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Building your own cheese platter is not as difficult as it seems.
I remember when I just moved to the Netherlands. Everyone was talking about how lousy Dutch birthday parties (or any celebration) are. Most people offer cheese squares and sausages with wine, beer and soft drinks. Now I can’t blame them for choosing to serve cheese at a party because, at the end of the day, they do produce some of the best cheeses on this planet. Nibbling on cheese the whole evening at every party can and will get boring at some point, but if you are lucky enough you’ll be able to attend parties where people are more hedonistic. That’s is where I discovered the cheese platter: the artful plating of combining obnoxious—yet delicious—cheese, addictive meat and hipster bites on a platter. From then on I was hooked!
I remember the first time I build my own cheese platter. Everyone loved it and suddenly I went from a college student to respected “housewife”, though after that party, I was more broke than my college days. Serving a cheese platter for a party of 20 is even more expensive than hosting a party for 50 people.
But, I still did it and I will keep doing it because people love cheese platters. The fun thing about it is that you prepare everything beforehand and build it right before or during your party. It’s super easy to create but if you’re not a cheese know-it-all it might be hard to know what to buy and how to make it look pretty.
There’s no recipe on how to build a cheese board and no real rules. What I will offer is more of a guideline so you don’t feel overwhelmed.
Start by choosing your cheese. How much cheese you need depends on how many people will attend and what else you are going to offer. Depending on who I invite, like this time, I like to have more cheese than meat. For 4 persons 4-6 pieces of cheese are good. You’ll have enough option for everyone. I noticed that hard cheeses are always more wanted which is why I always have more hard cheese than soft cheeses.
- Hard & Semi-hard cheeses (traditional or special flavor aged Gouda, Parmigiano, Grana Padano, Manchego)
- Soft & Semi-soft cheeses: (Brie, Camembert, Port Salut, Pyrenees, Provolone)
Fruits, Veggies & Nuts
Though fruits, veggies and nuts are not the main components of a cheese board I like to add this one right after the cheese, because then I know for sure that I won’t be leaving it out. A lot of people prefer to use fruit as filler, but if your board is pretty filled up at the end you will most likely choose to skip these. Since I know there is always someone who is vegan, on a diet or simply don’t like cheese that much, it is important to have something for them. I always choose grapes, since they pair well with cheese, pickles and pickled onions. Then I add (a bowl of) nuts and raisins.
The second important part of your cheese board is the meat. Italian and Spanish cured meats are my go to like:
- Italian: salami or prosciutto
- Spanish: jamón serrano, jamón ibérico, chorizo or fuet
Crackers & Salties
Next, I add some crackers for people to eat their cheese with and I add some salties like salty breadsticks. You can also add pretzels or any other salty cracker.
The final touch is adding some sort of jam, chutney, pesto or any other sort of spread. Chutneys are my favorite, for the sweet and salty combo, but I often add pesto as well—for a hearty touch. Eventually, the spread you choose depends on the type of cheese you have.