You’ve had a good meal in good company. Out comes the cheeseboard, and time stands still. Dinner is far from over. The cheeses circulate. The comments start to fly. Lisa is hesitating between Boursin Cranberry & Pepper and Goat Cheese & Rosemary. Tony mentions that he’s never tasted fresh figs before. Sometimes, a few uncommon ingredients can lead to the tastiest revelations.
At the end of a meal, or to follow up dessert, favour milder cheeses paired with naturally sweet ingredients, such as fruit. The delicate flavour of fresh figs naturally complements creamy cheeses. Exotic fruits, such as mango, kiwi, pineapple and lychee, will brighten any platter and lend themselves well to sweet and salty pairings. To make serving easier, assemble small skewers with alternating pieces of fruit.
Honey, a delicious sidekick to cheese, is often overlooked for a platter. If the taste of honey purchased at your local supermarket leaves you somewhat underwhelmed, visit a farmer’s market or delicatessen to uncover your own little jar of liquid gold: wildflower, alfalfa, raspberry and linden honey are but a few examples. You can even get some honeycomb to add an original touch to your cheeseboard.
With the proliferation of artisan bakeries, there are now a wide range of nut, date and raisin breads from which to choose. These gourmet delights can serve as a subtle introduction to dessert or can replace it altogether without anyone missing the cake or other pastries.
The secret of a gourmet platter lies in the selection of quality foods and the simple celebration of flavours. After all, life’s pleasures often begin by satisfying the taste buds.
To keep the mood cheerful, make sure your guests can serve themselves easily. Clear the table before serving the cheese so that everyone can reach the platter (especially the Boursin!). A revolving serving platter, placed in the middle of the table, is also a very practical solution. If space is tight, consider using a tiered platter.