how to make a cheese plate …

October 20, 2014

I love a good cheese plate!  I was lucky to be around good quality cheese from a young age with my Father being from France.  You just can’t beat quality cheese!  I’m excited to partner with Harmons Grocery on this post, they have the best selection of cheese in Utah, and they really know their stuff.
Harmons sent me to their Holiday Cheese show last month, an event they put on for their employees to taste and learn about all the new cheeses, chocolates, and oils they will carry at their stores.  All of their  distributors were there, and it was amazing to see the care and education that goes into their stores when it comes to cheese.  It was neat to be able to discuss the different cheeses, from many of the vendors, including several local companies which I love to buy local!  It was great to see Harmons care so much about their customers to send their employees regularly to these events to taste, and learn about their selections to pass the information along to their customers.
I was able to try some new flavors of my favorite flavored oils by Sciabica’s.  These flavored oils are amazing, and I use them quite a bit in my cooking at home.  I love the garlic and lemon flavors!
One of my favorite cheeses I tried (and, I tried a LOT) was the Cheddar Cheese with caramelized onions.  Caramelized onions in anything is alright with me!
The cheese event couldn’t have come at a better time, because I was able to sample so many cheeses and figure out a few favorites for a cheese plate I was putting together for an event I was having.
With the help of some of Harmons expert Cheese Mongers, I was able to select a few good options for my cheese plate.
They are very knowledgeable about cheese, with lots of training and information they learn at events like the Holiday cheese show.  They really know their stuff, and have personal relationships with many of the vendors and have tasted the cheeses, which is really helpful when you are asking for suggestions.
I love the flavor of goat cheese.  It is a classic alone, but can always be paired so well.  I lot these local made Pepperlane preserves.  They come in so many flavors, I love the little kick of jalepenos mixed with something sweet.  My favorite is the apricot flavor, pour over a little goat cheese.
Another great discovery I made at the cheese event was the 34 Degrees savory crisp crackers.  I love their light crispy texture, and their many flavors.  My favorite are the plain, rosemary, and cracked pepper.  I highly suggest these crispy crackers to pair with your cheese plate.  And, they look fancy too!
I also love to pair cheese with a good quality baguette.  I love the bakery at Harmons, they are homemade with quality ingredients. And, super friendly.  Our local bread specialist Brady is always so nice to my kids, even when they ask for bread samples all the time, and we are there a lot.  
My favorite is that they will slice the bread for you to your liking, which comes in handy when you are in a hurry getting details of your event together.  No time for slicing myself!
I ended up choosing a little selection of my favorite cheeses, here’s the run down:
1) White Stilton with Mango and Ginger- This is technically a dessert cheese, but it is so flavorful and such a unique combination of flavors in a cheese.
2) Rembrant Gouda-  I love a classic Gouda, always a crowd pleaser.
3) Manchego from Spain-  At the cheese event, I found that I prefer a younger Manchego.  This one was aged for only six months.  It is softer and has a fresher flavor to me.
4) Brie de Nangis-  This was my favorite cheese I tried at the cheese event!  I love a good Brie, and this one was creamy and perfect with lots of flavor like a good Brie should have!  Probably my favorite Brie I have had!
5) Goat Cheese with Jalepeno Jelly-  This is a favorite pairing of mine!
6) St Agur Blue Cheese-  I love a good blue cheese.  It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I love that strong flavor.  This double cream was a good choice.
7) Kerry Gold Cheddar- I wanted to make sure that my guests who weren’t as adventurous with cheese had some good options.  This is a very flavorful cheese, but it isn’t as scary to some as a soft cheese.
I also love to pair cheese with things other than just bread and crackers.  But, for the event I was putting together there was some other food options so I chose to keep it simple.
But, I still wanted to share with you some of my favorite things to pair with cheese are:
I love to pair cheeses with nuts.  Generally I use almonds, pecans, and walnuts.  If you serve them slightly toasted it brings out their flavor.  Just 5-10 minutes in a 350 degree oven will do the trick.
I love to eat these with cheese, since they are typically sweet, they give a nice compliment to the saltiness of most cheeses.  Apricot preserves and honey are my favorites.
Fresh fruits and dried fruits go amazing with cheese!
I love a nice ripe pear with blue cheese, or have you had blueberries with warm brie?  C’est magnifique!
Some of my other favorite fruits with cheese are: apples, grapes, strawberries raspberries, figs, and dates.
Some good quality olives can add a lot to cheese.  The briny flavor of the olives can contrast with the richness of some cheeses.
A nice cured meat can add a nice salty textural difference to your cheese.   I love a nice prosciutto or other fine Italian meats.
I love to eat cheese in my salads!  Cheese can taste amazing when mixed with greens and a nice vinaigrette.  My favorite cheese in salads would have to be: goat cheese, feta cheese, and blue cheese.
This spread was the perfect addition to my housewarming party I recently had.  Cheese plates are the perfect addition to a party, holiday table, or even gifts.  I gift fancy cheese to my dad all the time because I know he loves it!
There’s no a lot better than gathering with your friends around a nice plate of cheese.  In fact, we gathered around that plate late into the night and chatted, and sampled all of that cheese.  So good!
And, I don’t know about you, but I’m totally craving a good cheese plate now.
See more from my housewarming party here.
Thanks Harmons Grocery for partnering with me on this post.
Photos by: me (Caroline Drake), LC Photography UT, and Jessica Kettle Photography

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *