Knowing how to throw together a quick and beautiful cheese platter is a trick that everyone should have up her sleeve. Armed with this little skill, you can have people over on a whim, no matter how casual or fancy the occasion. I’ve even been known to serve cheese platters for dinner…even when it’s just me eating. Here are the basic rules:
1. Pick a mixture of hard, medium, and soft cheeses. Hard cheeses are aged cheeses like Parmesan, Pecorino, extra sharp cheddar, etc. Medium (semi-soft) cheeses could mean smoked Gouda, Raclette, or herbed Harvarti. Some great soft cheeses are Brie, blue, most goat cheeses, ricotta, or Buffalo mozzarella. 1-2 cheeses from each category is plenty.
2. Include a variety of crackers and baguette slices (either toasted, which become “crostini,” or untoasted). People will have fun pairing the different cheeses with different bread products.
3. Pick a few “extras,” like a little jar of honey or fruit preserves, some dried or fresh fruit, a cured meat like prosciutto or salami, and/or a bowl of olives.
4. Label the cheeses, even if it’s just with post-it notes, so that people know what they’re eating. Also include a few different knives so the cheeses don’t get all mixed together.
Voila! You’ve got yourself a party!
**The cheese platters above were put together by my friend and fellow cheese-lover Stephanie, owner of Cake Bakeshop in Manhattan Beach, CA**