How to Build a Cheese Plate, Platter or Board

One of our most popular cheese classes has been "How to Build a Cheese Plate, Platter or Board," which shows how popular cheese has become. Most of these classes fill up quickly and many people are left out, so our Imported Cheese Specialists share the advice they impart at this sold-out class. They have even created themed cheese plates for the upcoming months to help take the guess work out of selecting from the vast variety of cheeses available.

Step One: Find a good cheese monger

"The Cheese Specialists at all of our markets are trained in the nuances of all the cheeses in their department," said Scott Zeinert, Imported Cheese Specialist at our Woodbury Market. "They are your best resource when you need help exploring the world of cheese."

Goat Cheese PlatterStep Two: How much to buy?

A good rule of thumb to follow is "less is more." Usually one to two ounces of cheese per person is plenty when offering five to ten cheeses. "Cheese can be served for a tasting, appetizer, main course or after dinner plate, so decide how you will be using your cheeses so you don’t over-purchase," offers Jody Dahlgren, Lyndale Market Cheese Specialist.

Step Three: Purchasing cheeses

"When selecting the cheeses you will serve, learn as much about them as you can," suggests Amy Ellis from our Grand Avenue Market. "Examine the cheeses, their labels, wrappers or rind markings. Find out where it comes from, who makes it, the type of milk used and type of rind. These are all things you will want to pass on to your guests or just learn to make yourself more knowledgeable about the cheeses you enjoy."

Step Four: Serving the cheeses

Once you have selected your cheeses, you'll want to serve them in such a way as to get the most enjoyment from them. Here are some easy tips you'll want to use no matter what cheese you will be serving:

  • Always serve cheese at room temperature, between 65° and 75°. Taking them out of the refrigerator about an hour before serving will bring them to the proper temperature.
  • Use a separate knife for cutting each cheese in order to keep the flavors from becoming one.
  • Arrange the cheeses on your platter in order of younger to older, lighter to heavier, milder to stronger. Start at the six o’clock position and move around the plate clockwise.
  • When selecting fresh bread or crackers to serve with your cheese, think in terms of balance. Robust cheeses like Cheddar or Gruyère call for a more flavorful, coarse-textured bread. Mild white breads go best with more delicate cheeses like Brie. Raisin walnut bread goes well with blue or stronger, saltier types of cheese.
  • Fruit is also an easy and beautiful addition to a cheese platter. Pears, apples and melons make great pairings, along with dates, figs, quince paste and dried apricots.
  • Tossing in a few nuts, such as Marcona almonds, caramelized walnuts or pecans add a nice garnish as well.

To save you time, we have created four seasonal cheese platters to help get you started. A wooden cutting board, pottery platter or marble slab makes for an attractive serving piece. We even sprayed a square ceramic tile with chalkboard paint and created our own platter that provides a unique way to display and identify each cheese. No matter how simple or elaborate your presentation, you’ll love the adventure of discovering the "joy of good cheese!"

Winter Platter

  • Essex Comté
  • Winnemere
  • Big Woods Blue
  • The Fine Cheese Company Fig Purée

Valentine's Platter

  • Brillat-Savarin
  • Fleur du Maquis
  • Velours Bleu
  • The Fine Cheese Company Gooseberry Purée

Spring Goat Cheese Platter (when goat cheese is at its best!)

  • Roves des Garrigues
  • Bardwell Manchester
  • Coach Farms Triple Cream
  • Italian Sour Cherry Balsamic Compote

Easter Brunch Platter

  • Chaubier
  • Bent River Camembert
  • Spring Brook Tarentaise
  • Ames Farm Honey

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