A cheese and meat platter is something that is done and served in many café, restaurants, wine & delicacies, bars, hotel lounges and of course at home. It is, phenomenally an easy thing to prepare and a solution to relief you from huge arrangements for your guests and with the right choice of meats, cheeses, pates and wines you can pleasantly surprise your friends and offer them a pleasant experience in easy dining for those Christmas gatherings around the fireplace. As an Interior Designer styling a house, styling a huge table for gatherings or styling food came quite easy for me but then I thought that maybe styling a cheese and meat platter might not be as easy as it sounds for all of us, so with Christmas holidays upon us, I found it as a good idea to give you some tips on how to style the perfect cheese and meat platter, and how to serve them. I am 100% sure that so far you have read, prepared or came across a cheese and meat platter but in this post I would like to share with you my tips for creating even more stylish platters for the festive period of Christmas!
Cold meats like ham & salamis, soft and hard cheeses and a choice of pates will make the perfect primary combination for your platters. But let’s take things step by step as in this post I will share with you, how to choose and prepare the food, how to choose the accompaniments, how to choose the platters and how to serve them.
Here are 7 steps on how to create, style and serve cheese platters for Christmas:
1.Evaluate Your Wants & Needs by Knowing in Advance the Following:
- How many people are you serving?
- Are you serving cheese before dinner or as an after-dinner cheese course?
- Are there any cheeses you definitely want to include or maybe definitely avoid?
- What is your budget? – Don’t forget that with LIDL DELUXE PRODUCTS your budget is cut in half!!
2.Understand The Style You Want to Present Your Platters:
- Evaluate your home surroundings and overall Christmas decorations and styling and choose the idea that that will complement the whole appearance of the platters.
- Get inspired by food bloggers, food magazines and food inserts from famous newspapers, of how would you like your presentation.
3.Find and set up your Platters and Overall Presentation:
- Once you get inspired if you don’t have the platters you want, make a research on online home stores or in stores in your area for the perfect platters that will meet your presentation as you got inspired and imagined them through your research. The platters can be anything from raw wood to fine finished wood, white marble or charcoaled grey volcano stone.
- You can concentrate on one theme – like cheeses from Italy or Spain or go to a more global selection
4.CHOOSE YOUR CHEESES:
- Types of Cheeses:
Aged Cheeses: Aged cheddar, goat Gouda, Swiss, etc.
Soft Cheeses: Brie, Camembert, Constant Bliss, etc.
Firm Cheeses: Gruyere, Jarlsberg, Monterey Jack, Provolone, etc.
Blue Cheeses: Stilton, Gorgonzola, etc.
Alternatively, pick one cheese from each type of milk – goat, sheep, and cow – to ensure that several different flavors are present on your platter.
- Keep your numbers odd. Cheese plates should have an odd number of cheeses – 3, 5, 7, etc. – rather than even. This is a guideline; you could serve 4 or 6 if you like, but the balance of odd numbers is visually pleasing and is reflected in other arts, particularly Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement.
- Decide how many cheeses will you serve. Will it be served as a course or as an hors d’oeuvre? You will need much less cheese – 1 oz-1.5 oz per person of each type – if you are going to serve cheese as a dessert course. If it is an appetizer, served buffet style, consider your guests and their appetites. Two to three ounces per cheese per person will work if you are serving a light meal.
- Choose cheeses with different textures. Go for a soft and creamy cheese such as Brie (or a similar artisan-style cheese made in your area); a firmer style cheese such as cheddar (preferably farmhouse), gouda or Gruyère; and a hard grating-style cheese like Parmigiano-Reggiano.
- Select different cheeses within the same family of cheeses. Examples of this would be three or four styles of soft-ripened cheeses such as Brie and Camembert and any other cheeses that have a similar white downy-like rind. Or, you can select a few distinct styles of blue cheese. Doing this is a great way to learn how similar cheeses differ in flavor.
- Choose cheeses that are all made with just one type of milk, such as sheep’s milk. Doing this is a great way to learn about the different styles of cheese within one milk category.
- Choose one cheese made with each type of milk — cow, goat, and sheep’s milk.
5.MAKE A DETAILED CHOICE OF ACCOMPANIMENTS:
- This is a very important step since it will create the overall appearance of your presentation and styling AND will boost the flavor of your cheeses.
- Add general accompaniments. Other foods can intensify and even change the flavor of cheese. Serve cheeses with a variety of accompaniments like roasted nuts, quince paste (membrillo), slices of pear or apple, dried fruits, wine jelly, Italian mostarda, fig cake (and any number of other treats available today). More specially you can serve with caramelized chestnuts, pomegranate and
- Serve slices of baguette or crackers in a separate basket or bowl.
- Choose plain (sourdough or French) bread or neutral crackers. Flavored breads such as those with sesame seeds or garlic and herbed crackers tend to overwhelm the flavors of the cheeses. The exception is breads containing walnuts, dried fruit or olives but you can add olives in the platter.
6.STYLING THE PLATTER & ADDING MEATS & PATES:
- Never crowd your cheese platter. If you do, you’re likely to find your knuckle in one of the cheeses as you attempt to cut the one you’d like.
- Offer a different knife with each cheese. If you cut all the cheeses with just one knife, they’ll start tasting like each other.
- Serve the cheeses either on a platter (or more than one if needed) or plate the cheeses individually. The latter method works particularly well if you’re serving cheeses after dinner. Each person gets their own plate, and best of all you get to prepare the cheese course before your guests arrive, leaving one less last-minute thing for you to do. (The plates can sit at room temperature, lightly covered, for a couple of hours without any harm to the cheese unless your kitchen is particularly warm. In that case, keep them refrigerated until an hour before serving time).
- Separate in your mind what goes with what and present them in layers.
Mozzarella + Rocket leafs + Pomenagrates + micro leafs + Balsamic glaze
Goose pate + Orange
- If you want you can add cold meats between your cheese for extra styling.
7. Make the right choice of wines:
- Pick a drink to go with it. Water is nice, but wine is finer. If you are serving cheese at the end of the meal, the last wine you serve with the entrée can be served with dessert if you don’t want to fuss too much. You can also choose a wine to pair with your cheese course, if you really want to create a dazzler (ask your cheesemonger for advice if you have a broad range of cheeses). With strong blues, nothing beats dessert wines like Port, Tawny Port, Muscat, late harvest Zin, Sauternes, etc. Milder cheeses can be overwhelmed by syrupy dessert wines, so avoid them if you are not serving strong cheeses
8. Serving cheese:
- Be sure to serve cheese at room temperature. To do this, take the cheeses out of the fridge at least one hour ahead of time.
- Serve before-dinner cheeses with relatively savory accompaniments such as olives, prosciutto, nuts and/or chutney and after-dinner cheeses with sweet accompaniments such as jams, honey, dried fruit and toasted nuts.
…and finally ENJOY THE MOMENT ….!!