Cheese lovers, mark your calendars. June 4 is National Cheese Day in the United States, so it’s the ideal excuse for you to indulge in your obsession with feta, cheddar or mozzarella. Pay tribute by ordering a cheese foam bubble tea, or show your commitment by standing in a three hour queue for a Shake Shack cheeseburger.
We believe in going back to basics, and appreciating cheese in its raw form — that is, on a platter. A cheese platter, or charcuterie board, is the perfect dish to serve at any dinner party — it’s a visual spectacle and helps fill the tummies of the peckish, while they await the main course.
Here, Singapore’s top cheese and wine connoisseurs answer 10 most commonly asked questions on how to create the perfect cheese plate:
1. How many types of cheese should be on the platter?
The answer is simple: It’s really up to you. But if you need to put a number on it, the magic number is six, according to Regent Singapore’s Chef Luca Beccalli.
Be it a party of two, ten or twenty, at least six cheeses is just about right to offer a good variety. For more than 10 guests, you could go up to nine types of cheeses.
A well-balanced platter should have a mix of cheeses — hard/soft, strong/mild and varied in the constituent milks, such as cow, sheep, goat.
“The key is not to have an overwhelming selection, but to have a fair selection of each cheese type,” says Chef Luca, a senior sous chef at Basilico, which boosts a dedicated cheese room. “One thing to note is that the more cheese you serve on the platter, the more accompaniments, condiments and sides you have to prepare to cleanse your palate throughout the tasting.”
2. What accompaniments go well with cheese?
Cheese and crackers are a classic combo, but what other accompaniments go well with cheese? Take your pick from the sweet or savoury.
The Sweet: Fruits go beautifully with cheeses. An apple or apricot’s natural sweetness complements the creaminess of cheese.
You can choose fruits in any form — fresh, dried or mashed up as a jam. Try pairing green grapes with Taleggio, which is a mild flavoured cheese made from cow’s milk. The crunchy grapes complements Taleggio’s soft texture.
The Savoury: Just like how we love our ham and cheese in a sandwich, the same combo goes well on a platter. A popular pairing is prosciutto di Parma and parmigiano-reggiano, an Italian cheese hailed as the King of Parmesans. The saltiness of the cheese complements the soft, buttery ham slices.
If you’re craving for a stronger taste, go for aged Gouda and a chorizo. Prepare for an explosion of bold flavours in your mouth — Gouda’s smoky flavour plus the spiciness of the Spanish sausage will be heavenly.