I’m a huge fan of cheese plates – in fact, a cheese plate with multigrain bread, nuts and wine is filling and so yummy and not all that bad for you once in a while. Actually, it’s good for you! (according to this article by TIME). But seriously, if done right, a cheese plate is guaranteed to be a crowd-pleaser. Here’s what I’ve learned:
Variety is absolutely necessary, but you don’t need too much. Strike a balance between soft and hard cheeses, aged and not-so-mature cheeses and of course, flavors. Know your audience: many people don’t like overly mature cheeses while others love them. If you do choose to have one or two aged/smelly cheeses, be sure to have some that are more muted in flavor so that your guests have a choice. Pairings are key; spicy almonds, fruit such as grapes, jams, bread, crackers are all good options. And of course wine! You can never go wrong with a good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar to go with bread as a side. A little presentation goes a long way – place the cheeses away from each other, with the accompaniments in between. Slice a few bites of each cheese to start with so that people are not intimidated and feel welcome to eat.
My go-to’s are: mozzarella topped with olive oil, salt and black pepper; a less mature pepper gouda; manchego with fig jam (one of my favorites). But I’ll offer fair warning – you have to be picky with the mozzarella because if it is not fresh, it is no good.
Where to buy cheese in Bombay: Nature’s Basket has a great selection (I visit the one near Breach Candy). My favorites are the manchego and pepper gouda. Westside at Kala Ghoda also has a nice variety; the pesto gouda there is great. I’ve been wanting to try the Spotted Cow Fromagerie’s Brie and Camembert (available on foodesto.com) but haven’t yet.