There's no denying outdoor picnics and intimate dinner parties are on the rise this spring, and to top these off, you’ll want to jump on board the latest grazing trend – cheese platters.
With minimal prep time, they’re a simple and effective way to add a little extra wow factor to your next gathering.
What takes a cheese platter from good to great, however, is the flavour profile of every ingredient included.
To help you, we’ve pulled together five top tips from Stella’s Kitchen Head Chef, Josh Repcen, that’ll have everyone talking (in between mouthfuls) for all the right reasons.
1. Select quality cheese – at least three different varieties
When it comes to creating a tasty platter, you’ll need to make sure you nail your selection for the star of the show – the cheese.
Stella’s Kitchen Head Chef Josh Repcen encourages you to invest in the best cheese you can find.
First up, you’ll want to source a soft cheese – brie is always a crowd-pleaser. If your soft cheese of choice is a Donje Brie, Josh suggests checking the rind first to ensure reddish-brown streaks have developed before slicing into it, which means it’s completely ripened and you’ll get the most flavour out of it.
Now you’ve got your soft cheese sorted, it’s time to source a semi-hard cheese. Josh recommends a comté or a gruyère cheese as they’re both dense and produce a rich flavour that will linger in your mouth.
For the final cheese, select a blue cheese. This one will set the bar for the kind of wine you’ll be pairing with later. If you’re a blue cheese lover, you’ll want to source something with a strong, sharp flavour. However, if you’re after something a little milder, Josh suggests a Cropwell Bishop Stilton and pairing it with a crisp, freshly sliced apple.
2. Secure your crackers or bread of choice
When it comes to selecting biscuits, crackers, or lavosh for your cheeseboard, the main thing to remember is not to overpower the cheese.
Think, of the cheese as your primary flavour and crackers as adding crunch and enhancing the flavour.
Josh’s go-to is a plain, crisp lavosh or neutral charcoal lavosh with low salt content. Alternatively, thinly sliced oven-baked sourdough with a dash of good olive oil.
3. Slice up an apple
There’s nothing tastier than adding a touch of juicy freshness to your platter, and apple varieties like eve™ provide a balance of sweetness, tartness, and crispiness to marry with your cheese selection.
If you’re up for a good time and a long time, you’ll also want to keep in mind the longevity of your platter - luckily, envy™ apples have you covered in that department. Thanks to their naturally occurring high levels of vitamin C, envy™ apples maintain a bright, white ﬂesh, well after being sliced, making them the perfect accompaniment to any cheeseboard.
Keep in mind both apples are seasonal, so stop by Bill’s Orchard Gate and chat with our team to find out what else you can substitute these apples for.
4. Source a fresh paste, honey, or chutney
According to Josh, simple is always best when it comes to choosing the right chutney, fruit paste, or honey. If you’re looking to amplify the taste of your cheese, some Australian-made quince is always a safe bet. Otherwise, whip up a homemade apple chutney like this JAZZ™ Apple & Red Onion Chutney recipe.
If you’re entertaining during stone fruit season, swap an apple chutney for a plum chutney.
To up the aesthetic dial of your platter, Josh suggests adding some fresh honeycomb, complementing the flavour of your soft cheese selection.
5. Sprinkle on some dried fruit
Jazzing up the condiments on your platter with some dried fruit is always a good idea, and you can easily source anything from dried figs to cherries, dates, and apricots at your local supermarket, or drop by Bill’s Orchard Gate.
6. Splurge on a good bottle of wine
Now that you’ve got your cheeseboard down pat, it’s time to think about wine o’clock.
Much like the rest of the components on your platter, you’ll want to purchase something that enhances the flavour of the cheese.
For hard cheeses, think bold, full-bodied red wines like a cabernet sauvignon. For soft and creamy cheeses, sparkling wines like cuvée or a crisp white wine like a bottle of sauvignon blanc match nicely. For your more funky-flavoured blue cheeses, you’ll want to go with a sweeter wine, like port. Josh suggests pairing a nice tawny port with a mild blue, while a dry white wine is better suited to a stronger blue cheese.