Your social calendar is packed to the brim with dinner parties, family activities and holiday festivities with loved ones. Whether you are hosting or attending as a guest, providing something delectable will always be a welcome addition to the celebration. Loved around the world, a scrumptious cheese platter is guaranteed to tempt everyone’s palate and be the perfect conversation starter.

Creating a delicious and interesting cheese platter is easier than you think if you make use of a few tips and tricks trusted by expert chefs. These four ideas will ensure your platter not only embodies the perfect array of cheeses but also showcases your personal taste and style.

The right varieties and correct amounts
Confused about how many varieties of cheese to buy? And how much is needed for your size gathering? The goal is to give people a nice selection of cheeses to sample without overwhelming them; three to five cheeses typically will do the trick. A simple way to ensure a nice spread is to make selections based on the type of milk used to create the cheeses. For example, cow, sheep and goat’s milk all create very different kinds of cheeses, and knowing about these differences can help you make better choices when shopping. Prepare 4-6 ounces per person if cheese is the main food, and serve more or less depending on the time of day, whether other foods are served and the type of celebration. When in doubt, reference this handy online cheese calculator at www.dcicheeseco.com/party.

Add an aged-cheddar flight 
Do you love cheddar? You’re not alone, as it’s one of the most universally enjoyed cheese varieties. That’s why a flight of different cheddar cheeses is sure to capture your guests’ attention while satisfying their hunger pangs. Try selecting three different cheddars for people to taste – odd numbers always present well on a plate. Black Creek’s premium cheddar cheeses made in Wisconsin are aged for nine months, two years or even three years, and they feature a rich, sharp flavor. Pre-cut the cheese into cubes and place the pieces on the platter, or you can allow guests to cut their own. Educate guests by adorning each cheese with a candle featuring the number of years that the cheese is aged.

 

Create a worldly theme
Want a crowd-pleasing theme for your cheese plate? Create a “Tour of Europe” platter that will delight taste buds while letting guests try different cheese styles. Start with mild flavors, including French cheeses like brie and camembert that offer a soft texture. Next, guests can visit Italy when they sample Stella Italian-style cheeses like full-flavored parmesan or rich, semi-sweet asiago. Finish with flavorful cheeses from Holland and Denmark, like extra-aged Gouda or nutty Edam. Add flags to your cheese offerings denoting each one’s nationality for the perfect finishing touch.

Accompaniments, preparation and presentation
The sky is the limit when it comes to serving vessels. Go traditional with a wood cutting board or get creative by using marble tile or colorful vintage glass platters. Arrange cheeses artfully on the platter about an hour before guests arrive, as room-temperature cheese maximizes each variety’s flavor. Finally, remember no plate is complete without a selection of garnishes like crackers, bread, fresh or dried fruit, nuts, olives and meats. Then sit back and watch as guests munch away and strike up conversation.

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