The Best Cheese Platter, Ever!
Author: Nikki Barnett Date Posted:9 March 2020
The Best Cheese Platter, Ever!
A long time favourite of dinner parties since the early 1900s, the not-so-humble cheese platter gained tremendous popularity through social media sites, especially Instagram with popular hashtags like #cheeseplate or @thatcheeseplate and @cheeseplatebynumbers. Apparently, cheese platters make for trendy pictures, with artful displays of cheese, dried meats, fruits and of course wine!
Rediscovered by the Millenials and Gen-Zers the popularity of cheese platters continues. Unlike baked goods and breadmaking, also growing in popularity, cheese platters do not need any complicated preparation time. Yet they provide the satisfaction of creating something unique, to enjoy with friends and family. Be that a dinner party, just drinks or a BBQ, a well presented, well thought out cheese platter makes every occasion special
Making An Australian Cheese Platter
The cheese platter is of course about the cheese, but it needs to be with the right accompaniments and for that our Emporium gourmet hampers provide the answer. Packed to the brim with gourmet artisan crackers, relishes and tapenades, they complement a cheese platter perfectly. Check out the Red Wine & Nibbles Hamper or the Premium Red & White Wine Hamper. These fabulous gourmet hampers just make your cheeseboard pop.
How do you like to eat your cheese, on its own? With Bread? With crackers? Do you like fruit with the cheese or as a bite in-between to cleanse your palate? Whatever your guest’s preferences are, you need to ensure your cheese platter caters to them.
What Cheeses Should You Select For Your Cheese Platter?
The optimum idea is not to overly complicate your board. Cheese needs looking after and nurturing to ensure it is at its best when served, so best to keep it to a few and serve it in the best possible way.
Most cheeses need to breath and rest, so take your cheese out from the fridge a couple of hours before serving and place on a wooden board covered with a damp tea cloth.
Keep it simple by not putting together a vast selection. You could maybe go for a whole reel centrepiece, like the matured smokey-ham flavour of the nine months aged Stokes Point Smoked Cheddar. Accompany this with about three or four more different cheeses.
An interesting tidbit, the French traditionally serve cheeses in odd numbers, three, five, or seven! Plus, there should never be more cheeses than guests! The suggested reason for the odd number is aesthetics. In art, a good still-life painting has an uneven number of items, so to have your cheeseboard considered art (thinking Instagram here) keep to the correct etiquette.
How do you go about choosing the cheeses? Russell Smith, the Australian chief judge for the Dairy Awards and an independent cheese expert, suggests five essential steps.
Keep an eye open for medals. If the cheese has an award that signifies it is quality.
Think about where to shop for your cheese. A supermarket might not have the high-end artisan cheese you want on your cheese platter. It depends on the supermarket, but you can find some good Australian cheddars at the supermarket level like Bega cheddar. Visit a specialist cheese store, ask for advice and importantly taste the cheese!
Don’t err on the side of caution, be brave, bold and adventurous. Try something new, cheese production is on the increase and new and different flavours are being developed that are bringing changes to how we perceive cheese.
Don’t buy a load; cheese once opened tends to deteriorate quickly. Buy smaller amounts to enjoy them at their best.
Australian Award-Winning Cheeses To Try
Black Pearl - from the Mornington Peninsula, Melbourne
While the exterior of this goat’s milk cheese is not particularly attractive, inside the wrinkly, vine ash coated skin is a creamy white delight. The texture is silky and just oozes onto your palate, while the taste is creamy and mild. Black Pearl is aged for one to two week, at this stage, it is light and fresh, but it matures with a more robust flavour.
Gippsland Blue - from the Victoria region
A cheese that offers a veritable feast of flavour and texture, a slightly runny, creamy cheese with a strong yeasty aroma, found inside its natural rind that is speckled with blue-grey mould. Made in the area of Gippsland, this aromatic cheese is from cow’s milk that is made in the style of Gorgonzola Dolce, with an 8 -10 weeks period to develop its buttery and sweet, yet also slightly tangy and sharp taste.
Roaring Forties Blue - blown in from King Island
Winner of the Grand Champion Blue Cheese at the Australian Grand Dairy Awards in 2019.
Named after the Roaring 40’s winds that whip around the island this blue cheese is a fragrant delight. This creamy and smooth cheese wrapped in a waxed rind is both nutty and fruity that has a sweet flavour leaving you with a lovely aftertaste. This cheese goes well with figs, muscatel grapes, pecan nuts and some special crackers.
Goat on a Hot Tin Roof - a South Australian cheese
Oskjberg and Towerview dairies bring us this pasteurised rindless goat’s cheese, with its soft, creamy texture and explosive taste. Infused with Tanami apples, chilli, pepper berry and saltbush it has a herbal yet spicy kick to its flavour. Drizzle some olive oil over it before serving with preferably warm crusty bread to appreciate it fully.
Mandolin - South Australian semi-hard cheese
This cheese, made from pasteurised cow’s milk, is smear-ripened, meaning it has a wash of a particular bacteria ‘smeared’ onto the rind. During the maturation process, it is frequently washed to provide moisture for the bacteria but to remove any mould that may develop. It is also wrapped in vine until it gains a rusty-red coloured appearance.
The cheese is soft and crumbly in texture with a herbal, almost grassy flavour, fresh and a little stringent.
Section 28 Monte Diavolo
Handcrafted artisan cheese 2018 Grand Dairy Awards – Champion Cheese, Flavoured Cheese Category
An ivory-coloured, smooth cheese that is flavoured by native pepper berries, that creates its distinctive Australian flavour. First, you taste the sweet which is quickly followed by a smoky, peppery, herbal aftertaste. This is a definite must for any cheese platter BUT as only made following the native pepper berry harvest you can only get from April to October - not long to wait to though!
Journey Into The Unknown
Do not limit yourself to the boring, familiar cheeses, experiment, be bold. The increase in the popularity of cheese has seen the proliferation of specialist shops and cheese stalls at farmers markets. Visit them, taste their cheeses, manufacturers love to share their cheeses and will fully educate you as to how they are made and why they are so special.
Think outside the box when putting your cheese platter together, add some grapes, figs, apple, walnuts. Serve with some of the extra special crackers we have in our gourmet hampers and as an alternative buy some fresh sourdough bread and don’t forget good churn of butter to complement the cheese.