Help me make a cheese plate.
November 23, 2008 11:34 AM   Subscribe

Help me make a cheese plate for Thanksgiving.

We are probably going to serve the cheeses as appetizers, and also after dinner for those who don't want dessert. I don't know too much about cheeses, and making cheese plates, but I'm adventurous and have been trying plenty lately. I would like to get three or four cheeses.

Two that I am thinking about are Cashel Blue (that I have tried and really enjoyed) and also Humboldt Fog which I have never tried, but a few people have suggested.

Let me know if you think it makes sense to put both of those on a plate and any other suggestions of cheeses I should try. I am thinking about variety, maybe including a cheddar and another hard cheese, maybe gruyere or something along those lines.
posted by hazyspring to Food & Drink (25 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
mmm. Roomkaas. It would probably kill me but I'd gladly eat my weight in this cheese.
posted by Medieval Maven at 11:41 AM on November 23, 2008

I vote for aged gruyere. Mmmmm.

Also, you can dress up the plate with a sprinkling of dried cranberries, small bunches of grapes, figs or thinly-sliced small pears or apples. The sliced fruit will brown a bit, so if you decide to include it, cut it just before serving.

Have a great Thanksgiving!
posted by TEA at 11:44 AM on November 23, 2008

If you're looking for a cheddar, I can't recommend Hook's highly enough. They have aged cheddars of several different chronological varieties, so you can pick whichever one fits your budget or palate.

I know you're not in the Midwest, but we get this stuff in NC, so I bet you can find it in Buffalo.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 11:44 AM on November 23, 2008

Sorry, here's a better link for info about Hook's cheddar.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 11:47 AM on November 23, 2008

Humboldt Fog is truly yummy. Make sure to get a piece with a lot of gooey outer layer rather than firm inner layer. The gooey part is the best.

Additionally, another good, fairly mild, and definitely appropriate for dessert or appetizer blue cheese that you could try is Fourme d'Ambert. I know both blue cheese lovers and haters who have enjoyed this cheese (and it is one of my favorites!)
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel at 11:56 AM on November 23, 2008

Real Parmiggiano-Reggiano is a great addition to any cheese plate. Actually, any meal. Or any time of day.

It's expensive (probably about $16/lb) but you don't need a whole lot. If you have a Whole Foods or Whole Foodsy type place where you are, they can give you other suggestions.
posted by rossination at 12:06 PM on November 23, 2008

I have no experience at all, however, I have made a successful cheese plate or two by going for something blue, something sweet, and something mild. I think for cheese plates variety is the spice of life. Try and get something for everyone.
posted by xammerboy at 12:07 PM on November 23, 2008

Piave (googling around, I've had this) would also be a good choice. It has nutty undertones that are really interesting. Also, it is a harder cheese so good for variety.

If you want something interesting and can spring for it, throw in a good (make sure to taste before buying, quality varies) truffle cheese = omg om nom nom.
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel at 12:16 PM on November 23, 2008

how about a chocolate torta? they're made with goat cheese, chocolate, and usually bourbon soaked raisins. any good cheese shop should have one available. it will likely be more popular than your desserts. around here, they're about 34 bucks a pound (yikes, but worth it)
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 12:20 PM on November 23, 2008

Best answer: An aged Piave is a lovely thing.

Decide on how many cheeses you want to serve; three is good, five is alright, more than that is too much. I'd suggest a goat (like the Fog); a nice bleu - Cashel is fine, Roaring 40s is great (comes in a dark blue wax rind, is on the sweeter side), Point Reyes is pretty sharp and a little crumbly; a hard cheese like aged Piave or Saenkanter (a three-to-four-year Gouda - sublime); a soft-ripened cow's milk cheese that will appeal to any people nervous about cheese, like St. Andre; an English Cheddar - Montgomery's is lovely.

If fresh figs are available where you are, slice a few in half and put them on a plate with the bleu, and maybe some walnuts, too. Slices of fresh apple are lovely with the goat and Cheddar, especially.

If there's a Whole Foods or a good freestanding cheese shop near you, don't be afraid to ask for tastes and advice. Cheeseworkers love to talk about cheese, and turn people on to new cheeses. I used to work at Whole Foods in Specialty, and boy do I love to talk about (and eat) cheese.
posted by rtha at 12:28 PM on November 23, 2008 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Humboldt Fog is delicious. I can also recommend P'tit Basque (get past the silly name and it's lovely). One of my favorites is a five-year aged Gouda with sea salt, but I can't remember the name of the brand. I love Camembert of all kinds. Manchego is a pretty safe bet for those who aren't used to pungent cheeses.

If you can't get fresh figs, look for a jarred compote. Plum compote it also great. Walnuts, pistachios, and Marcona almonds make a great addition.

One thing I've done every time I've served a cheese plate is cut a baguette into slices, drizzle lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, and toast lightly under the broiler. That goes over very, very well.
posted by cooker girl at 12:40 PM on November 23, 2008

mmmmmmmmMimolette for its sweetness and caramel tones. It's a well aged hard cheese and it's my new favorite.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 12:41 PM on November 23, 2008

Best answer: A mnemonic I learned -- I think from Alton Brown? -- for assembling a cheese plate has always seen me through: Something old, something new, something goat, something bleu. Along side the cheese, I serve mixed nuts, dried fruits, fresh apple or pear slices, bread or crackers. Then lots of combo tasting happens (dried apricots + bleu cheese! Apples and sharp cheddar!)
posted by macadamiaranch at 1:21 PM on November 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Another nice complement to all the cheeses listed here -- fuyu persimmons, sliced thinly.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:08 PM on November 23, 2008

For cheddar, I would highly recommend - if you can get it - Grafton Village Cheddar. Not only is it amazingly good, it's the cheese of my birth! (I was born in Grafton.) Seriously though, the reserve cheddar, which is aged for 2 yrs., is about the best cheese I've ever had. I had a cheesegasm.

Brie is also delightful for cheese plates, Presidente is easy to find and is by far my personal favorite.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:44 PM on November 23, 2008

Seconding Manchego which is an aged sheep's cheese which is one of my favorites. I like that little rhyme, macadamiaranch, that's what I usually do, too. And, yes, brie is very accessible to most people. Yum!
posted by amanda at 3:51 PM on November 23, 2008

Smoked gouda and some sliced fruit
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 6:28 PM on November 23, 2008

Drunken Goat, Morbiere and Mahon are three of my recent favorites.
posted by emelenjr at 9:34 PM on November 23, 2008

Best answer: Brie de Meaux is my favourite. It is a really smelly soft brie.

Traditionally you need about 4-5 cheeses:
- Soft Cheese; Brie, Camembert etc
- Hard Cheese; Parmiggiano-Reggiano, hard goats cheese
- Cheddar
- Fruity/sweet cheese
- Blue; Stilton, Gorgonzola

Try to have at least one goat or sheeps cheese. Depending on your crowd, go for 3 'safe' cheeses but include one or two 'challenging' cheeses to experiment and to create a talking point.

Get a good selection of quality crackers, a few bits of celery, carrot sticks, walnuts and apple for cleansing the palate. Have a few knifes to not mix the cheese. Let the cheese sit at room temperature for a few hours. Have a selection of wine!
posted by lamby at 5:22 AM on November 24, 2008

Abbaye de Belloc is a delicious sheep's milk cheese from the Pyrenees that most people won't have had.

Have a selection of wine!

But nothing too fancy; cheese is not a good accompaniment for top-notch wine (despite what you may have heard).
posted by languagehat at 6:44 AM on November 24, 2008

I was taught that you should have at least one soft cheese (like brie), one hard cheese (like cheddar), and one blue cheese. The flavours and the texture should vary. Of course fruit and crackers are well appreciated.
posted by Gor-ella at 7:53 AM on November 24, 2008

A few favs: aged gouda, brie, cambazola.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 8:05 AM on November 24, 2008

macadamiaranch, I use a similar phrase: something old, something new, something smelly, something ewe. And I'm not sure where it fits in to that scheme but my favorite is a good goats milk gouda.
posted by motherly corn at 10:27 AM on November 24, 2008

Response by poster: Here is what I ended up with: Gruyere, Piave, Chistou, Cashel Blue and Humboldt Fog. I wished I could have found a cheddar that interested me, but I didn't.

posted by hazyspring at 12:56 PM on December 1, 2008

Way too late for Thanksgiving, but for everyone interested in guidance on creating a cheese plate, I think this is clever: Artisanal's Cheese Clock (via this Serious Eats post.)

P.S. to hazyspring: Fiscalini cheddar would've been nice.
posted by desuetude at 2:42 PM on January 6, 2009

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