Over the weekend, I hosted a small get together with my mom, sisters, and nieces. It’s always nice to have a quite afternoon to just get together and chat. My youngest sister had just gotten home from college, and my other sister is due to have her baby in a few weeks. So, between everyone’s busy schedules, we finally found a Saturday afternoon to just enjoy each other’s company.
I wanted to keep the afternoon party low key, since I didn’t have enough time to throw together anything elaborate, so and sometimes just some fine food and great company is enough for any party. I decided to invest a little time and money into creating a cheese platter for us to enjoy. Cheese platters are one of my favorite things to create. They are also quick, gorgeous, and (if you know what you are doing) shouldn’t cost a bunch. In all, I created three trays (like displayed below) for just around $25 total. And, I will be sharing those secrets. I’ve putt together some quick tips on how to make a cheese platter.
5 tips on how to make a Cheese Platter
1. Choose at least four cheese. You should try to cover at least one of each texture – soft, semi-soft, semi-hard, hard. While this is a good guideline, if you know your audience you can accommodate on a more personal level. I ended up with Gournay as my soft cheese, Smoked Gouda and Double Cream Gouda for semi-soft, Basque and Mahon as my semi-hard. I didn’t use a hard cheese, as I knew those weren’t our favorites. It takes a lot of discovery before you’ll find what you like the best. My recommendation would be – fill your tray with cheeses that are tried and true, but also pick at least one or two new cheeses to try each time. It helps easily expand your palette without investing in a bunch of cheeses at once that you don’t like.
2. Choose at least two or three different cured meats. We always have Prosciutto, and I haven’t found someone who doesn’t like it. And, this time I also added Salame, and Pancetta. I would get the Salame again, it added a different texture and flavor than the Prosciutto. But, I won’t be getting the Pancetta again. It might have just been our quality – it was too fatty and chewy. But, I have tried Capicola, which I did like, and would recommend instead of the Pancetta.
3. Garnish with fruit. I feel like you must have fruit with a cheese platter. There is no substitution. And, you can easily stick with the traditional grapes and pears. Cheese and fruit is actually one of my favorite lunches. It is a match made in heaven.
4. Extras. I usually don’t feel the need to go beyond my cheese, meats, and fruit platters. But, if you are looking for a little more, you can add crusty bread, crackers, olives, vegetable tray, honey, jams, or nuts.
5. Labels. One of the best parts of having an exciting cheese platter, is for your guests to know what they are eating. That is why labels on a cheese platter is a must. We always talk a lot about the different types of cheeses and usually everyone comes up with a favorite cheese from the platter (my favorite was the Mahon.)
Now – how do I keep it affordable? In all honesty, I just shop at Trader Joes. They seem to have Costco prices in small packages. So, I would suggest pricing out stores before buying. My local Smith’s is too expensive for me. And Whole Foods was way out of the question. My most expensive cheese (the Basque) was $7 a lb. And, I only got about half a pound of each cheese. If you find a cheese that is really expensive, switch it out for something cheaper. As long as you have a fun variety of textures and tastes, your group will love it.
And – how much cheese/meat/fruit did I have? For my little gathering of 5 adults and 5 kids, I had about 2 pounds of cheese, 1/2 pound of meat, a bunch of grapes, and 2-3 pears. (We ended up with a bunch of left over cheese.)