Summer is party season and whether you are hosting yourself or just attending what is better to have up your sleeve than the perfect cheese plate. This requires almost no cooking if that not really your thing, it’s easy to throw together on the go and it is almost always the biggest crowd pleaser. No one really gets mad at cheese, and if they do then I firmly believe you are at the wrong party.
The best part about this cheese plate is that almost everything is store bought, except for one part. One part you make yourself and that very small effort makes this whole thing all that more impressive. That and actually arranging this stuff on a plate to look pretty is what takes this from rolling up to party with a grocery bag and some wrapped up cheeses and a packet of crackers to an actual sincere contribution to the party.
This is not only a crowd pleaser in terms of what people likes to eat it is also almost endlessly adaptable to a number of different wines so people can drink whatever they like and still have it pair pretty nicely.
Recipe wise there is not a lot of steps involved in assembling a cheese plate but here are a few rules of thumb. Pick 3 or 4 different cheese, ideally you want one soft cheese one hard cheese and one that is somewhere in between. In addition you want to pick one or two cheeses that are fairly strong in flavor, either sharp or particularly pungent and one or two that are a little milder. For this cheese plate I chose sharp English white cheddar, some Drunken Goat, which is a semi firm pasteurized goats cheese that has been cured for about 3 days in red wine, and some brie. In additional to the cheeses the plate had fresh red grapes, dried apricots and rosemary sea salt macrona almonds. This means not only is there a nice variety of flavors and texture and colors, there is also a nice variety of ingredients to pair with different wines. The goat cheese goes really well with brighter more acidic wines, something like a Sauvignon Blanc or even a Pinot Noir. The cheddar goes beautifully with bigger fruiter reds, like a Zinfandel. The Brie spans a big range pairing nicely with a slightly bigger richer white like a Chardonnay and a bigger more tannic red like a Cabernet Sauvignon. The fruits pair nicely with a richer more fruit forward wine, something like a Viognier or even a Roussanne. While the almonds add some salt that helps not only balance out all the flavors and some of the richness of the cheese but also because of the herbs provide a great pairing with either a richer wine like a Merlot or an earthier wine like a Pinot Noir.
- 2 cups marcona almonds
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Preheat oven to 325°F
- Add olive oil, sea salt, rosemary and almonds to a bowl and stir to combine and totally coat the almonds.
- Then pour onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until they turn slightly golden brown and become incredibly fragrant.