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Cheese Platter suggestions

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I'm bringing a cheese platter to a spa gathering for about 10 women in a few weeks. I thought it might be fun to ask Chowhounds what cheeses you suggest. I'm thinking about 3-4 cheeses max since there are others bringing food. Since I am the one bringing the cheese, I will pull rank and decide not to include "stinky" cheeses like goat cheese (not goat's milk cheeses just "goat cheese" specifically) or bleu that I am not very fond of. I know there are 'hounds who will be disappointed in that...sorry! I will accompany it with some kind of cracker or bread product (suggestions welcome) and would like one cheese that goes well with fig preserves.

Open to all suggestions of cheeses, toppings, and crackers/breads/etc except for the stinky cheeses noted above. Thanks...

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  1. "and would like one cheese that goes well with fig preserves."
    unfortunately i love to pair figs with either goat or bleu :) however, manchego can be a nice alternative.

    question - are you specifically set on using preserves? it's fig season, so it's the perfect time to use fresh ones instead...

    1 Reply
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      Oooh, definitely some Manchego. Also, mimolette is quite popular. It has an interesting story too, although some might dispute it. Purportedly, it was Napoleon's favorite cheese. Or atleast the one that he fed to his troops. It resembles a cantaloupe and the bumpy exterior is devloped by foraging cheese mites. It's a hard cheese, nutty and fairly mild.

    2. I think a triple creme would do nicely: Pierre Robert or Brillat Savarin. If you can find it, Brin d'Amour, aka Fleur de Macquis, is always a hit. It's a sheeps milk Corsican cheese coated in wild herbs. I would also recommend Piave, a semi hard Italian cheese that I think makes a better cheese platter choice that reggiano. And rounding off, Manchego and Mimolette are both great suggestions. Or you could try a farmhouse cheddar or aged gouda.

      1 Reply
      1. re: almansa

        I agree with almansa's recommendation of Piave. I usually get the Piave Vecchio - the aged Piave. It's a beautiful, nutty and rich cheese with a great tooth and a bit of crystalization. Nice complement to creamy cheeses. Less salty than reggiano.

      2. I'm a stinky cheese lover, but I do know that everyone loves Parrano (there's even an Extra-aged Parrano that's extra strong, but I digress). Your friends might like rose jam with their soft cheeses (just gently simmer some organic rose petals in simple syrup until thickened; fragrant roses like Mr. Lincoln, Chrysler Imperial, etc., are better than non-fragrant ones).

        2 Replies
        1. re: Claudette

          Ooooh, that rose jam sounds lovely. I've never had that before but would really like to try it.

          1. re: lynnlato

            It is lovely, but cut the petals with kitchen scissors into little pieces first.

        2. Spread fig jam on brie and top w/sliced almonds. Bake 15 min

          Remove pits from medjool dates and insert shard of best parmesan

          1. anything with a vein of truffle in it. i think i had a moliterno with something like that.

            1. I second someone's suggestion of aged gouda. That is my all-time favorite cheese. Btw, I'm not very fond of bleu cheeses either, but I had one this weekend at this restaurant that was to die for, and went well with fig preserves to boot. :)

              Havarti (esp. w/ dill) is a nice creamy cheese. Cotswald is also nice if you like chives.

              1. There is an aged Gouda product called Robusto that's fantastic. Since you don't seem to be against non-stinky goat milk cheeses, Goat Gouda is also great.

                1 Reply
                1. re: HSBSteveM

                  Ooh. I'm a huge fan of Robusto, too. :) Yum!

                2. I use fig spread with a French sheep's milk cheese named Tomme du Levezou. I get it at Whole Foods. Delicious on Nut Thins, which happen to be gluten-free, if that's an issue for your group.

                  Now I'm drooling.

                  1. I'd suggest Manouri. Good by itself, also good with honey, might be great with fig preserves. Alternatively, Saint Andre. I second goat gouda, which isn't at all stinky, very smooth and I second manchego because I love it.

                    1. Fig Preserves is absolutely, positively the perfect partner for the Fleur de Teche cheese from Bittersweet Plantation in Louisiana. It's a triple cream cow's milk cheese (from chef John Folse), made from Holstein cow milk. Fleur de Teche was declared the Best Cheese in the South in 2005 by a panel of judges from the Southern Foodways Alliance.
                      (225) 644-6000 or (800) 256-2433

                      1. Top a Brie with apricot jam, pecans, and a little chopped jalapeno, and warm in the oven... serve with crostini... TO DIE FOR!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Finsmom

                          Etorki is great with any sweet spread including figs.

                          If you're feeling adventurous (but not too) try to locate a raw milk Stilton -- completely different beastie than your usual Stilton, insanely good with fig anything (especially on a fresh walnut bread) and if you happen to have a drop of tawny port handy... :-)

                          Another nice triple creme is Delices de Bourgogne -- I prefer it to Saint Andre as it seems to get more consistently creamy in the centre and has a light buttery flavour.

                          If you go for a brie and have access to it, Brie de Meaux is a regal choice. Just a soupcon of mushroomy flavour.

                          My favourite accompaniments are breads, the plainer the better (with the exception of the walnut bread) -- a good crusty French baguette works well. If you're going with crackers, try to find ones that don't have salt on top, or sesame/poppy seeds, or any other ingredients that interfere with the taste of the cheese. I'm a big fan of Carr's water biscuits because they are unadorned and also just the right size (I try to avoid large crackers/bread rounds as unwieldy).

                          Have fun and let us know what you choose!

                        2. Another idea is to go to igourmet. Just pick some you've never tried before. They have a rather lengthy description of each, so you can avoid any stinky ones. I've enjoyed everything I've gotten there.

                          1. Thanks for the suggestions so far. I will be doing my scouting mission soon to suss out the very best prospects. Boy is this fun! I should volunteer to do the cheese plate more often. I neglected to mention that the guest of honor and about 2 other women are pregnant, so I will need to avoid the raw milk cheeses most likely. Think I will head to Whole Foods as ours has a lovely cheese counter with sampling available (and I have a baby and 2 year old so one-stop-shopping is important). Thanks again and I'll report back!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: amyvc

                              i recently sampled a couple of great cheeses at Trader Joe's - don't know if they're right for what you want, but I'll share anyhoo... the Bavarian Beer Cheese was so interesting. It grew on me as I ate it. Also the English Cheddar with bits of caramelized onions rippled throughout... this was just so yummy... it needed no accompaniments other than some lactaid for later :)

                              I'm also one that loves a good cube or two or three of cave-aged gruyere.

                            2. garnish with grapes and baby carrots for color. and a dairy break.

                              there's some cheese whose name escapes me that blurs the line between Camembert and stinky but tastes great, I think it's Italian. (it was ok with the non-stinky crowd when new, but I thought it was perfect after I let it sit about a year) Taleggio?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: hill food

                                That sounds like taleggio.

                                BTW, grapes are not only a natural accompaniment to cheese but also make a great palate cleanser between types, as do plain unsalted almonds, pecans or other mild nuts.

                                1. Hey all, thanks for all the suggestions. My friends were very happy with my cheese choices, although I think I went for one too many strong cheeses...anyway, I ended up with a parrano, an etorki, a manchego and a white cheddar. Ended up doing the white cheddar for the unadventurous folks. I got some great crackers and grapes and did a damson plum jam to top. The plum jam was great for all of the cheeses. Like I said, should have gone a bit creamier on one, but live and learn. Thanks again for the suggestions. It was fun shopping!