Food

A Handy Guide to Creating the Perfect Cheese Plate

I may or may not be obsessed with cheese (are you, too?), so the fact that we live down the street from Murray’s Cheese, the most amazing cheese shop that ever existed, is fabulous and a little dangerous. The shop is packed with incredible cheeses, meats, chocolates, breads and ice creams, and the cheesemongers are geniuses (and give samples!). Toby and I venture over there at least twice a week, and we’re both fatter and happier for it.

So, my darlings, I’m thrilled to present this handy guide to creating the perfect cheese plate! I met with Murray’s head cheesemonger Sydney Willcox to discover her tried-and-true tips, and the lovely Jamie Beck took photos. Here goes…

Overall pointers for putting together a cheese plate:
* When you invite friends over, buy one ounce per person per cheese; and stick to five to six cheeses total.
* Choose a fun variety of cheeses: different textures, countries, and all three milk types (goat, sheep, cow).
* Serve all the cheeses on one big board. You want your guests to start with the mildest and work up to the strongest, so place the cheeses in “clock order”–12 o’clock being the mildest and 11 o’clock being the strongest.
* Take the cheese out of the fridge at least an hour before serving. Cheese should be eaten at room temperature, when it’s at its full flavor and texture.
* Put out a few different knives. Goat and blue cheeses crumble if you use a regular knife, so cheese wires are the best thing to use–if you don’t have one, you can use dental floss! Softer cheeses work best with a butter knife. Harder cheeses, like parmesan, are good with a triangle-shaped knife. Cut circular cheeses in wedges, like a pizza.
* If you have leftovers, don’t store the cheese in Saran Wrap, which will make the cheese sweat and leave a plastic-y taste. Cheese is living and needs to breathe, so wrap it in parchment or wax paper, and keep it in the most humid part of the fridge (usually the vegetable drawer).

Six cheeses for the perfect basic cheese plate:
(pictured clockwise from top)

1. Cremont is a bloomy, rindy, mild cheese, which debuted last year in Vermont. (The name “cremont” is a mix of “cream” and “Vermont”!) The cheese has both cow and goat milk. Luscious, coats your tongue, fudge-y, cake-y.

2. La Tur is the little black dress of cheeses! Everyone loves it. It’s a mix of goat, sheep and cow–which is is pretty unusual. Flavorwise, you get a hint of all three animals–tang from the goat, lingering buttery fat from the sheep, milky sweetness from the cow. The texture feels almost whipped, like savory ice cream! At a party, this insanely popular Italian cheese will disappear first.

3. Pyrenees Brebis. Every single person I’ve has ever met loves this sheep’s milk cheese. It’s a huge crowd-pleaser. A lot of flavor, but very harmonious. Nutty, salty, floral, semi-soft. From the southwest region of France, where there are huge herds of sheep.

4. Cabot Clothbound Cheddar. Cabot makes lots of cheddars, but this is their artisanal (read: fancy!) line. What’s cool about this cheese is that it’s a partnership between Cabot and the Cellars at Jasper Hill–Cabot makes the cheese, which is then aged in the Cellars at Jasper Hill. There’s actually a staff of guys (football-player size!) who flip these cheeses everyday, so they’ll age evenly. The cheese is wrapped in cloth, which is a more English style of making cheese. Super strong cheddar; you get little crystals. You’ll taste peanuts, caramel, earthy flavors. Eat from the inside out; then take the cloth off and then eat the rind–it almost takes like dirt, but it works so well with the other flavors. (P.S. It would make the best grilled cheese you’d ever have in your life.)

5. Pleasant Ridge Reserve. Made with raw Jersey cow’s milk in Wisconsin. Very fruity and smooth. The American Cheese Society just named it “Best in Show” for the third time (it’s the only cheese to have been awarded Best in Show more than once!). You’ve gotta try it.

6. Cambozola Black Label is a very, very delicate blue cheese. Just a tinge of that mineral flavor; very buttery with a bit of a cashew flavor. A great beginning cheese for people who think they might not like blue cheeses. (Once you put it on bread and add a grape, it will mellow out, if you’re feeling timid!) Blue cheeses and chocolate also go together really well–a great balance of salty and sweet.

Pair cheeses with: Dried cherries, walnuts, marcona almonds (I love these!), fresh grapes, crackers and French bread.

Yummy! Thank you so much, Sydney and Murray’s! Have you tried any of these cheeses before? Do you have a different favorite cheese that you’d recommend? I’d love to hear…

P.S. More cheese-y posts!

(Photos by Jamie Beck for Cup of Jo)

  1. Olá mates, como é todos, ​​eo que você desejo dizer sobre o tema da este
    pós, a meu ver a sua na verdade notável for me.

  2. thanks for this article

  3. So, my darlings, I’m thrilled to present this handy guide to creating the perfect cheese plate! I met with Murray’s head cheesemonger Sydney … wikohandy.blogspot.com

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. St. Andre, you guys. It’s a soft cheese, really creamy and buttery (at room temp, it actually tastes like butter).

  6. This plate looks amazing! Have you tried Queijo da Serra? It is a portuguese creamy cheese, it is so soft that you have to eat with a spoon…just amazing :)

  7. I always have a cheese plate. Even if its just dinner for 2. I love getting the “left over” cheese in the grocery store that wasn’t big enough for a regular slice. Its a nice way to save money and text out new cheeses.

    Irene (Fishing Charter Skagway)

  8. WOW! Will try this out next time! :D

  9. I’m throwing a dinner party tomorrow and have been searching for cheese plate inspiration (I know, very underprepared!). This is perfect, thank you!

    takemetocali.blogspot,com

  10. The perfect cheese platter for party guests does not have to be an actual platter. Grandma’s large, well-used wooden cutting board makes a perfect serving platter as well as conversation starter for guests. Look around your kitchen for something with character or quirkiness to use as the serving platter.

    Irene (Alaska Search Marketing)

  11. We happened upon a wonderful restaurant in the Dallas area, and ordered a cheese plate. The cheeses were Goat and Manchego. They served them with berries, honey comb and Marcona almonds and French bread and wafers. It was so perfect.

  12. Oh my goodness, I love cheese. I just bought some the other day, a soft Jarslberg cheese. It was delicious. I almost ate the whole block in one sitting and had to make myself stop.

  13. Great tips! I was once told by a cheese expert that when putting together a cheese plate, a good rule to follow is “something old, something new, something goat, something blue.”

    regards,
    irene of Arizona Garage Door Repair

  14. Oh my lord, I am in LOVE with La Tur! I also recommend dipping Manchego in honey – so good. I am so happy I found a post from a fellow cheese lover :)

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  17. Great advice. I knew Pleasant Ridge would be on the list. It is my favorite.

  18. Cambozola and a glass of red wine is my secret to total relaxation and happiness.

  19. Oooh, yeah. It’s really fun to see so much various cheeses. It’s amazing how such a thing could have so many different textures and flavors, right? The fact that you can serve it as is can be pretty fun (and filling).

  20. We’re starting to explore different cheeses and this article is very helpful. We try to get a new cheese every few weeks or so.

    We’re planning a cheese plate for our next dinner party.

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  22. Yummy yummy.
    Thanks for sharing this ideas.
    I love chees

  23. Anonymous says...

    There are a lot of post here so dont know if it was mentioned but try parmesan cheese dipped in honey…to die for. learned it in italy. thanks for the other ideas

  24. Thanks for the wonderful post! I am curious about whether to slice or cube some of the cheese in advance for your guests? Somehow, a large wedge of cheese can be intimidating. Thoughts?

  25. Humboldt Fog is my favorite. If you haven’t yet, you must try it!

  26. Just seeing this – randomly a recent cheese plate I made actually had two of those listed cheeses on it!

  27. Love this post! I was just telling my sister that we need to live closer so we can share a cheese of the month membership. We’ve decided instead of a move, to make a monthly date to get together and share our love of cheese and conversation!

  28. I *am* obsessed with cheese, too!

    I always say that I have no particular desire to become a wine connoisseur or anything like that, but if I could become a the equivalent with cheese (whatever that would be called) I would.

    I’ve been dreaming of having a great big cheese party for a while now and this is a great guide! Perhaps I can have a weird cheese themed birthday this year.

  29. You look so proud gazing down at your cheese board. And rightly so–it’s a beaut! I loooooove cheese and have enjoyed many a wedge of luscious La Tur and wonderfully nutty Pleasant Ridge Reserve. One of my all time favorites is Winnimere- a winter/spring seasonal cheese by Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont. This insanely good semi-soft raw cow’s milk cheese is washed in lambic ale and wrapped in spruce bark prior to aging. It’s a little stinky but milky-sweet and just an incredible little cheese. Run, don’t walk, to Murray’s and snag some before it’s all gone!

    P.S. What a fun cheese post!

  30. what a fabulous post! I have been known to devour an entire wheel of camembert on my own, though, so i guess i’ll have to share!

  31. Not cheese related, but is your top from Madewell? I have that same top and it’s one of my favorites. I’m kicking myself for not buying two of them.

  32. It’s not exactly cheese board friendly, but Burrata is one of my favorites. Another crowd pleaser is Cotswald Cheddar, which I’ve found at Trader Joe’s.

    Great guide, I love broadening my cheese horizons :)

  33. Love that first cheese platter! I never know how much cheese to get when entertaining and always overbuy, so this post is super helpful… thanks!

  34. Joanna, I have used the “I like to sit still and eat cheese” line so many times with my sporty family and friends! I love Tomme and Ossau Iraty and ok, well all cheese really. Ooh Monte Enebro with honey as well..

  35. mosey, those are beautiful! and a dessert platter is a great idea. and anonymous, thanks for the tip about cakevintage! xoxo

  36. Anonymous says...

    I love the cheese serving papers at cakevintage.com!

  37. Love love love this post. If I could eat cheese for every meal for the rest of my life, I would be a fat and happy little girl. One of my favorites is Humboldt Fog cheese from Cypress Grove Chevre. It just melts in your mouth!

  38. That’s so helpful! I love pear with goat cheese, so I’d probably put that on the fancy platter, too. :)

  39. Can’t wait to try it next time I have a party!

  40. Beemster X-O. Gouda, and oh is it good. This never lasts long at our house, and my 21 month old son loves to eat little pieces of it plain for a snack.

  41. I LOVE cheese. Thank you for posting this. Happy Weekend =)

  42. What a delicious post. Perfect for a wine tasting Party!
    Thank you,
    Cheers:)

  43. Very helpful. You should consider doing a dessert platter, my Mom is an awful baker and is always looking for something to put together for holidays.

  44. some of my favorite evenings are spent eating cheese and drinking wine – love la tur!!

  45. Love this post! I get very excited about cheeses, I wish it was acceptable to eat just cheese for dinner. I agree with other comments…a wine and cheese pairing guide would be another great post!

  46. Yum!

    I’ll have to keep this in mind for my next get together.

    Love serving it straight on the cutting board…so simple and rustic, and easy clean up!

  47. This looks great, a good guideline to follow. This is more or less what I do, but it’s always good to have a handy reminder like this. Thanks.

  48. Ohhhh, a post after my own heart. Thank you for this – I can’t wait to try some new cheeses. One of my favourites right now is local to me (in Northern California) – Cowgirl Creamery. Their Mt. Tam ranks up there with some of the best cheese I’ve ever had.
    They inspire me so much, I took photos. :)
    cheese1
    cheese2

  49. I love marcona almonds too. I like how they’re softer than other almonds, easier on the ol’ chompers.

  50. I don’t eat cheese, but wanted to say that you are beautiful and always look so chic! :) I love your striped boatneck top!

  51. Hi!!
    I would highly recommend some Spanish cheese.
    Torta del casar; Mahón cheese or cabrales (so hard this one). I don’t know if you can find them in USA but if you have some Spanish friend maybe smuggling some.

  52. the globe in the last picture is beautiful! is it second hand?

  53. i am such a sucker for la tur. Gorgeous work my dear – and so much fun to work with Jamie! You’ve done some gorgeous series with her – thank you for sharing!

  54. This makes me want to have people over! I love your cutting board, as well.

  55. Yum! Great tips! My husband and I are huge cheese fanatics (born and raised in Wisconsin and Vermont respectively so it’s really no surprise :)) I can’t wait to try some of your suggestions.

  56. Fabulous! I have bookmarked and will be retuning to this post many times. Thank you for sharing!

  57. what an awesome post! i’m obsessed with cheeses too, especially Spanish ones like Iberico + tetilla. I’ve always been a little confused as to which cheese goes where on the board so this will definitely come in handy! thank you!

  58. Great idea lady! I also love cheese and find myself overwhelmed by all the yumminess when I’m making a cheese plate, so this is so helpful.

  59. thanks for all these fun comments!! stephanie, the one ounce per cheese per person, and 5-6 cheeses total, is when you’re hosting a cheese tasting night, and you wouldn’t be ordering dinner. you’re totally right — you’d really fill up on that!

  60. oh! oh! oh! CHEESE! my life would not be complete w/o my cheese! quite often hubs & I will just have cheeses, fruits & a baguette for dinner

    thanks for putting this together so we can share w our friends!

    my current to die for fav that we found on one of these nights – Il Forteto Boschetto Tartufo w truffles (no, I’m not a cheese snob – I put it in my phone so I would not forget it – YES! that good!)

  61. Ah! Best post ever! Murray’s introduced me to Podda Classico, and my life’s never been the same… It’s a good thing I’m all the way in Ohio, haha! Love your blog, Jo!

  62. joanna this is genius and such a great way to feed guests! i never gave much thought to cheese before, just got nice one and stuck it with some grapes, but now i’m converted! i can’t wait to try that cremont!

  63. I forgot to say that I share the name with a wonderful cheese (what a priviledge, right?), that somebody mentioned above, Ossau Iraty, yum!

  64. This post is so great! I love cheese and the plate looks really good:)Fun Fun!!
    xx

  65. i admit i too have a love affair with cheese. i like to serve it at parties for an appetizer or dessert. if i can’t make it to a speciality cheese shop, trader joe’s has a good selection, my favs their are port salut and brie.

  66. Anonymous says...

    you are funny with your cheese obsession.
    i’m swiss and we have other sorts of cheese here, but when i last was in the us, i discovered some delicious sort of local cheeses coming from massachusset.

  67. i am a crazy cheese head and these tips are awesome! thanks so much!

  68. A great post! I love cheese!! Just had some with my last meal!

  69. Excellent Post! I am hungry all of the sudden too!

  70. love, love, love…cheese – and this post. Thank you. I’m going to have Annie’s mac & cheese now – it’s the only cheese I have in the house at the moment. :( End of the month and all…

  71. oh yum.
    i’m seriously craving cheese now!
    my favourite is an australian club port cheddar.
    and brie.
    love brie.