planning Part 1
By Taylor Melton
Translated by Anna Yang
A meat-and-cheese platter with accompanying wines can add both class and adventure to a dinner party. While putting together a meat-and-cheese board might seem quite daunting at first, it can be relatively easy.
Cheese--Let the cheese be the star of the show. Variety is ideal, including different textures and milks, so pick at least three different types. Some examples include:
a) Soft or fresh cheeses (Brie, Mozzarella, Camambert) aren't very old with milky flavors and can often be spread on crackers.
b) Medium-hard cheeses (Gouda, Cheddar, Emmentaler) are firmer in texture, have been aged longer and feature stronger flavors.
c) Hard Cheeses (Pecorino Romano, Parmesian) are incredibly hard and have been aged for months or even years.
d) Blue Cheeses (Stilton, Rocquefort, Gorgonzola), containing veins of blue mold and offering strong odors and equally-strong flavors, are for adventurous eaters only.
Meat--There are two types of cured meats, whole muscle (prosciutto, ham) and encased (salami). Incorporate at least one of each on the board. The sweetness of whole muscle variety tend to pair well with saltier hard cheeses whereas the tangy, peppery encased meats add excitement to medium-hard cheeses.
Bread and crackers--A selection of bread and crackers can provide a much-needed added crunch. Stay with light-flavored types like baguettes, plain crackers, or toast.
Something pickled--Pickled vegetables are a perfect, contrasting addition to a platter with an acidity that cuts through the richness of the cheeses to provide a nice palate cleanser. Go with black and green olives and gherkins.
Spreads--Sweet and savory spreads further enhance the flavors of meats and cheeses. Honey and jams are great for soft and blue cheeses. Coarse-grain mustard complements salami and older cheeses. Suggestion: Combine coarse-grain mustard with chopped dried figs for a delectable spread.
Fruit and nuts--Seasonal fruit are a great addition to raisins, grapes and dried apricots. Add any nuts that you or your guests may like.
Serving--Allow the cheeses to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to bring out flavors. Serve everything sliced on the board.