Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Build Your Own Cheese Platter

Easy, fast, delicious and beautiful! Choose your favorite combinations from any of the following catagories:

Go with what you love, or ask your local cheese monger (Mary from Taste) to help you with your selections (which is always fun and you get to taste a bunch of lovely cheese). I like to choose 3 that go together somehow (maybe all from the same region) or I choose 3 that are completely different. My favorite is to have one soft, one hard, and one blue.

Breads & Crackers
Bake your own or buy local. Choose an assortment or just one type. I almost always choose a fresh crusty baguette to slice up, maybe a seeded baguette to pair with a mild cheese. 

Fresh, dried, jammed or compoted, pick fruit that pairs well.  I tend toward fresh, so right now that's dates, apples and persimmons.  I would avoid citrus, but maybe that's just me.

My favorites are walnuts from Terra Bella Farm or almonds from Smit Orchards.

If you like, drizzle over cheeses, nuts, or fruit. Or put it in a little bowl for dipping. I love local honey and there is a lot to choose from.  Right now, I'm loving the buckwheat honey in People's Co-op bulk section.

Roasted Garlic
Lovely to include if it goes with the cheeses.  Lately, I get my garlic from Schaner Farm.  I especially love roasted garlic with soft cheese such as brie or Nicolau goat cheese (a recent favorite).

A Few Examples
  • triple cream brie & cranberry compote wrapped and baked in a pie crust
  • goat chevre rolled in chopped parsley and chives with roasted garlic
  • english stilton, cotswold & derby cheeses, with toasted walnuts, fresh figs (quartered) and local wildflower honey
  • saint-andrĂ©, winchester gouda & point reyes blue cheeses with pear, raspberries, cashews and local orange blossom honey
Arrange your selections on a pretty platter or a wood or stone serving board. I start with the cheeses arranged toward the middle, I slice thin and fan out hard fruit or pile berries in between the cheese, place the nuts so they might cascade down the cheese or fruit, then lightly drizzle honey over a bit of the fruit and nuts. Finally, I fan out sliced baguette or crackers in a circle around or alternatively, serve in a basket lined with a cloth napkin. Don’t forget to include a cheese knife, preferably one for each cheese.

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