FOOD & DRINK

How to take your Christmas cheese platter to the next level

Colourful display should ensure that family and guests are well catered for

Grazing tables are the latest musts for dinner parties and when better to create one of your own to share with friends and family than at Christmas?

The classic cheeseboard is synonymous with the festive period, and with a few top secrets and simple, yet effective, tips from fine grazing caterers GRAPE & Fig, who have collaborated with Port Salut this Christmas, you can reinvent the conventional cheeseboard, creating something extra special to start conversations and make merry memories!

So, here are eight things to consider for a tasty and visually satisfying display:

  1. You need to start with the placement of the cheese; distribute evenly around the platter, not clumped together in one area. Port Salut is a perfect cheeseboard staple due to its crowd-pleasing mild taste and creamy texture. It looks distinctive on a platter due to its vibrant orange rind. If using more than one portion of the cheese, place some on its side and some upright.
  2. Then add in some ramekins; once again distribute around the platter, then fill with dips. Hummus is a must, and you should also add an antipasti; this can be a little oily, hence the ramekin dish. The ingredients you use will both complement and contrast with colourful elements in your display, bringing the board to life!
  3. Next move onto placing your crackers. Selecting a cheese with mild taste and a creamy texture means it will be easy to eat and suit almost all cracker varieties. The contrast of soft cheese and crispy crackers is just so moreish! Remember, crackers have a tendency to fall and collapse, so try and keep a stack of crackers together by wedging them in-between the solid aspects of your platter – namely the cheese blocks and the ramekins. Try to keep your cracker placement as neat as possible – this will give a great finish to the overall look.
  4. If crackers aren’t for you, why not add more festive flavour to your cheeseboard with a delicious speciality bread such as a walnut and fig loaf? Not only will this look beautiful, one of the best ways to enjoy your favourite cheese is on bread, especially one with sweet dried fruit that perfectly complements the creaminess of cheese.
  5. After following the above steps, there should be space dotted around the board ready to be filled with the rest of your ingredients such as cured meats, pretzels, dried and fresh fruits. For Christmas, consider including gorgeous seasonal additions such as nuts and winter berries which will really elevate the festive feel of your display.
  6. Keep your ingredients together. Sprinkling ingredients all over the platter can make for a messy looking and unappetising visual. Ensure you leave the cured meats right until the end and get them straight out of the fridge. For an additional burst of Christmassy colour, why not try adding some dried orange blooms around the edges?
  7. If you want to take your platter to the next level, treat yourself to some fresh and indulgent honeycomb to place on your board. This is a total gamechanger. The sweet and sticky taste of the honey combined with the other flavours and textures on your platter is a combination you and your guests won’t forget any time soon!
  8. Don’t worry about people getting stuck in straight away and ‘spoiling’ the look of the platter – keeping your ingredients in distinct sections will help the board stay ‘neat’ and a grazing board actually looks more beautiful, the more it is enjoyed!
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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past publications worked for include the South-East London Mercury*, Kent Messenger, Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor for an East Midlands-based publishing group.

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