Holiday Cheese Plate Tips!
Tips from our Shop Manager, Tessie for building the perfect cheese plate for your holiday celebrations.
As a professional cheesemonger, I am constantly being asked, “I’m putting together a cheese plate for (insert event here), what should I get?” There are any number of ways that you can go about putting together a plate that will wow your guests, but here are a few of my favorite ways to do it:
Creamery Classic – Single Producer
This is one I really like to do with the many fantastic American producers who are making a variety of cheese types. Highlighting a single producer can be a great way to introduce your friends to a great cheese maker you love (like Zingerman’s Creamery!).
A beautiful range of textures and flavors produced at Zingerman’s Creamery. Set out this plate with some Marcona almonds and fig preserves and enjoy!
City Goat – fresh, light chevre
Manchester – buttery, lush Jersey cow’s milk
Napoleon in Chestnut Leaves – tangy aged goat’s milk aged in wine-soaked chestnut leaves
Great Lakes Cheshire – crumbly, savory hard cheese
Badger State Favorites – Single Milk
This is all about texture. Highlighting the things you can do with the milk from a single kind of animal gives you a chance to explore the flavors and textures you get by treating the milk differently in the making and aging stages of cheesemaking. Cow’s milk is usually going to be the easiest one to find in a variety of cheeses, but there are more and more great goat and sheep’s milk cheeses on the market by small, artisan producers you can find these days.
Embrace your inner cheesehead with this plate featuring cow’s milk cheeses from Wisconsin! Serve with cornichon pickles and Neuske’s Landjager sausages!
Uplands Rush Creek Reserve – super creamy, with a big meaty flavor
Saxon Creamery Snowfields – cheddar/parm cross, slightly sharp, nice semi-soft texture
Roelli Dunbarton Blue – English-style cheddar pierced to allow for blue mold growth
Roth’s Wisconsin Mountain – Classic gruyere style, nutty and slightly sweet
America the Beautiful – A Little Bit of Everything
A “classic” cheese plate, this one combines different producers and milks on a plate. The key to making this one work is to have a variety of flavors and textures represented. Three to five cheeses is a good number for this type of plate— too few and you don’t have enough variety represented; too many and you risk overwhelming your guests with options. Start fresh and light, then progress to more aged and harder cheeses.
Celebrating the bounty of America’s artisan cheeses! The accompaniments are endless for this plate, here we have roasted red peppers, Marcona almonds, Truffle Mousse pate, and Picante Salami from Creminelli Meats!
Tulip Tree Trillium – triple-cream cow’s milk, buttery and rich
Zingerman’s Aged Chelsea – ash-rinded goat’s milk, herbal and savory
Bleu Mont Bandaged Cheddar – English-style cow’s milk cheddar, sharp and complex
Landmark Anabasque – Basque inspired sheep’s milk, nutty and rich
Jasper Hill Bayley Hazen Blue – stilton inspired cow’s milk blue, strong and slightly funky
The Other Details:
- Cheeses are best served at room temperature – pull cheeses out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before your guests arrive to let them warm up!
- Marcona Almonds are my favorite nut to serve with cheeses, these Spanish beauties burst with flavor.
- Fruit preserves are great for winter cheese plates when fresh frut itsn’t always at it’s peak. My go to is the Fig Spread that we carry in the shop!
- Pickled veggies help to cleanse your palate between cheeses, clearing the way for new flavors with each bite – choose something like a Cornichon pickle that has a good crunch for a texture element!
- Cured meats add flavor and variety to your cheese plate. I love the great salami from Creminilli Fine Meats out of Utah for traditional old-world flavors that pair with lots of different kind so cheese!