A well-assembled cheese plate can be the perfect appetizer before a casual dinner with friends or a perfect complement to the dessert course at a formal dinner. It's a great simple entertaining idea for a night that you'd like to have friends over, but your not up to being in the kitchen cooking. This is my process of how I determine what will be included on my platter: First, visual interest is very important to me, so when I buy cheese, I select a wide range of flavors and textures (from creamy and buttery to salty) in a mix of shapes and colors. So as to avoid overwhelming my guests and my cheese board arrangement, I typically keep my selections down to three but will increase it to four at the most if I know that one of my guests has a preference of cheese that I usually don't include in the mix.
1. Serving Equipment:
It varies on my crowd and whether or not it’s going to be a formal or casual affair. It could be a slate, marble or wooden board. But any of these accommodate three to four cheeses perfectly, depending on the size of the cheese.
2. Cheese Assortment:
Hard Cheese: Aged Gouda, Manchego or Jarlsberg cheese
Soft Cheese: Brie (one of my faves!). This time around, I went with Boursin cheese (the garlic and fine herb variety) in lieu of my usual Gorgonzola and/or Goat cheese.
3. Style presentation:
Since you eat with your eyes first, a well-assembled cheese board is imperative. I place the cheese first, each one with its own knife. Then I start to build the accompaniments around the cheese. I love the look of a mix of grape clusters, dried apricots, pomegranates, strawberries for a pop of red, toasted walnuts (that I tossed with a drizzle of maple syrup, extra virgin olive oil, couple of pinches of smoked truffle salt and smoked paprika – toasted in the oven on 400 degrees for 12 minutes), crispy crackers, apricot preserves, cured meats and a mix of green and black olives. Finishing touches like sprigs of herbs and pomegranate seeds sprinkled on top of some cheese blocks will make your plate that much more attractive.
P.S. Find more ideas here.