Gastronomic meals are occasions to gather with family and friends. They are the pleasure of sharing an enjoyable moment, by preparing a selection of dishes and pairing them with good wines. The gastronomic meal follows a fixed structure, starting with appetizers and drinks and ending with coffee and liqueurs, with at least four courses, a starter, fish and/or meat with vegetables, cheese and dessert. Here are a few guidelines for one of those courses: the French cheese platter.
The French cheese platter
Creating a beautiful French cheese platter for guests follows certain rules. There are over 350 French cheeses to choose from when preparing a cheese platter; so it’s not surprising that someone invented some sort of structure in these choices, classifying them by origin and texture. To start with, present between 5 to 9 choices, including something from each milk origin (cow, sheep, or goat). Prepare between 50 to 100 grams per person.
Serve from the four cheese families. Ideally serve at least 2 cheeses from each family that way everyone finds something they like. For example,
- hard cheese like Gruyere, Comté, Beaufort
- soft cheese like Camembert, Brie, Munster
- blue-veined cheese like Roquefort, Fourme d’Ambert, Gex
- goat cheese like Crottin de Chavignol, Saint Maure de Tourraine , Cabécou
Again there are over 350 cheeses to choose from so forgive me if I didn’t mention your favorite cheese in this list. You can even follow a theme like choose cheeses that represent only one region, or make a cheese platter from purely artisanal cheeses.
Cheese is like good wine. It needs to be served at room temperature.
Prepare the platter at least an hour in advance. Cheese is like good wine. It needs to be served at room temperature.
Placing each cheese is important depending on the size and choice of the platter. The most important thing to consider when placing the cheese is how to serve it easily. Softer cheeses are placed on the interior because the harder cheeses need more force when cutting, so they need to be placed on the exterior. Play with sizes and shapes. Some people even recommend arranging the mild cheese to stronger cheeses clockwise.
Decorate with natural products whose tastes agree with the cheeses; Herbs, nuts, or dried fruit. When serving the cheese, round cheeses are cut like a pie wedges. The others are sliced. Take the rind that goes with your portion, don’t leave all the rind for the last one served. It’s nice to have several cheese knives so that the flavors of the stronger cheeses aren’t mixed into the others.
Try not to serve uncut cheeses. Guests hesitate to cut into it. The choice of wine is a matter of individual choice. Ideally choose one strong red, one lighter red for stronger cheeses, and why not a dry white. It’s even become trendy to serve beer or even hot tea with cheese. Offer a bread basket with a variety of breads. There are many more choices to French bread than a baguette!
Creating a cheese platter is so much more than filling your guests’ stomachs. It’s even more than satisfying the taste buds. It’s that French “art de vivre”.