Purchasing cheese should be based on your plans to consume it. For instance, if no other food items are being served, I recommend four ounces per person. However, if a meal will follow, or be preceded by a cheese course (as the French enjoy cheese after dinner) then I recommend two ounces per person.
As far as selection, a cheese platter should have a “personality” to create a conversation and make it eye-appealing. To build the platters ‘personality’ select cheeses of different milk types, or from various countries of origin, or vary them by texture, some soft and some hard, or blend different colored rinds for the cheese board or platter. Every cheese we ship includes a Fromager Note to highlight the story of the cheese, how to pronounce it and the types of wines and beers we suggest for pairings. We also include Artisanal display tags to use in presenting a cheese platter to help your guests connect with the cheese by name, milk type and country of origin. This will start the conversation among your guests and allow you to be the most informed host from having read the Fromager Note and feeling confident in your cheese and pairing knowledge.
Here is a great four-cheese platter that features one cheese from each of the four quadrants of our CheeseClock® starting with a Mild cheese Brillat-Savarin. Brillat is a triple cream cheese meaning it has 75% butterfat content and qualifies as “ice cream for grown-ups”! Progressing ahead to a Medium-strength cheese I would suggest Jasper Hill Cheddar a clothbound cheddar aged in underground caves in Vermont for at least nine months making it less of a creamy cheddar, but one packed with cheddar flavor. Moving into “red wine territory” on the Artisanal CheeseClock® to a Bold cheese I like Ubriaco di Raboso. Ubriaco means “drunk” in Italian and because this cheese is aged with grapes that were crushed to make wine and packed around the outer ride of the wheel of cheese while it was aged in barrels it has a distinct aroma of wine and delicious. Plus a nice story to share to get the conversation going!
For a Strong cheese to finish off the collection I would do Dutch Gouda. It’s four years old and has a sweet aftertaste like butterscotch. How can sweetness be part of a cheese four years old? When the curds and whey are separated during the cheese making process most of the lactose (natural sugars from an animal’s milk) are washed away in the whey, but the amount that remains in the curds over time with aging crystalizes and gives that slight bit of a “crunch” that releases the milk sugars and leaves you with an amazing, sweet aftertaste.
As always, maximize the full flavors of cheese by serving them at room temperature.
I love Artisanal Cheese and enjoy sharing it even more – you can Taste the Difference!