Party Essential: The Perfect Cheese Platter
We had family over on Saturday night to celebrate my mom's birthday (happy birthday mom!) and I put together a cheese (and meat) platter for everyone to enjoy while I was finishing up cooking dinner.
I love giant platters of really amazing cheese with lots of goodies to go with. There is something for everyone and it's a really great way to get your guests to mingle and chat.
I went to East Nashville's Porter Road Butcher and The Bloomy Rind to pick up the key cheese and meat for my platter. Kathleen at The Bloomy Rind made it SO easy. We chatted about what my guests might like and I tasted several. I ended up with a soft creamy goat cheese (everyone's favorite), a Wisconsin sheep's milk cheese and a raw cow's milk cheese. The guys at Porter Road recommend the most amazing Surry Ham from Virginia (which was gobbled up in the first 10 minutes).
There are several keys that I have found when putting a cheese platter together. The first, and most important, is good quality ingredients. You really don't want to skimp here. Buy really good meat, cheese and fruit. You want only the freshest cheeses that are perfectly ripened. Refrigerate them, and then bring them to room temperature a few hours before serving.
Second, be sure to have a platter or wooden board that is flat and large enough to hold the cheeses without crowding them. I topped mine with a brown parchment paper for easy clean up. Arrange the cheeses with the cut sides facing out with several small cheese knives, and be sure to label everything. It encourages guest to try different kinds and to know what they're eating.
Third, to finish the platter, add sliced breads, crackers, and fruit. Common fruits for platters are grapes and figs. Use what's in season though. I grabbed mandarin and blood oranges because they looked so beautiful at the grocery.
I also like to have a couple of items on the platter that compliments the cheese. Sugared pecans and salted nuts, local honey or even these pesto twists are fun.
All you do is take thawed puff pastry sheets, roll them out, slather on a thin layer of pesto (Pest Recipe HERE), twist and bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Place them up-right in a glass for guests to grab (it will also add a little height to your platter).
Happy Birthday to my sweet mama! Love you!