Wanna get fancy at your next party? Nothing says gourmet like an expertly crafted cheese plate.
There comes a time in every person's life when it becomes inappropriate to just put out a bowl of chips and dip when throwing a party. It may seem intimidating to put together something as adult-like as a cheese plate, but it's actually super easy and your friends will be totally impressed.
Just keep in mind these easy guidelines and you'll be well on your way to a sophisticated cocktail party.
Include something for everyone
Before heading to the store to pick out your cheeses, consider your guest list. If you've got people with relatively refined palates, then you're safe to go wild. But cheese novices should have some mild options as well – after all, not everyone can appreciate the funky aroma of a camembert.
There are four basic varieties of cheese: aged, soft, firm and blue. The first category includes cheeses like cheddar, comte and gouda; the second features brie and camembert; the third includes the great standbys parmigiano-reggiano and romano; and the fourth variety features cheeses like gorgonzola and stilton.
Cheese can also be categorized by the type of milk used to make it, whether it came from a cow, sheep or goat. You can choose to have a plate with cheese from one type of animal or mix it up – it's your call.
The cheese does not stand alone
You should include some items to go with your array of cheeses. Look for accompaniments that complement the flavors of your cheeses and act as palate cleansers in between tastings.
Crackers and breadsticks are good options, as is sliced baguette, which you can make special by drizzling it with olive oil and toasting in the oven. Aim to include at least two of these items.
Honey, jam, mustard and chutney are all fantastic additions to cheese plates, as they can enhance the flavor of your cheeses while adding a little something extra. You can also consider featuring sliced cured meats, nuts and dried fruit alongside your cheese to make the plate a little more substantial.
Taking it to the next level
Want to get a little more hands-on with your cheese plate? Consider featuring a Parmesan Cheese Ball
with your other options for a DIY accent. You may also want to think about making your own bread to serve, like this Bread Machine Crusty Sourdough Bread