Since we love to eat, and love cheese, we’re delighted to feature the following story from the blog, Fromage-du-Mois, on serving cheese at a party. While we favor big dramatic blocks and wheels of cheeses at parties, the folks at Fromage-du-Mois make good points about the benefits of cutting up and serving cheeses on a plate. And, in full disclosure, to save dough and make it appear like we’re not serving last night’s leftovers, we slice and cube pieces from cheese wheels and blocks that have already been cut into to make composed cheese plates.

Our thanks to Ricky Ricotta, Chedda Gabler, Fontina Turner and Goudacris for posing the burning question:

Serving Cheese: To Board or to Plate….

When it comes to serving cheese to guests at a small dinner party, say, there are at least two main options people turn to. Let’s discuss those here: the cheese board or a cheese plate. I think it will become clear which one we favor at Fromage-du-Mois.

So, a cheese board is that slate or wooden board, perhaps a bit unwieldy, that is often put out on the coffee table or end-table for guests. There are usually 1-3 wedges of different cheeses on the board, each with its own knife, and a stack of small napkins nearby. Some people will add a couple of crackers to this mix. After your guests do some mingling and hovering around this board, you inevitably see small crumbles of cheese on the floor below. There sometimes feels like there is “no beginning and no end” to this method, until all you have left is 3 rinds and guests that may be too full for the rest of your courses.

The cheese board is a well-intended endeavor. As we’ve experienced, however,  it seems to fall short and can become a true tragedy of the commons. It can promote endless standing around and nibbling, it lacks a personal touch, and it often doesn’t include the savory accompaniments which enhance cheese flavors (things like: thick crusty bread, toasted black walnuts, a fig or date jam, and macoun apples, among others).

A cheese plate, on the other hand, may fill these voids well and help serve as desired. In a small or even medium-sized dinner party setting, it is only a little more trouble to prepare individual plates.

A cheese plate can be a regular dinner plate in size or smaller one, if fitting.  You can prepare the plate with, say, 2-4 cheeses, using smaller wedges or pieces than on a board.  This seems to really cut down on the hovering, mingling, careless cutting, and piece-dropping on the floor. And importantly, the experience is more personal; it seems to emphasize quality rather than quantity in presentation. It is also a more fit method to include a smattering of appropriate accompaniments, things like wedges of French bread, roasted nuts, slices of fruit,  or (if the cheese is right), thin slices of prosciutto or sopresata.  More on specific cheese accompaniments later….

Let us know what your experience has been…