Dreaming of Cheese: Cheese Plate Like a Pro

The Basics

1. Choose Different Types of Milk: cow, goat, sheep, raw/pasteurized, blended milks

2. Different Textures: I like to use 1 soft, 1 semi-firm, 1 aged and 1 blue cheese on all my plates. 3-4 cheeses is the perfect number: It’s pretty simple- two cheeses is underwhelming and 5 cheeses is too much.

3. Elevate your goat cheese! Try rolling grapes in goat cheese and cover them with with toasted walnuts and chives, or make goat cheese balls and roll them in creative toppings: think pink peppercorns, dried peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, or fresh herbs.

4. Pre-cut your Cheese: Never leave a huge block of cheese in one piece because guests feel uncomfortable breaking into it. Cut the cheese in thin slices or unique shapes to make it look great and easy to eat.

5. Mix and Match: Try mixing cheese and charcuterie on a appetizer platter (if you are not kosher). Cheese pairs really well with cured meats, sliced pickles and olives. You don’t need to spend a lot!

6. Accents: Let your creativity run wild. I love to use a combination of seasonal fruit and specialty ingredients to make my cheese platters stand out. Fresh seasonal fruit like figs, pomegranates, sliced apple, grape clusters, sliced pear and strawberries work really well. Specialty goods that look and taste fantastic could include fresh honeycomb, marcona almonds, truffle honey, delicious jam, nutella or a mixture of toasted nuts and dried fruits.

Specialty Items That Will Rock Your World

1. An incredible jam/chutney (Some over my favs can be found here, here, here, and here.)
2. Truffle Honey (Try this ahhhhmazing one.)
3. Honeycomb (Like this.)
4. Pickles/Lacto-ferments (I know a guy…)
5. Nuts (Who isn’t nuts for nuts?)
6. Brandied Cherries (Next. Level.)

Cheese and Wine Pairing 101

1. Sparking wine goes with EVERYTHING: The acid in sparkling wine cuts through the fat in cheese and make a perfect pairing. If you are invited to a party and don’t know what food they are serving, sparkling wine wins every time.

2. Like Flavors Go Together: If you have a creamy, buttery cheese like a brie then the perfect wine to match would be a creamy, buttery white wine like a chardonnay. Another example is Pinot Grigio and Humboldt Fog. If you mimic the obvious or subtle flavors of a cheese with a wine that has matching qualities, you create great pairings.

3. Yin and Yang: Sometimes opposite flavors work brilliantly together. Super sweet dessert wines go perfectly with salty blue cheese.

4. Terroir is real: Terroir is French term that literally means ‘earth’ or ‘soil’ and in broader terms it means the specificity of a place. Foods and wines from the same region typically go very well together because they are influenced by the earth and climate of their region. For example, the robust tuscan red wines pair really well with the fatty, stinky cheeses from that region. Additionally Rioja or Tempranillo wines of Spain pair perfectly with Manchego and Mahon cheeses from Spain.

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Kasey Passen spent ten years focusing on dinner parties as a restaurant chef and caterer before becoming OneTable's Associate Director of Hubs. Her passion is making people happy through food, so she's sharing some of her “WOW” recipes and favorites by other chefs with the OneTable community.

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