Building a Cheese Plate

Today I spent 45 minutes at the grocery talking to the guy behind the cheese counter. I wanted to know anything and everything about cheese. He walked me through fresh cheese, semi-soft, soft ripened, surface ripened, semi-hard, hard and bleu. WHEW. I left the store feeling educated and sophisticated.

Here’s what I figured out: cheese is expensive as shit, there’s a million different varieties, and building the perfect cheese plate can be life changing.

Image

I finally left the store with 4 different cheeses, mixed nuts, fig jam, prosciutto, dried figs, an apple and a baguette.  I bought a wedge of bleu d’auvergne, harbison (VERY soft cheese), an espresso bellavitano  (kind of a mix between parmesan and gouda), and finally, a classic English white cheddar.

bleu

nuts

fig jam

fox

How gorgeous is this tray? I love foxes, and plan on serving all my meals on this tray.

pros

cheddar

Okay, so after all those pictures, here’s a rundown of what I learned today when it comes to different types of cheese:

1. Fresh- ready to eat as soon as its made. No aging is required, and most of the time fresh cheese is pretty mild.

2. Semi-soft- often aged from a few days to a few months. Semi-soft cheese melts beautifully under slight heat.

3. Soft ripened- white rind, creamy interior. This type of cheese actually gets softer as it ages.

4. Surface- ripened- wrinkly rind, has an intensely flavored interior.

5. Semi- hard- this can range from cheddar to gouda, and is aged for a few months, years, or even longer.

6. Hard- defined by its firmness. Typically has a granular texture with a salty & sharp taste.

7. Bleu- bleu cheese gets its “blue” color from the rich veins of mold and range in texture from creamy, to crumbly,  to hard.

8. Washed rind – the rind is typically orange-y/pink, because it has been rubbed with a solution of salt water and beneficial bacteria. Washed rind cheeses are often described as stinky, but their smell is sometimes stronger than they taste.

Finally,  let’s talk about things that go with the cheese. As I mentioned previously, I decided to pair the cheese I bought with mixed nuts, dried figs, prosciutto, apple slices, fig jam and thin slices of baguette. You really can’t go wrong when it comes to picking accompaniments.  Pear slices, any dried fruit, crackers, good olive oil, these are all things you can serve with your cheese.

I hope everyone has a beautiful week! As always, feel free to email me with any questions.

 

 

 

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8 thoughts on “Building a Cheese Plate

  1. Looks fab and thanks for the great info! Very timely as my daughter and I are contemplating a cheese plate for our Thanksgiving table, or the evening before, or tomorrow….or now? Yum!

  2. After reading this, I feel like I was the one who spent all that time with the “cheese-man”. It seems like every cheese plate I ever made was always the same, now I have a better idea how to build the right cheese plate and make it interesting every time. Thanks for doing this and bring one for Thanksgiving when you come over…please??????

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