You may be aware that I'm totally obsessed with cheese, in any form....fondue & platters being my favourite at the moment. Sharing plates are such an easy way of entertaining friends, with very little preparation required so you can enjoy a relaxed evening away from the kitchen. Here's some of my tips for creating the perfect platter. In this post I'm talking about a cheese platter, but these tips could work equally well with other foods.
The platter base
You'll notice throughout the post that personally, I like the natural wood platters. This is just a my preference, other alternatives such a marble or slate platter work equally well, but I like the natural feel for this type of entertaining. If you do go with the wood option, make sure you buy a specific one for food, to ensure that it hasn't been treated with anything harmful.
I like to use a minimum of 4 cheeses for a platter (or fruits, meats, or whatever other type of platter you wish to have). If there's a small group & you're worried about left overs, I suggest going to the cheese counter & just buying a small amount. General concensus seems to be that you should have around 100g (approx 3oz) of cheese per person. Try to get a mix of cheese types, such as;
- Firm - Pecorino Tuscano (sheep cheese), or if you're not feeling adventurous Manchego
- Semi-hard - something with a nutty taste such as Emmental, or Gouda
- Blue cheese - Stilton, or Blue Castello is a good mild option
- Soft cheese; my favourite is goats cheese, but camembert or Feta would work equally well.
As with the cheese, I would suggest using a few different types of breads & crackers. I would't use anything with cheese flavourings to avoid overkill, but something with herbs or fruits in can be great. I try to use a mix of the following;
Plain bread - French Baguette, Tigerbread or a plain loaf thickly sliced works well
Specialty bread - something fruity such as a date & walnut loaf, or herb & sundried tomato is a favourite
Plain crackers or breadsticks
Flavoured crackers or breadsticks - rosemary & seasalt options seem to work well
Fruit in one form or another is definitely a must for the perfect platter. As with the other elements, range is key, so try a few of the following;
- Fresh fruit - figs & grapes are my all time favourites, but apple, melon or pear are also great options
- Dried fruit such as chopped apricots
- Preserves - onion relish or fig jam never fails!
A few added extras are a must, a few ideas are;
- Cured meats - such as palma ham (especially good if you're serving melon as well), chorizo, salami
- Dips - anything along the lines of hummus, tapenade or coleslaw works well, but a simple olive oil dip (with balsamic vinegar & salt) is just as enjoyable
- Antipasti - preserved veg such as artichokes, sundried tomatoes, olives, etc
- Nuts - cashews are my fave, or as an alternative wasabi peas add a bit of spice!
That's about it! In terms of organisation you might want to get a few little serving bowls for any sauces or antipasti & traditionally you use a different knife for each cheese. For those that enjoy wine, I'd definitely suggest visiting your local wine shop for some advice. Generally they can be very helpful with food pairings & are happy for you to tell them what you are serving, as well as your budget & they'll make suggestions. If you're not too familiar with wine types, I always think it's best to go to a specialist, rather than just to the supermarket.
I hope this has inspired you to make your own platter! I'd love to hear from you if you have anything to add to my list, or if you have any feedback - please feel free to leave a comment below....