The cheese course is one of the crowning glories of French cuisine. It arrives at the end of the meal, before dessert, because cheese contains enzymes that help with digestion. It’s that simple!
Putting together a wonderful cheese platter is simple too.
Think “less is more”, quality over quantity.
Four cheeses is a great number, with five varieties being a maximum.
Constants, when choosing cheeses:
- Include different textured cheeses, from soft to hard.
- Choose different flavors, from mild to strong.
- Choose different colors, from white to blue.
- Think about seasons – some cheeses, like Vacherin, are strictly seasonal.
- Finally, if you’ve found a cheese that is so special, so amazing, so unusual, serve it by itself.
The other rule of thumb is to serve raw milk cheeses. Raw milk develops and ages in flavor, and gives the best possible flavored cheese. An increasing number of states are allowing the production of raw milk cheeses, and cheeses aged more than sixty days can be imported into the U.S. So, keep an eye out.
Cheese tray options:
Go local: choose four or five locally made cheeses. It’s always nice to mix goat, sheep and cow’s milk cheeses of different textures.
- a young goat cheese
- a soft-rind cheese like Camembert or Pont l’Eveque,
- a soft cheese like St. Felicien
- a mountain cheese like Comte, Beaufort, or Abondance,
- a blue cheese like Bleu d’Auvergne or Roquefort.
Go Blue: you’ll probably want to go international on this.
Go One Perfect Cheese: if you’ve found it, make it THE feature.
- Roquefort Carles or Gabriel Coulet
- Cougar Gold
When it comes to bread, simple and delicious is best. I like to serve baguette, no nuts, no dried fruits, no seeds. This way, the cheese is the star.