HOW TO STYLE THE PERFECT CHEESE PLATTER THIS NEW YEAR'S EVE
It’s the time of year when you’re either hosting a soiree, or being invited to one. Whether you’re planning your appetisers or told not to bring a thing, we’ve got the perfect cheese platter sorted, and it’s perfect for your New Year’s Eve.
Cheese is one of life’s greatest gifts. Versatile and chic, a good cheese platter is a staple for entertaining and an all-round crowd pleaser. But there’s more to the classic cheese platter than brie and water wafers.
The sweetness of fruit and quince paste offset the depth and texture of hard and soft cheeses, and gourmet lavosh help tie it all together. Put some extra thought into your spread when entertaining this festive period with our guide to the perfect cheese platter.
EASY SERVING: Wa's Objects Large Square Tray in Oak $65 doubles as a handy cheese board.
Let’s start from the bottom-up. Choose a platter large enough to comfortably accommodate the cheese, crackers and assorted fruits and pastes. Depending on how lavish or large your party, you may need more than one platter. Keep in mind that while it’s tempting to separate your cheese from your crackers, it’s easier to eat when they’re on the same platter.
The classic paddle shaped cheese board makes serving nice and simple as you’ve got a handle to carry. Marble Basics do a gorgeous paddle-shaped cheese board that is worth investing in for special occasions.
You can also shake things up by using a serving tray as a cheese board. The bonus here is that the edges prevent crackers from spilling over and moving from lounge to balcony is a breeze. Wa’s Objects Large Square Tray is super versatile and can be used for serving drinks, cheese or even storing your jewellery in its downtime.
A beautiful Fromage set will lift your platter and add a touch of class to your setting. Plus, they really are a handy tool when serving cheese, as the forked tip prevents your guests from using their fingers and the rounded knife lets them spread cheese and dip with ease.There are plenty of timeless fromage sets available, and you’ll use them forever - so invest in a set that you know you’ll love for a long time. The Cheese Knives set from Williams Sonoma have acacia handles and stainless steel blades, giving a gorgeous rustic feel to any table.
THE PERFECT PLATTER: Select an assortment of textures and flavours to give your guests variety.
Before we start on the gouda stuff (see what I did there?) let’s start with the basics: serve your cheese at room temperature, not straight out of the fridge. Why? As cheese warms up, its fat-soluble flavours become readily accessible to your taste buds, so you get the full-depth of smell and taste. It also helps soft cheeses to soften after refrigeration, allowing them to become buttery and gooey.
Soft cheeses are some of the most commonly found cheese in both your supermarket’s cheese fridge and your garden-variety cheese platter, and for good reason. They’re delicious and easy to eat, while also being universally enjoyed and a little bit fancy.
Camembert is a classic soft rind cheese and an easy all-rounder. It has a great mild and smooth flavour that goes great with a flavoured cracker, such as spiced lavosh. Try enjoying your Camembert with a dollop of basil pesto and a drizzle of honey.
Brie is also a soft rind cheese but it has a much nuttier, stronger flavour than Camembert that can be quite rich, depending on the percentage of butterfat. A double cream brie, for example, has 60% butterfat content whereas a triple cream brie has 75% butterfat. You’ll taste the difference and notice that the triple cream can be a little rich when you overindulge. When eating a Triple Cream Brie, pair it with strawberries and salty crackers to cut through the nuttiness, and remember that you only really need a sliver.
Blue vein cheese is delicious, but takes an acquired taste. Blue Brie is a great introduction for a cheese platter as it combines the delicious creaminess of Brie with a hint of blue flavour. You can choose milder blue brie’s, although keep in mind that they will be wonderfully strong on the nose regardless. They pair well with sweet fruits to offset the saltiness of the blue.
For something totally left field, add some goat’s chevre to your cheese platter. It pairs well with fruits and salty crackers, as they help balance the grassiness of the goat’s milk.
BLUE VEIN: Add an ashy blue cheese to your platter for a sophisticated crowd.
Hard cheeses can remind you of cheese cubes with cabanossi your mum puts out when family friends come over. Fear not, there are plenty of hard cheeses you’d normally overlook in the cheese cabinet at the supermarket that will make a nice change from the standard cheese board.
Although it sounds pretty basic, Cheddar comes in a wide array of flavour profiles to liven up a cheese platter. Look for the words ‘vintage’, ‘sharp’ and ‘crumbly’ and enjoy with grapes to offset the strength of the cheese, and enjoy with a good quality quince paste.
You know the one: beautiful big holes that make you think of a tiny mouse munching his way through. Swiss cheese goes great on a sandwich, but it’s also pretty special on your cheese platter as it not only looks fantastic, adding variety and texture to your spread, but it has a lovely smooth flavour that goes well with nuts and a drizzle of honey.
Gouda should have a lovely dark orange colour, the texture of parmesan and a strong, nutty flavour. The colour will look great on a marble platter and give your cheese board visual appeal, and it goes well with grapes to offset the strength of the cheese.
Got a lactose intolerant friend? Get them involved with a vegan cheese alternative made from nuts such as cashews and almonds, or soy. Look for them in specialty deli’s, organic grocers or online vegan food stores. Keep in mind, of course, that as much as they look like their cheese counterparts, they may need a few flavour tweaks here and there for the best possible experience.
Damona Brie is made from soy milk and coconut oil and is made in Melbourne. It has the soft texture of a regular brie without the tummy ache. Soft and easy to spread, pair with quince paste, honey or pesto to bring out the flavours, as they aren’t quite as strong as a regular dairy-based cheese.
Vegan Cheese & Chives
Sprout & Kernel Chive Cashew Nut Cheese is handmade in Sydney’s inner west and, as the name suggests, is made from cashews, giving it a delicious creamy flavour. Serve with a flavourful, salty cracker to bring out the flavour of the cheese.
FRUITS, DIPS AND PASTES
Although these cheeses are great on their own, adding fruits, dips and pastes to your spread will help bring out certain flavours or create balance where needed. Hot tip: try combining honey, strawberries, basil pesto, walnuts and cheese in one mouthful and believe in magic again.
The natural sweetness of fresh fruit helps balance the flavour palette of stronger cheeses, as well as helping to bring out milder flavours. Strawberries, pears and grapes are all excellent choices when putting together your cheese board as they not only add texture and colour, but they each add varying depths of sweetness to complement your cheese selection.
The earthiness of basil pesto works beautifully with cheese to take your snacking to a new level. Try making your own with fresh basil, olive oil, parmesan and cashew, or choose an organic pesto dip from the cold foods section of your supermarket.
One of nature’s wonders, honey can help balance a strong cheese with a different type of sweet that fruit lacks. Look for honey’s that are locally produced, such as Rooftop Honey that not only tastes great, but serves a fantastic cause in raising awareness of the vital role bees play in our ecosystem. Alternatively, look for honey’s produced from different plants, such as Red Gum, for something different.
NECTAR OF THE GODS: Select a locally produced honey for its unique flavour.
Walnuts, Cashews, Roasted Almonds and Hazelnuts all make great cheese accompaniments as they add an earthy depth to the palate. Enjoy with a drizzle of honey for a little bit of wow.Quince PasteMade from the quince fruit, quince paste adds a lovely new texture and an interesting sweet-tartness to hard cheeses.
Crackers can be a tricky one, as there’s a lot to choose from and they can really elevate your platter in both aesthetic and taste. A plain water cracker lets your cheese, paste and dip speak for itself rather than adding additional flavour, but sometimes it’s nice to add a range of crackers for your guests to choose from.
Try adding lavosh crackers for a Middle Eastern touch, or even make your own. A Kitchen Cat has a great recipe that gives you greater control over spices and flavour to complement your cheese board.
Another favourite are the Rosemary Crackers from Coles as the herb plays beautifully with the nuttiness of brie or the depth of a blue vein. Just keep in mind that it may be an acquired taste, and adding in the humble Jatz gives everyone an option.
Finally, relax with a well-paired wine and enjoy your night. Summer is the perfect time for a light rose or a sparkling white, and nothing goes better with cheese than a quality tipple.
The Miss Glass Home Team wish you a Happy New Year! xx