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Dec 1, 2013 06:04 PM

December cheese of the month - holiday cheese plates

What is a good assortment for a holiday cheese plate? I have a vibrant orange hued Mimolette that is frightfully dense, and a Rogue
River Oregon blue only slightly less so. I have noshed my way through my washed rind soft cheeses. What would be a good mix of 4 or 5 cheeses for a holiday plate, with accoutrements?

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  1. Without realizing holiday cheese plates would be the December Cheese of the Month topic, I started this thread.

    I'm sure the topic will receive a great deal more traction now, thanks Veggo!

    1. What does Mimolette taste like?

      16 Replies
      1. re: HillJ

        I have never eaten Mimolette! My cheese monger said that soon it will no longer be exported to the US because of mites in the rind, which is affirmed in Google articles. My wedge is in my hands now, it has a pocked-marked rind, and is as dense as a hockey puck. It resembles the cheese equivalent of petrified wood. As is my custom, I want everything I can't have tomorrow!

        1. re: Veggo

          What's stopping you from cutting it open and tasting it? Inquiry minds. I've only seen photos of Mimolette. How does one approach a petrified wood-like cheese?

          1. re: HillJ

            I will soon, I have had a lot of cheeses lately with short shelf lives and the Mimolette looks very stable.

            1. re: Veggo

              Delicious dilemma :)

              I'm conjuring up this visual that your holiday guests are going to be wowed by this particular cheese and its back story.

              1. re: HillJ

                I really don't know how to attack it yet, other than removing the entire rind. It has similar characteristics to a 5 year gouda.
                On the flip side of rock-hard cheeses, I think some runny cheeses and goat cheese should be served on their own plate with their own knife so things don't get too messy with a cheese assortment. Also, accoutrements such as the orange-fig jelly I like with St. Andre and some other soft mild cheeses. Cracker & bread choices and recommendations will be helpful, also, so please chime in.

                1. re: Veggo

                  At Thanksgiving we had three different cheese plates set out. One for hard cheese, one for soft and one of the homemade mozz rolls I had made last month. I found keeping them separate allowed me to create more appropriate pairings and some people just don't care for runny cheese and I didn't want one cheese to 'suffer' over another...if that makes sense.

                  With the homemade mozz I offered roasted red peppers, green pitted olives, cured cauliflower and two kinds of salami (a red wine and a hot) along with a large loaf of Italian bread slice as you go.

                  For the soft cheeses I arranged cubes of honeycomb (a few I hand dipped in dark chocolate), fig salami, dried apricots, these super thin rye crackers and a cracker that had bits of pumpkin seeds, a pumpkin butter and a black raspberry jam.

                  With the hard cheeses, which I arranged on our home bar counter, I had two wines and grapes. A few slicers, small forks.

                  Not a big display of accouterments but with all the rest of the holiday fare, it was more than enough for our guests to sample.

                  What I need to do is look over my notes for which specific cheeses we put out that day.

                  1. re: HillJ

                    Nice! I never would have made it to the dinner table!

                    1. re: Veggo

                      I'm with you! The nibbles usually get my attention over the larger meal.

                      1. re: HillJ

                        I learned from hotoynoodle that putting out heavy things like cheese prior to a meal can be a big mistake. People fill up on that. I continue to remind myself that appetizers are intended to whet not kill the appetite. I feel it's a good way to go.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          I recall you stating that (as well as hotoy) before. I don't serve the same menu to the same guests in the case of large feasts like Thanksgiving or Christmas. As I said below, the early risers came for the nibbles (including cheese) and the dinner guests came much later for an entirely diff menu.

                          The only mistake I made this year was enough chairs at one point.

                          1. re: HillJ

                            I saw that after I posted. Smart.

          2. re: Veggo

            Here's the thread on the US lockdown on Mimolette for more info,

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              How would you describe the actual taste of Mimolette? On that thread, I see a comparison to a hard cheese and another to being used for a grilled cheese sandwich.

              1. re: HillJ

                The character depends on the age of the Mimolette. Here's my previous tasting note on approximately one-year old and 3+ year-old,

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Thanks for the preview. Mine is one-year old, and I plan to nibble away gradually with no bread or crackers, just wine.

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    Your description is helpful and wasn't what I expected entirely.

          3. Are you asking us to assemble a cheese plate then report on how it tasted/worked? Or is this a thought exercise only?

            1 Reply
            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Either, or feedback on hits and misses from previous experiences.

            2. Here is a helpful link about quantity of cheese to purchase for holiday gatherings....


              10 Replies
              1. re: EmBrooks

                The funny thing about how much cheese to buy as well as figuring out the amount of cheese to expect per guest is that the only time this formula or recommendation works for me is when I offer ONE cheese. Then, guests either go for it or pass. The minute I offer more than one cheese the equation flies out the window. Folks pick hard at one and ignore the others or pick away in differing degrees at each cheese.

                So I over buy cuts, let the cheese munching fall naturally and use up whatever is usable from the remainder in some recipe later in the week.

                EmB, do you find the equation works for you?

                1. re: HillJ

                  I am literally the worst person to answer this question. I inherited from my mother a fear of running out of food at a dinner party so I always WAY overbuy. I can't help it, even when I try to cut back I just can't do it. Like the article says, leftover cheese is never a bad thing!

                  1. re: EmBrooks

                    That's what I'm saying. Especially if you're a cheese lover buying for a party..I figure someone is going to eat it..even if it winds up being ME!

                    1. re: EmBrooks


                      I am the same way and also inherited this from my mom. Always way too much food at my dinner parties.

                      1. re: Ridge

                        It helps that we always look forward to party leftovers!

                      2. re: EmBrooks

                        I just read an article on Tasting Table talking about using all manner of leftover cheeses in mac n cheese.

                      3. re: HillJ

                        I don't care for the crusty dryness that sets in on uneaten cheese pieces after a few hours. In fly fishing parlance, I try to "match the hatch with the catch" , and learn my guests' preferences beforehand.
                        To borrow from Dan Quayle, a cheese is a terrible thing to waste.

                        1. re: Veggo

                          Good point! I do put out smaller pieces at a time and replenish as needed otherwise it is very wasteful and the plate is a complete mess and not very appealing by the end of the evening.

                          I usually provide some go to crowd pleasers - a goat cheese and/or a triple creme and/or something hard and mild, then get something for the more adventurous. I put anything that has any stink to it on its own plate so as not to scare off the less adventurous from the tried and trues.

                          Lately I am more drawn to the idea of serving just one really great cheese, but you definitely need to know your audience for this...

                          1. re: EmBrooks

                            That is a good point. Although I don't let cheese plates sit out during the course of an entire party. The cheese platters I put out for Thanksgiving were for the early risers. My formal dinner guests never saw the cheese plates. They were served an entirely different menu.

                            I like the idea of one great cheese for small groups.

                          2. re: Veggo

                            I'm careful not to waste cheese. I also don't find it difficult to keep the cheese platter from drying out. Glass dome covers.

                      4. We want more geometry and creativity for the once-a-year holiday cheese plates. Balls. Rolls. Tetrahedrons. Covered in nuts or things we don't usually think of. C'mon, cheese hounds! DIG DEEP. Share your creativity! Melty stuff and dips count, also. Don't be a Scrooge! Think Jimmy Stewart! It's a Wonderful Life!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Veggo

                          Funny V I was just looking at the Turducken of cheese balls (again) over on CHOW.


                          1. re: HillJ

                            Wow! That's a lot of cheese love!