There’s almost nothing I love more than a plate full of fine meats and cheeses! HA. No. But seriously. Are you ever mad when someone puts out a beautiful cheese platter? NO! For Alison’s BFF Bash, the party I did in conjunction with my online course Party With Alison: a step-by-step guide on how to throw any type of party, I did a dessert tasting as the main event for my guests. But I wanted there to be something salty for people to munch on when they arrived. Especially if they hadn’t had a chance to eat dinner.
The party started at 8pm and I made it clear that I would be serving “light appetizers and dessert.” So I knew people wouldn’t be relying on this as dinner, but I know sometimes you just run out of time and I didn’t want to overwhelm people with just sweets! One of my tips in Party With Alison is to be specific about what food will be served at your event so people can plan accordingly!
Another thing I talk about in Party With Alison is utilizing friends and other professionals to help you whenever you can afford to do so! So I hired my good friend Shauna Boyack to make a beautiful and balanced cheese plate and a gorgeous spread for my guests. This way I could focus on recording the footage for the course, and prepping the space. And Shauna could just be in charge of all things delicious. People could NOT stop talking about this spread. It was SO good. After the party my team and I stood around the table, like we were at a trough, shoveling the leftovers into our faces. Then I shooed them away, packed up anything that was left, and went home to eat the rest of it at like 2am. Yes mam!
I really think it’s an art and a talent to compose a beautiful and balanced cheese plate. Shauna thinks about her pairings and assortment SO MUCH, and it really pays off. So I had Shauna break down JUST how she did it so you can feel like the host or hostess with the most the next time you need to!
So take it away Shauna!
STEP 1: Choose Your Cheese
I start with the cheese (obviously, ha!) and build the plate from there.
You want to have a variety of quality cheeses. So head to your local cheese shop or a speciality grocery store. You don’t want to overwhelm the platter so generally I choose one of each of these 3 varieties of cheeses:
1. A hard cheese: such as Parmesan, Asiago, or a type of Gouda we also used a Merlot BellaVitano.
2. A semi-soft (strong) cheese: such as blue cheese. I like to go for my favorite Blue Smokehaus Amish, if you can find it! It’s well worth the splurge, or a Gorgonzola–which is an Italian version of blue cheese that’s a bit more subtle than a straight blue.
3. A soft cheese: like goat cheese or soft ripe Brie. I buy the goat cheese logs and roll them in sweet blueberries or salty pistachios and cranberries. You could use any nut or dried fruit you thought sounded yummy. The sky is the limit!
If you are unsure what category a cheese falls into, you can always look it up online! Cheeses have Wiki pages, haha, and they can tell you if a cheese is hard, or semi-hard, or you can always ask a specialty grocer if you have one!
STEP 2: Add Some Fine Meats!
Choose 1 or 2 dried cured meats: These need to be salty and good quality. I like them sliced very thin to accompany the cheese not overwhelm it. Sausage, dried salami and/or prosciutto are all very good choices. I choose one or two of these dried cured meats.
STEP 3: Bread/Crackers/Crostini
A fresh baguette cut or torn, crostini and good quality crackers go a long way. Basically just look in the store for anything that looks yummy! This is your vehicle to hold and carry your cheeses, meats, nuts and spread. Make sure you have plenty. You can always replenish your tray throughout the night.
STEP 4: Jams and Chutneys
I usually use one sweet jam and a spicy/sweet chutney to accompany the cheese. My favorite include Fig jam (or any fruity jam or jelly will do) and a spicy sweet chutney. My personal favorite is a local jalapeño apricot that’s beyond delicious!
STEP 5: Dried and/or fresh fruit
I like to build height to my cheese platter by adding a bunch of purple/or black grapes, strawberries or a sprinkling of blackberries. My favorite fruity addition to the platter is a dried fig. They are pretty sliced or cut in wedges and compliment the cheeses nicely.
STEP 6: Nuts and Seeds
I like nuts and seeds to add crunch and saltiness to the plate. I use Macrona almonds, smoked almonds, salted cashews and/or pistachios. Also, toasted pumpkin seeds add a nice crunch. BUT! If you’re looking to save money, this is something you could cut from the spread, or just choose one or two.
Add some signage and some beautiful serve ware, and you’re all set!
I really like to label cheeses because when I eat cheeses I LOVE knowing what I’m eating. This is because I’m a nerd, and I love to learn! This is for sure not something you HAVE to do, but I find that guests like knowing.
Also some cheesy food-table signage is a bonus. HAHAHA.
This was for about 30 people, and it was plenty! But these were the only apps we had and I wanted them LUSH!
How amazing is Shauna!? I seriously want to go to the store right now and create a cheese plate. I hope you guys loved this as much as I did! Ha. And let me know if you create something fabulous with it!
Be sure to check out my Party Food Pinterest board, my AMAZING course Party With Alison, and my FAVORITE thing to make for a group: this Orzo Pasta Recipe. It’s so good. Oh my gosh this pregnant lady is obviously starving. Seriously this is ridiculous.
Party on friends!
Cheese signage and posters by Hello Tosha