Cheese is a perfect dish as well as an appetizer to serve at parties. Aside from its popularity, it has become a conversation piece at many occasions. People love to dig in to a platter of cheese and share their opinions about their favorite cheese dishes. Putting up a cheese platter isn’t difficult. There are also different ways to serve cheese.
Things to Consider
When you have a special occasion coming up and you plan to serve cheese, there are some things you will want to consider.
First, how many people will you be serving and at what time are you serving it? It can be either before dinner, or after dinner. If you will be serving it as an appetizer, you can prepare around one to two ounces of cheese per person. If you’ll be serving it after dinner, about one and a half ounces of cheese per person will do.
Second, what kinds of cheese do you want to include, as well as to avoid? Usually, serving three kinds of cheeses is a good amount. But if you want cheese to be the centerpiece of the event, then you may go for six kinds of cheese. And lastly, you should also consider your budget.
Choosing the Cheese
Another important step in serving cheese is choosing what kinds to buy. There are also some guidelines you can follow when it comes to selecting the kind of cheese you will serve.
- If you will serve cheese for appetizer, choose light cheeses only because serving heavy ones will easily make them full. Some of the good light cheeses to serve are fresh mozzarella and goat cheese. It is also best to serve cheese appetizers that will match the main dish you will be serving. Goat cheese for example is best if you’ll be serving Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes.
- Choose a variety of cheeses. Your guests might enjoy the appetizer more if there are different kinds to choose from. As mentioned before, you can opt for three to six kinds of cheese. Try mixing cheeses from different animals or different locations.
- Develop a theme. Just like how the main dish is prepared, there should also be a theme for your cheese appetizer. You can focus for example on a specific geographic area like cheese from Italy or France. Or, if you want, you can also serve cheese from different countries in the world.
- Choose a cheese made with different types of milk such as cow, goat, and sheep’s milk. This can give your cheese appetizer a variety of flavors.
- You can also pick different cheeses which belong in the same family. For example, choose different styles of blue cheese. This will let your guests appreciate the differences and similarities of cheeses.
Pair them Well
When you serve cheese as an appetizer, it’s also great to pair them with different foods. Here are some good combinations.
- Serve cheese with savory foods. Cheese can taste even better when paired with foods like cured meats, salami, nuts, as well as caramelized onions. However, try to avoid spicy foods as they can overpower the cheese flavor.
- Serve cheese with crackers and breads. Cheese is also good to be paired with crackers and breads but avoid strong flavored ones such as those with garlic and herb flavorings which can overwhelm the flavor of the cheese. Instead, choose French breads and neutral-flavored crackers.
- Serve cheese with sweet fruits. Fruits also go well with cheese but avoid those acidic ones such as orange, grapefruit, and pineapple because they can cause cheese to taste bitter in your mouth. Great fruits to serve with cheese are apples and pears. Dried fruits like raisins will work, too.
- Serve cheese with wine. Cheese with mild flavor are best paired with milder wines. While cheese with strong flavor is great when paired with more robust wines. It’s also best to pair cheeses with wines that came from the same area.
- Serve cheese with beer. Beer and cheese can work together, as well. The rules for pairing them is the same as wine. Strong-flavored cheese goes with strong-flavored beer and vice versa.
Preparing and Serving the Cheese
One of the most important things that will make your cheese appetizer look more enticing is how you prepare and serve it. Here are some tips which may help you.
- Hard, semi-hard, and semi-soft cheeses should be cut into cubes or wedges. This will make it easy for your guests to slice or break them.
- Soft cheeses should be served whole with a knife. It’s because soft cheeses are usually spread on breads and crackers.
- Make sure to serve the cheese at a room temperature. If you refrigerate them, remove them from the fridge at least an hour before serving them. Also, avoid setting them in warm places because they can melt.
- When you serve them or set them up on a table, make sure different kinds of cheese are spaced apart or not too close together. Stronger smelling ones should not be placed near mild ones as they can overwhelm the flavor of the milder cheese. Also, spreading them out will make it easier for your guests to get them.
- If you do not want to serve the cheese precut, make sure to use different knives for each kind of cheese. This way, the flavors will not cross-contaminate one another. For softer cheese, a butter knife will work. For harder cheese, you may need a paring knife.
- Arrange them properly. Place them in an easily visible place. You can arrange them by groups from mild cheeses to stronger ones. You may also put labels on what kind of cheeses they are to help your guests choose.
There will surely be great conversations when you serve the best cheese appetizer. We hope these tips help you in preparing and serving cheese to your guests.