A beautifully staged cheese plate complimented with additional delicious nibbles can set the mood and the table for your holiday gatherings.
Choose a selection of cheese that is soft, semisoft, semi-hard and hard from different regions of the world. I typically purchase 1-2 ounces of each cheese per person. Then pair the cheese with assorted delightful nibbles such as lemon or orange rind stuffed green olives, oil cured olives, peppadew peppers, assorted salami, grilled or marinated artichoke hearts, fresh grapes, dried or fresh figs and a pate´ or two. Serve the cheese board with assorted crackers, crostini, warm crusty baguette slices and parmesan crisps.
I’ve used five different cheeses for this cheese board. For the soft cheese I chose the American produced Mt. Tam Triple Cream from Cowgirl Creamery in California. This is a lovely soft ripened cheese with flavor notes of cultured butter and hints of white mushrooms.
Another soft cheese I included is the Smokey Bleu from Rogue Creamery in Oregon. It has a slightly smokey flavor and rich texture. This cheese is slow smoked over Oregon hazelnuts and creates a balance of earthy flavor and hints of roasted nuts.
The English Huntsman is a delicious combination of hard and semi soft cheese and combines the two classic cheeses produced in the English countryside. The Double Gloucester is a firm, mellow but tangy cheese, much like an English cheddar. It’s combined with the distinctive flavor of an English Stilton Blue. This cheese is visually stunning on a cheese platter and is equally impressive in flavor.
The Cahill’s Irish Porter Cheddar is another unique cheese that is blended with Guinness-brewer Porter and creates a visually dramatic mosaic pattern. The flavor is rich, tangy and chocolaty with a pungent finish.
I always have a difficult time deciding between the 12 month aged Spanish Manchengo or the Cave Aged Gruyere. Both are excellent hard cheeses that are impressive in flavor and bring a delightful balance to a cheese plate.
The Spanish Manchengo is produced in the La Mancha region of Spain, which by the way, is also the home to Don Quixote. It’s made from unpasteurized sheep’s milk which gives it a distinctive tangy flavor.
The Cave Aged Gruyere is aged in underground sandstone caves near Lucerne. This cheese is made from unpasteurized Alpine cow’s milk and aged for 3, 6 or 12 months. A smooth textured cheese with robust and assertive flavor.
Creating the perfect cheese plate makes a simple yet satisfying starter for your holiday gatherings.