When is a cheese platter not a cheese platter?
- When it’s also a centerpiece,
- When it’s resplendent with nuts and dried fruit, or
- When it’s abundantly over the top.
I have nothing against serving cheese at a party. Cheese is great. Cheese offers all manner of texture and taste. The best cheese platter is one with at least one cheese that I have not tasted before. Then it’s an adventure.
Cubes of mild cheddar and Monterrey Jack are boring, and by boring I mean bland, predictable, uninspired, and overused. Give me some really sharp cheddar, or better yet some Mimolette or aged red Leicester.
Cut the cheese into triangles, squares, rectangles, or rough and jagged chunks. Cubes don’t really go on a cracker or slice of dense pumpernickel. Cut each kind of cheese into a different shape.
And, pair the cheeses with things that enhance their flavors. Nuts and dried fruit are available year round, don’t spoil at room temperature, and are great hors d’oeuvre in their own right. Nuts and fruit go with cheese the way hot chocolate goes with vanilla ice cream. We so often see nuts and fruit spilling out of a cornucopia because they embody the concept of bounty.
It takes 15 minutes to cut the cheese into slices and shapes. You can do this a day or two ahead. It takes 10 minutes to arrange the cheese, nuts, and dried fruit on a huge cutting board or platter.
Add some chocolate and cocktails and you have a party.