How To Throw Together Minimal Fuss “One Cheese” Platters
I live my foodie life by the age-old adage – sometimes cheese is all you really need.
Of course, it’s not always efficient or practical to put together an all-encompassing platter, no matter how glorious and easy-on-the-eye the end result! So over time, I’ve become well-versed with throwing together ‘one cheese platters,” where less is definitely more. Pick a cheese, pair and plate it well. Minimal fuss and yet it never fails to impress my guests, or elevate a family dinner…
These are a few of my favourite combinations, with tips on choosing the right wine to pour alongside too!
There’s a lot to love about buttery, melt-in-your-mouth burrata… so much so that I let it do all the talking, serving it as the centrepiece with a drizzle of olive oil and cracked black pepper, and crusty chunks of bread (such as ciabatta) for textural contrast.
Fresh ricotta is another favourite. Its soft and mild flavour opens it up to a variety of herby seasonings on top such as basil, chives or even thyme. Add a touch of olive oil and serve it in a bowl, with grilled sourdough on the side to scoop it out onto!
Feta is to the Greeks what cottage cheese is to Indians. It has a distinctly salty flavour as it’s typically brined (stored in salty water). While the versatile cheese can be added to anything and everything from dips and salads to more substantive mains, you can also enjoy it crumbled on toasty flatbreads or similarly, crisp rye crackers. A few olives and fresh tomatoes complete the simple but scrumptious picture!
Here’s another tip. Fresh and non-aging cheeses such as ricotta, burrata or feta pair beautifully with lighter wines. I always opt for a fruity Sauvignon Blanc or a delicate Pinot Noir.
This soft cheese ripens from the outside in, with the soft bloomy rind giving way to creamy, almost liquid edges, around a dense centre. Crisp salted crackers work well with brie, but for something a little more luscious, why not serve it with a zesty citrus-flavoured honey or even honeycomb, which can be spread directly over the brie.
I’d partial to pairing this cheese with a dry and wide-bodied wine such as Chardonnay – its subtle buttery notes complement the creaminess of the brie perfectly! A glass of champagne works just as well too.
Meanwhile, look to more intensely flavoured honey (such as chestnut or truffled-honey for instance), when biting into aged and nutty cheeses such as Parmigiano Reggiano. Alternatively, dipping Parmigiano in balsamic vinegar can just as satisfying, adding a sharp and mildly acidic dimension. Wash it down with a big-bodied wine – think, Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon.
RULES OF THUMB
These are just a few ideas to get you started; you can, of course, play around with different combinations depending on your personal tastes and preferences. Thick-crusted and rustic bread generally work well with both soft and hard cheeses, as do different varieties such as raisin bread, sunflower-seeded loaves or nutty bread.
Just remember to balance textures wisely, so that you enhance the flavour of each element – the cheese, as well as its pairing. If the flavours of the bread or crackers have are excessively strong (such as with garlic and onion crackers), it can quite undesirably mute the flavour of your cheese!