How to Make a Cheese Plate
How to Make a Cheese Plate Video (scroll down for tips and cheese suggestions)
Part 3 in our French Brunch series, the cheese plate. I met with Kendall Antonelli of Antonelli’s Cheese in Austin Texas to get some tips for putting together a great cheese plate, as well as some specific cheese suggestions for our French-themed brunch. Watch the video to learn about different types of cheeses and see how the brunch comes together at the end!
How to Make a Cheese Plate
- Choose between 3 and 5 cheeses to serve. More than 5 cheeses and your guests will have a hard time remembering which ones they really liked.
- If serving a cheese plate along with other food, you will need about 1 ounce of each cheese per person. If the cheeses are the main food focus, you will need about 3 ounces of each cheese per person.
- Cheeses are best at room temperature so leave them out for an hour before your guests arrive.
- Try to choose one goat’s milk cheese, one cow’s milk cheese and one sheep’s milk cheese for variety. Not only is it fun to compare and contrast, this also guarantees that there will be at least one cheese that everyone will really like. Another option would be to do a “horizontal tasting” and choose all goat’s milk or sheep’s milk or cow’s milk cheeses or to choose a few different makers of one type of cheese (i.e. a Vermont Cheddar and an English Cheddar).
- When choosing pairings, think of flavors that reinforce some cheeses and contrast others. Examples are a nutty, savory Compte cheese paired with roasted almonds or caramelized onions or pate or sliced meats; a soft, juicy fresh Mozzarella with ripe tomatoes. Contrasting examples are a salty Roquefort paired with honey or fruit jam or marmalade; the Texas classic, sweet cream cheese with hot pepper jelly. Be experimental and put out several condiments for your guests to play with and make their own combinations.
- It’s up to you to decide between bread or crackers. If you can get some fresh bread that’s really nice, use that and sliced it thinly for your guests. If great bread is hard to find, get some crackers instead. Make them bland and crisp (water crackers, rice crackers and Wasa crisp bread are all good choices) so the flavor of the cheese can shine.
- Serve the proper drinks! Bubbly drinks like Champagne and other sparkling wines pair well with most cheeses, but fizzy water or Italian sodas work well, too for a non-alcoholic option. Dry white wines and red wines are good choices, as well.
My thanks to Kendall and Antonelli’s Cheese Shop for helping with these cheese tips. If you’re ever in Austin, be sure to stop by and sample their cheeses and even sign up for one of their frequent cheese pairing classes. They’re super fun and educational!
More French Recipes to Try!
Tips on how to throw a French-themed Brunch Party
EXCELLENT introduction to a French institution.
Obviously there are other ways to select the cheeses for a cheese board. One can focus on one region — for example, the old province of Auvergne in south central France produces Saint-Nectaire (soft, creamy, mild), Cantal (hard and crumbly), and Fourme d’Ambert (blue, creamier and less salty than Roquefort). Those all happen to be cow’s-milk cheeses, but there’s still plenty of contrast.
I used to know a restaurant in Paris that served a single goat’s-milk cheese in varying stages of ripeness, from fresh and soft to hard and crumbly. They accompanied these with a slightly sweet bread that had chopped walnuts in it.
By the way, the French slang term for a fully ripe, hard, pungent goat cheese is “crottin”. It means a horse dropping — not exactly the best marketing strategy, but nobody seems to be put off by it.
Hope the move is going well.
Those are great suggestions, Pat. Thank you!
Antonelli’s is SUCH a great shop! Also: CHEESE!!!