elaborate presentation, I add fresh, seasonal fruits, nuts, dried fig cake (my favorite), some membrillo, or perhaps a chutney (to go with a fine English cheddar). The wine gellies that we import from Italy add an elegant accent to any cheese platter or plate. Crusty Bread, fresh figs and medjool dates are simple additions that complement all cheese types. A selection of olives, roasted peppers and tomatoes are a good match for fresh goat's cheeses.
Take a look at the Accompaniments we offer and try some for yourself!
Choose your surface:
A Beautiful Platter, Rustic Board or Earthy Marble or Stone
Make sure you have a large enough surface to fit cheeses comfortably with enough space between them so your guests can cut them easily.
You can also mix up different size platters and surfaces for your display, one plate for each type of milk, for example.
Line the platter with greens such as fig, grape or fern leaves. The natural beauty of the cheese is all you need.
Serve fruit and condiments in separate trays and bowls. See our accompaniments for specific ideas!
Make sure you remove your cheeses from the refrigerator in time for them to come to room temperature, approximately 1-1/2 hours, depending on the temperature of your room. Keep the cheeses wrapped until ready to serve.
Use a different knife or spoon (for the runny types!) for each cheese. I find that butter knives are a good choice because they don't take up a whole lot of space on your platter.
If you would like to slice cheeses for your guests in advance, here are some techniques and guidelines:
Round cheeses, such as Camembert, Reblochon or Pierre Robert should be cut in half and then into small triangle wedges.
Larger firm cheeses should be cut into wedges and placed on their side to be sliced.
Square cheeses like Pont L'Eveque, Pave d'Auge and Taleggio can be cut diagonally and then into smaller triangle wedges.
Soft, runny cheeses like Flada can be left in their box and guests can use a spoon to scoop the soft cheese onto a cocktail plate or a slice of baguette. To serve a whole soft Spanish cheese such as the Torta del Casar or Serena, make a circular lid by cutting off the top and serving the cheese in its own "bowl" with a spoon. Save the lid and use to cover any left over cheese.
Use a sharp chef's knife for semi-soft to hard cheeses.
Use a thin utility knife for softer cheeses. Dip it in warm water and wipe before each cut.
You can also use a traditional tool such as a cheese wire.
Avoid cutting cheeses hours in advance because their flavors are at their peak when they are first sliced!
Most importantly, have fun and enjoy all of the flavors, textures and aromas that Artisanal Cheeses have to offer!