It’s September, or as I like to call it, “the perfect cheese platter time of the year.” I know, it’s a mouthful, but that’s just how I feel about September and cheese.
Since September is also the holy-goat-we’re-so-flipping-busy time of year, cheese platters are good for quick entertaining. Cutting all those summer veggies can be mighty tedious. It’s a heck of a lot quicker to slap three cheeses on a platter and call it a day.
So how do you maximize your cheese plate chances of success?
You taste, you find your favorites and you learn about these three guidelines.
1. Most cheeses come from one of 4 categories: aged, soft, firm, or blue.
(And if you just giggled when you read that list, welcome to my brain.)
You can pick one cheese from every group and your speedy cheese plate appetizer wins.
You can also pick a selection of cheeses from one category for comparison’s sake (all soft cheeses! all blue cheeses… on second thought, all blue cheeses is too much for most cheese enthusiasts).
2. Cheese comes from milk of the holy animal trinity: sheep, cow and goat.
Some cheeses are blends of different animal milks. Some are straight up sheep’s milk, cow’s milk, etc.
You can organize your platter by animal (e.g. a selection of cow’s milk cheeses). Or mix it up by offering one of all three.
3. You can find cheese made in most parts of the world. Take a tip from Cheesewhizzes and organize your plate by country of origin. (Spanish cheeses [cheethes]! Italian cheese! Swiss!)
Bonus quick cheese plate tips:
- Generally, you want no more than five cheeses — let’s not fatigue our palates.
- A good guideline is to buy one ounce per person per cheese. Then you won’t have cheese overload.
- Label your cheese ahead of time so guests know what they’re getting.
- Use a different knife for each cheese. Butter knives work well if you’re low on dedicated cheese knives. (Dudes, I run a cheese club and I never have enough cheese knives).
- Add “Take the cheese out of the fridge about an hour before serving” to your to-do list — room temperature brings out all the good flavors.
Elsewhere: The imitable Joanne Goddard from A Cup of Jo has created some of the most instructive (and stylish) posts on the topic.
Speedy cheesing to you!