‘Tis the season of family and friends and non stop parties. My go to holiday appetizer is a cheese platter. Cheese platters can be arranged ahead of time, include a variety of tastes and textures, make easy finger food and you can listen to Christmas music and relax while having a creative moment composing your cheese platter. Shopping at Trader Joes will simplify this appetizer choice because they offer a wide variety of cheeses at great prices and the “extras” to create a deliciously stunning holiday cheese platter.
Just a few cheese platter guidelines for success.
1. Offer 3-5 different cheeses from a variety of milk; cow, goat, sheep. Include different textures; soft, semi-hard, hard and a blue cheese.
Below are my selections –
Cranberry Chevre – a goat milk cheese rolled in cranberries. A seasonal cheese at Trader Joes that is festive for a holiday platter.
Le Délice de Bourgogne – a cow milk triple cream soft ripened cheese
Manchego– a sheep milk firm with a buttery texture, not too strong.
Isle of Arran a Scottish Cheddar– a cow milk cheese, extra matured cheddar.
Roquefort– a sheep milk blue, semi-hard and tangy
2. Add a few seasonal fruits, nuts, crackers or bread and some savory elements like salami, olives, pickles. And a fruit jam/chutney and/or mustard.
I used Trader Joes “Raisin Rosemary Crisps,” Rosemary Breadsticks, a Spanish brand deli selection of meats, mixed Greek Olives, grapes, apples, Asian pears, Marcona almonds, La Panzanella mini croccantini crackers and a local Fig Pomegranate Jam. (Check your pantry before you go shopping)
3. Precut your cheeses BEFORE placing them on your serving platter.
This will avoid a big ugly mess after the first person cuts into the cheese. It also allows you to fill your platter and make it look plentiful. ALWAYS keep the integrity of the original shape for example, triangle wedge cheeses cut into triangle slices. SLICES NOT CUBES! For soft cheeses use a cheese knife with holes in the blade or unflavored unwaxed dental floss for cutting.
4. Take your cheese platter out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before your guests arrive. Cold cheese has less flavor.
My wine pairing suggestion is a Mumm Napa Brut Prestige. This sparkling wine will complement the assortment of cheeses with its low alcohol and mild acidity.
Cheers to the Holidays!