It’s Friday night and I don’t know about you but I am having friends over for some socializing, light refreshments and perhaps a game or two. Tonight I will be setting out a cheese board with some crackers and a few nibbles and I thought I would let you in on how I make this quick, simply and lovely snack for casual gatherings.
Cheese plates are so easy and can be made with any budget! There are lots of resources out there about building the perfect arrangement with strong guidelines and advice but I like to keep it simple and fun so I play with contrasting consistency and flavors. It makes it entertaining for me and for the tasters, my guests. Any fancy grocery store will have a cheese counter with people eager to help so if you are intimidated let their knowledge be your guide! It’s so fun to get advice and even a little sample while you chat about cheese with people who make it their job. These places, a lot of times, have little blurbs accompanying the cheese and that helps me make new choices, which I love! The most important thing to remember is that you can’t fail! I mean it’s cheese, it’s just delicious! So be brave, be bold, and try something new!
For this party I have set out a selection of crackers to go with my cheeses, I always like to choose one gluten free option for those who have intolerance. I have also set out some plain sea salt crackers so that the bold cheese really shines and some fun rye crackers with fig and olives to give that burst of flavor and some excitement for the more mellow cheeses. Along with the crackers I have several nibbles, some almonds, a few sweet cherry peppers, and a lovely olive called picholine, they are so thick and full of flavor!
Now for the cheese plate! When I choose cheeses I like to choose a selection of varying intensities and textures. I normally follow this guideline; one mild, one soft, one semi, one hard, one bold. Sometimes I choose less options by making one cheese do double duty like tonight I am serving a mild and creamy triple cream. For the get together tonight I plated the following;
- Goat cheese wrapped around roasted pears- this one is new to me and looked delicious and so autumnal!
- Smokey Blue- I love a blue cheese for its depth and tang so I normally include one on my cheese boards.
- Triple Cream- a crowd pleaser if there ever was one, it’s like brie, times three!
- Truffel Cheese- I tried this at a party not too long ago and feel in love…such divine flavor!
- Manchego- this is my hard cheese for the plate tonight it is a goat cheese from spain.
I cannot resist a dried meat to save my life and tonight I am plating two along side my cheeses, a spicy Italian soppressata from San Francisco and a salami covered in Herbs de Provence..yes please!
For plating I use a nice big cutting board and arrange the cheeses, meats along with any sides or spreads that are to accompany the cheese. I also have a few small dishes for nibbles and crackers on the side~ nothing beats a good serving dish!
On the side for spreading I have a fig compote that I made last night along a slow baked pork for pulled pork sandwiches…it is insane~ the flavor blending of caramelized onions with the roasted figs and that hint of luscious pork, holy moly! I will be posting the recipe in the next week or so, make sure to follow my blog and you will be sure not to miss it! I also quickly sautéed some sage leaves in butter, it’s lovely little side that my dear friend Jessica served with her cheeses and it brings such a warm fall flavor that I have stated doing it too!
So with a fun trip to the supermarket and 15 minutes in the kitchen arranging you have a stunning spread that is sure to please the palate and the eyes of your guests! It’s also easy to make ahead and pop in the fridge. Then when the guests arrive voila you have a divine spread at the ready!