Choosing the Cheese
The perfect cheese platter offers a variety of flavours and textures along with tasty accompaniments. Choose cheeses that are familiar as well as some new and surprising flavours. According to Atco Blue Flame Kitchen, an incredible cheese platter should combine some soft and some hard cheeses as well as strong and mild flavours.
Choices for soft cheeses might include milder camembert and brie, which are both delicious and incredibly creamy. Jarlsberg is a mild, buttery cheese that is a nice addition to any cheese platter. Stronger soft cheeses like gorgonzola or Roquefort are a good contrast to the milder flavours. The goal is to find a pleasing balance.
For harder cheese, consider adding an aged cheddar. The aging process adds a pleasant sharpness which contrasts nicely with the softer, creamier cheeses. Hard cheeses marbled with wine or port add a touch of colour. Parmigiano-Reggiano is an often-overlooked hard cheese that is delicious in a cheese platter. It adds a nice saltiness that is a little unexpected.
Building a cheese platter requires a few ingredients beyond the cheese. Follow your own personal tastes or even what you have in the pantry. Bread and/or crackers are perfect to eat with cheese, especially with the softer cheese varieties. Pickled vegetables, jams, jellies, and chutneys all pair nicely with a wide variety of cheeses. Add fresh fruit like grapes, apple slices or strawberries. Nuts also make a nice addition. Experimenting with flavour combinations can be a really fun part of your date night.
Building the Cheese Platter
It is easy to go overboard when building a cheese platter for two people. Aim for about 1/3 of a pound per person if the cheese platter will be the main meal or 1/4 pound per person if there will be other food to go with it. Shopping at a cheese counter or specialty cheese shop makes it easier to buy smaller quantities of a larger variety of cheeses.
Calgary Co-op suggests starting with a wooden cutting board or serving tray when assembling a cheese platter. Cheese can either be cut into cubes or the larger pieces placed on the board. Try to keep stronger cheese away from milder cheese so the flavours do not mingle too much. After all the cheese has been arranged, fill in the gaps with the accompaniments and finish off with some fresh herbs for garnish.
A gorgeous cheese platter should be carefully paired with the perfect drinks. Non-alcoholic choices include sparkling water with a twist of lemon, artisan citrus soda like Limonata, teas and even an excellent cup of coffee. These drinks all match well with the richness of the cheeses.
For wine pairings, the Dairy Farmers of Canada suggests different wines for different cheeses. They pair soft, mild cheeses with fruitier wines like Gewürztraminer or Riesling. Stronger soft cheeses go well with drier wines like Cabernet Sauvignon.
Firm, bold cheeses like aged cheddar go well with full-bodied red wines like Bordeaux or Chianti. Try a dry white or sherry with Parmigiano-Reggiano.
The most important part of building a cheese platter together for your date night is having fun. Choose ingredients that you both like as well as a few new things to try. Enjoy yourselves, talk and take a moment to relax together.