Cheese plate artistry requires an eye and palate both subtle and experimental. Not wanting to overwhelm guests with too many strong flavors all jostling for attention, a good cheese plate is a balanced affair that offers variety in tastes and textures and balances savory with just a touch of sweet.
Just in time for New Year’s celebrations, SHED Larder lead Bradley Frank has some tips on the art of the cheese plate, perfect for any host or cheese lover.
- First of all, the mantra: Less is more. Choose just four to five cheeses for your plate.
- Be sure to mix it up with different textures and types of milk – fresh, surface ripened, semi-firm, firm, hard, and blue; cow, goat, sheep.
Some of Bradley’s current favorites in our Larder include:
Andante Dairy Cavatina: goat’s milk cheese covered with ash
Ramini Mozzarella: made from buffalo milk
Pennyroyal Farmstead Velvet Sister: a creamy, Camembert-inspired cheese
Andante Dairy Largo: an aged triple-cream cheese
Nicasio Valley Square: a washed-rind cheese, reminiscent of a Taleggio
Andante Dairy Tomme Dolce: washed with a mixture of brandy and plum conserve made by farm neighbor June Taylor
Rogue River Blue: wrapped in grape leaves and macerated in pear brandy
When it comes to arranging a cheese board, Tia Keenan’s The Art of the Cheese Plate offers suggestions for both supporting and contrasting pairings based on texture and flavor. With tasting notes, recipes for accompaniments like lavender-quince paste, and visually inspired spreads, this book has become one of our main references during the holiday party season.
An iconoclast, Keenan serves fig-ricotta caramels with Parmigiano Reggiano and cranberry gin compote with her Roquefort. With aged Goudas, she suggests low-key accompaniments like coffee-hazelnut crisps or apple chutney. And with nutty, caramelized Alpine cheeses, she pairs sunflower seed brittle, beer mustard, or even fried onion strings.
However you do it, honor yourself and your own preferences. Absolutely, use guidance from the experts — but allow your own palate and tastes to lead your discovery.