How To Build The Perfect Cheese Plate

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If there’s one thing that I pride myself on when it comes to entertaining, it’s that I’ve pretty much perfected the art of the cheese plate. From selecting the perfect combination of cheeses to the presentation of the plate itself, I am quite the fromage fanatic.

Even cheese lovers may not know that in France, the cheese course comes after dinner (before or even in place of dessert). Meanwhile, an appetizer cheese course is the one we’re most familiar with in the States. But the French way of serving cheese — after your salad and main course — is a lovely tradition, in my opinion. For one thing, it draws out a leisurely meal at the table instead of standing around snacking at the beginning. It is also a great way to prevent you from filling up on cheese beforehand, and instead keeps the cheese as a treat to be enjoyed in moderation when you have already had a healthy, hearty main.

So today, I’m going to teach you the difference between an appetizer cheese course and an after-dinner cheese course, and show you how to wow your guests with each one. Check out my tips below.

General Cheese Plate Tips
A good cheese plate features a variety of flavors. If you have three cheeses on your plate, make sure to include one each of cow, goat, and sheep’s milk. If you are serving at least four cheeses, include: one creamy, spreadable cheese; one semi-firm cheese; one hard, aged cheese; and one bleu cheese.
If you feel overwhelmed choosing cheeses from everything at the store, it can help to stick to cheeses from a certain region — i.e., all California cheeses or only French cheeses.

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If you are including a stinky bleu cheese, keep it on a separate plate so that the flavor won’t overwhelm the others. Remove your cheese from the refrigerator an hour before serving. It is best at room temperature, not cold. Label each cheese so that your guests know what they’re eating and can jot the name down if they find one they really like.
If you are having a large party, it can be helpful to pre-cut hard and semi-firm cheeses into bite-size pieces. Creamy cheeses should always be kept whole on the plate with a spreader for guests to use. Bleu cheeses should be served in chunks or the wedge.
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If you have a specialty cheese store in your city, I highly recommend buying your cheese from there versus the supermarket. It will cost a little more, but the difference in taste and quality is tremendous.

Appetizer Cheese Plate
For an appetizer cheese plate, serve 3-4 oz. of cheese per person and pair it with hearty, salty, and savory accompaniments.
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Savory Accompaniments

Roasted red peppers
Artichoke hearts

Dessert Course Cheese Plate
For a dessert cheese course, serve 1-2 oz. of cheese per person and pair with sweet accompaniments.

Sweet Accompaniments
Dried fruit
Apple slices
Pear slices
Toasted nuts

Whichever kind of cheese course you are serving, you will also want to include a selection of “vehicles” for eating the cheese, like artisan bread, crackers, breadsticks, or a sliced baguette.

Do you love a good cheese plate as much as I do?

Share your own tips below!

xo Ilana
Team LC

Next: How To Host The Perfect Dinner Party

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