I had you at Cheese, don't lie. Let's be real, as a good friend once told me, "I don't really trust anyone who doesn't like cheese." Not only is cheese a favorite food throughout the world, it brings people together.
This, my friends, is your quick reference to the easiest, most beautiful, most versatile cheese plate you will ever make.
We are going to get you from this....
... to this with no stress.
What's the secret? There is a Master of Cheese behind this guide. Legitimately, he has a Wisconsin Cheese Grader License. His name is Dad, and he is quite possibly the Cheese God.
My family owned and operated a cheese manufacturing and distribution company for over 30 years in Wisconsin. With a company home base in a little town called Shullsburg, Wisconsin, Shullsburg Creamery distributes to seven Midwestern states and also Japan. I grew up learning about cheese around the dinner table and quickly came to be known as the friend house with a never ending stock of cheese.
So, what type of special powers does a Cheese God have, you ask?
Powers that have been honed over a lifetime.
He has done a world tour of cheese, so to speak. Tasting cheese from the Roquefort caves of France to the largest food show in the World, to the hills of Ireland and shores of Australia, he knows a thing or two about cheese.
When he tastes cheese, he can tell you if it was made from the morning or evening cow milk - yes for all of your non-Wisconsinites, that's a thing. Cows are milked twice a day - morning and evening. When he grades cheese, he can literally smell the farm where the milk came from. It doesn’t get more legit than that. We joke and laugh about those skills, but let’s be real, those are some mad skills honed over a lifetime.
So what does all of this mean? It means, he can cut through the fluff and break it down to the basics that MAKE a cheese plate a cheese plate.
Before we dive in, here is a behind the scene peek at the Master at work grading and accessing his very own cheese for our cheese plate.
Now that you officially have a Cheese God in your back pocket, we broke it down to the basics of a perfect cheese plate that anyone can tackle.
Quick Reference to your Perfect Cheese Plate:
Domestic Cheese & Imported Cheese
Hard & soft cheese
Crusty Bread & Crackers
Preserves & Honey
Things of your choice to add color
Cheese board, cheese knives, spreaders
Always remember two basic rules:
1. There are no rules. Cheese brings people together. It’s about the company, not the perfectly crafted cheese plate!
2. The cheese does all the work. No need to be intimidated with types of cheeses. You literally can't go wrong with cheese.
Ok, now let's do this.
1. Have an assortment of Domestic Cheese and Imported Cheese
Did you know there is a difference between Domestic and Import Cheese? Import Cheeses are those such as French Brie, Manchego from Spain, Roquefort from the South of France. Domestic cheeses are made in the United States. Think of the ones you often see in a bag shredded - Cheddar and Colby, PepperJack. They don’t break the bank and when you find one that's been made well, you won't be able to stop eating it.
Find your happy balance between domestic and import offerings. Maybe it's half and half, or perhaps you prefer one over the other.
You'll likely find a large variety of import cheeses at your local cheese shop. If you leave lacking a domestic cheese assortment, take a quick trip to your grocery store to fill in with domestic offerings. Check out the deli cases - not the actual deli counter, but the center island cooler with pre-packaged, pre-cut cheeses.
The best way to decide which cheeses are which is to look at the label. It will tell you where it's made. There is no right or wrong for what variety to put on the plate. Pick the ones that look good to you!
You can even order Shullsburg Creamery cheese here.
2. Provide an assortment of Hard and Soft Cheese
Soft cheese examples are Brie, Camembert, Blue/Roquefort, Gorgonzola, Goat Cheese
Hard cheeses examples are Cheddar, Colby, Gouda, Parmesan (picture below), Guyere
3. Add in delicious Crusty Bread & Crackers
A crusty baguette sliced into individual portions is perfect. Guests can layer on as much or as little as they'd like.
Throw some crackers on the plate too. They aren't as heavy as bread. See what your cheese store has in stock or grab something with a neutral flavor from the grocery store. You don't want the cracker flavor to compete. I found these Charcoal Crackers at our local cheese store. They add a fun color and unique experience.
4. Don't forget the Cured Meats
Proscuitto, Salami, Pepperoni, Cappacola. Your pick!
We love Ditalia.
5. Next, Fresh Fruit
This is where you start to bring in color. I tend to stick with Red or Green Grapes, Red or Green Apples, Strawberries and Raspberries.
6. Perserves/Jams & Honey
Balsamic Jelly, Fig Jam, Hot Pepper Jam - again your pick. Don't forget a separate spreader for each. We love Ditalia for this as well.
Honey - We love actual honeycomb if you can get your hands on some. It makes for an impressive presentation and is so fun to use! You may find some at your local cheese shop or farmer's market.
7. Lastly, things of your choice to add all of that beautiful color
These are the fillers. We love Castelvetrano olives for their vibrant green color, sun dried tomatoes for the red and dried apricots for orange. Do a mental run down of color as your gathering ingredients: Red, Purple, Green, Orange and We also love the sweetness of whole Dates. Throw some of those babies in there as well!
8. Don't forget the cheese board, cheese knife and spreaders.
An oversize cutting board works perfectly, but this is also a fun excuse to buy a great cheese board. I opted for these slate boards made in Vermont to give a contrast to the cheese. My cheese knife and spreaders came from Anthropologie.
There you go! You've created a cheese plate that will wow any guest with little to no effort.
CHEERS AND GOOD LUCK! COMMENT BELOW WITH ANY QUESTIONS!
All of the beautiful photography you see here is from the very talented Molly Lo