Grace is a friend and fellow blogger, and a kindred spirit in the manner of all things food and travel. She’s scouted many of the cheese plates here in Boulder and offers up what she considers cheese plate musts, great information about cheeses and some delicious photos of the local fromage. You can find our Gracie Boyle on Twitter @gracekboyle, and peep her own personal blog, Small Hands Big Ideas.
I adore cheese – stinky, soft, sharp, aged, goat, crumbly, yes please.
Last week, in my regular outings of some favorite Boulder restaurants, I had three cheese plates total (in a week!) This is how serious I am about cheese. I know how much I adore the taste, but know less about the process, how it’s made and regions with spectacular cheese. I’m going to meld my love for cheese, with some basic information and of course, sample some of the delicious local restaurants with my favorite cheese plates here on Doni’s beautiful, Nomadic Foodie.
What Makes a Delicious Cheese Plate?
Cheese expert, Laura Werlin of Food & Wine states that the perfect cheese plate should include: “a mix of fresh, aged, soft and hard cheeses, arranged in the order in which they should be tasted: from the lightest and freshest to the ripest and most intense.”
My scrupulous research and foodie taste buds declare (American Cheese Society backs me up too) that for cheese boards/plates, limit your selection to no more than 5 cheeses.
A variety of sizes, shapes, flavor and texture are desirable especially to create diversity to the palate. For example, if there’s a strong and pungent cheese it shouldn’t be next to a lighter, more delicate cheese. Furthermore, I can tell when the cheese board arrives and there are a few different knives for each cheese, the restaurant knows their cheese plates.
We shouldn’t forget that delicious cheese must not only be coupled by cheese itself, but with pairings such as fruit, jams or nuts. I prefer and have delighted in: apples, grapes, strawberries and pears in terms of fruit. Additional items I suggest are: nuts, honey, jelly or jam or even a type of mustard. Finally, bread, crostini, or crackers for eating your cheese with. I prefer grilled or toasted that is still soft enough to lap up the cheese, versus crostini, but both will do. It is important that whatever cracker, bread or crostini you use, they are not flavored as to not take away the taste of the cheese.
Before serving the cheese, experts suggest that setting the cheese out about a half hour before eating brings them to room temperature (but this isn’t necessary).
I will finalize this by saying, the display is very important for mouth watering quality. Pay attention to how the cheese is served – is it on a board, a large enough platter or plate so the cheese do not touch and how is it plated (by which cheese is next to each other)? It is also suggested (if applicable) to leave the rind on.
Some Favorite Cheese Plates:
Mateo a favorite local Boulder restaurant has a delicious cheese plate (that Doni has covered before in a restaurant review). Most recently, you can find: cypress grove humboldt fog (from California), petit basque (from France), petit frére [wi, usa], bleu d’auvergne [france], confiture, spiced nuts, fruit (local and in season) and country toast.
Another local favorite of mine is The Kitchen. Their cheese board is delightful, served on a long, wooden board and includes my favorite pairing, honey! Their cheese board consists of: Fourme D’Ambert & local honey, Chevrot & olive tapenade, Roncal & candied almonds with udi’s bread.
For final tips on cheese plates, entertaining and how to create your own, check out the following links:
Fork and Bottle outlines how to make an interesting cheese platter for a dinner or holiday party.
American Cheese Society has a great link on tips for cheese consumers.
Madame Fromage (http://madamefromage.blogspot.com/) talks all thing cheese. It’s a beautiful blog.
A Cup Of Joe features United States Cheese Boards, they’re so fun and beautifully plated.
Cheese plates can be enjoyed many different ways, whether you’re sampling a cheese plate at your favorite restaurant (great to order as an appetizer with a group, preferably paired with a wine) or preparing a cheese plate for a potluck, party or entertaining (great idea, finger food and who doesn’t like cheese?) e-mail me, if you’re disatsified. Seriously. I believe in the cheese!