We live in a world where just about anything can go viral on the internet. Sometimes those things are bad (flash mobs) but other times, they're so, so good.
Behold: The hyper-stylized cheese plate. You know the one. The one with multiple kinds of beautifully arranged cheeses and meats. They're works of art, something to be praised and revered. Something that's as beautiful to look at as it is delicious. Something so famous, there's even an Instagram account dedicated to it.
There are many reasons why the cheese plate is the best thing ever: they're filled with multiple kinds of cheeses, they're great for parties, and they're just dang gorgeous. Though a regular grocery store plate can still be good, we're obsessed with cheese plates filled with fancy, highbrow cheese.
But making such bonafide, yea-I-made-that cheese plate isn't always easy, so we talked to Amanda Berrill, manager of The Cheese Store in San Diego, California about what makes a great cheese plate, including a few of her go-to favorites.
For Amanda, her path to cheese was unlikely, but that doesn't mean she can't make a masterful cheese plate. To start, she says she likes to mix it up as much as possible to satisfy a wide range of cheese lovers. But because there are so many types of cheeses, it can be hard to narrow down the options. Some exciting ways to differentiate are to pick cheeses that are different types of milk (cow vs goat vs sheep), vary the funkiness, and mix up the color options. And unless someone asks specifically asks for them, no blues.
She also likes to play around with the texture on her cheese plates. She likes to chunk Gouda, but prefers to thinly slice semi-soft cheeses and leave the rind attached. She also really likes varying the color and texture of the rind for a more dramatic display.
Here are some of Amanda's favorites. If you can't find them at your local cheese store, the cheesemonger should be able to help you find a similar option:
- Verde Capra | Goat | Ambrogio Arnoldi | Italy: A blue for people who don't like blues, bright, fruity flavor.
- Delice de Bourgogne | Cow | Fromagerie Lincet | Burgundy, France: Bloomy, triple-crème, tangy sour-cream like tartness.
- Patte D'Ours | Raw cow & sheep | Pascal Beillvaire Selection | Aquitaine, France: Delicate yet complex.
- Prima Donna | Cow | Van Der Sterre Cheese Co | Holland: Parm & Gruyere cross, sweet with a nutty finish.
- Harbison | Cow | Jasper Hill Farms | Greensboro, VT: Earthy, herbaceous, woodsy, wrapped in spruce bark.
- Melbus | Raw cow | Best Cheese Corp | Holland: Creamy, rich, with shavings a black truffles.
- Midnight Moon | Goat | Cypress Grove Creamery | Holland: brown butter, toasted nut, and salted caramel undertones.
- Hoja Santa | Goat | The Mozzarella Company | Texas: Fresh, milky, tangy, wrapped in Mexican Pepperleaf
To complete the platter, add a few types of cured meats, some fruit (fresh and/or dried), some nuts, and a few rosemary sprigs for good measure. When picking meats and fruit, follow the same rules of variation, but keep it simple. 1-2 meats will suffice, and fruits like grapes, dried apricots, or cherries are long-approved for pairing with cheese. Add a small handful of almonds or walnuts, arrange some rosemary, and you've got yourself a knock-out cheese plate.
Musings from the team at Hook & Blade Mag.