If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen me post some photos from the blogger briefing session I attended for the Dairy Australia Scientific Symposium on the drivers and unintended consequences of dairy and wheat avoidance.
I was very lucky to be in the company of some of Australia’s leading nutrition bloggers, like Catherine Saxelby, Tim Crowe, Glenn Cardwell and of course our lovely host for the day Emma Stirling. It was also a chance to get to meet some online friends for the first time like Ashley Ng, Karen Kingham and Jenna Obeid and catch up with old friends Camilla Ferraro and Teri Lichtenstein.
There was lots of sciencey talk about dairy and calcium and absorption and bioavailability and wheat and gluten and food group restrictions and…well let’s just say my head is filled with info! But rather than hit you with studies, facts and figures at a time of year when our brains are starting to wind down, I thought I would share with you the tips and tricks I picked up from Amanda Menegazzo, who is the Food Communications Manager at Dairy Australia, on how to create a beautiful cheese platter.
How to create a beautiful cheese platter
- Allow for 20-30g of cheese per person, per cheese (e.g. if you were serving 6 guests a cheese platter of 3 different cheeses, you would need a 180g piece of each of the 3 cheeses)
- Choose cheeses that offer a range of textures and flavours
- Remove the cheese from the fridge one hour before you are going to serve it – the flavour of the cheese is at its best when it is at room temperature
- Only serve up the portion of cheese that you need for your platter rather than a whole piece or wheel which may go to waste (who am I kidding – its cheese!)
- To prevent the cheese from drying out while it is coming to room temperature, cover with a clean, damp cloth
- If a cheese has an inedible rind, cut the rind off one side of the cheese to indicate to guests that they should not eat it
- If serving more than one cheese, provide a different knife for each one to prevent the flavours from cross-contaminating (if you don’t have fancy cheese knives, butter knives work fine for soft cheese while sharp knives are better for hard cheese)
- Choose neutral flavoured crackers (like water crackers) that won’t compete with the flavour of the cheese and only place a few on the actual platter for decoration. The rest can sit in a bowl to the side of the platter
- For a gluten free ‘cracker’ that pairs perfectly with cheese, thinly slice apples horizontally and then stack the slices back up in the shape of the apple (there is a picture of one we ‘prepared earlier’ below)
- Serve your cheese with accompaniments that complement the cheese, not ones that overpower. In the platter Amanda styled, she paired the blue cheese with honey and figs, the brie with fresh strawberries (she said grilled stone fruit would also work really well), the raclette with muscatels and the cheddars with walnuts, quince paste and the apple
- Allow space around each cheese and its accompaniment so that your guests can get their knife in and cut a piece of cheese without squashing the others (or ending up with cheese all over their hands!)
- Finally, get to know your cheese monger and they will guide you on the best cheeses for your occasion, what to serve them with and most importantly; how to pronounce their names so you can sound like a fancy pants when talking to your guests!