Platter of Taste

Curate a festive finger-food feast

By Mélodie Picard, owner The Oregon Cheese Cave

Know Your Crowd

There are two types of fromage friends: easy, simple cheese people and super-fancy, funky folk. Shop accordingly. Also identify how many guests you’re expecting, the more you have the more diverse the platter should be.

Choose Cheese

Source a solid variety of different milks (cow, goat, sheep, mixed, vegan) and types (spreadable, bloomy rind, bleu, pressed, hard) for a memorable presentation. Of course, you can always choose according to the wine selection, too. Note, if you’re focusing on red wines, not all styles of cheese will work — I had an amazing Cabernet Sauvignon and a gorgeous Rogue blue clash once; it still haunts my palate to this day.

Complete with Meat

Cured meats and pâtés remain a fantastic side for a hearty appetizer. Staple accompaniments for charcuterie include pickled items and mustard, although they can clash with certain wines, so keep that in mind.

Add Accoutrements

Fresh and dried fruit, nuts, olives, crackers, and jams and honeys make my handy-dandy list. Select products according to season, keeping in mind any pairings — strawberries for Pinot Noir and Barbera, anyone? — and guests’ food allergies.

Home Plate

On your choice of platter, board or tray, arrange the cheese separate from each other, with the semi- and hard ones pre-cut. Place the charcuterie in between the cheese in piles or in the shape of rivers or flowers. Fill in the gaps with the accompaniments. Try one of three approaches: neat and evenly spaced; pretty and busy (as pictured); or a hot mess of generous piles. There is no wrong way. And don't forget the serving utensils.

Cheeses center to clockwise

Alta Langa La Tur / The triple-cream, triple-milk Italian cheese tastes buttery smooth with the right amount of funk. (topped with fresh figs)

Beecher’s Smoked Flagship Cheddar / Naturally smoked over a distinctive blend of apple and cherry wood, the cheese is aged 15 months. (cubed)

Cypress Grove Midnight Moon / Aged six months or more, the dense, smooth goat cheese offers a crunch from protein crystals — think Gouda. (spears).

Abondance / The French washed-rind cheese is crafted exclusively from milk produced by the Abondance, Montbéliarde and taurine breeds of cattle. (cubed)

Mitica Manchego / Made with raw Manchega sheep’s milk and aged six months, the Spanish semi-firm cheese is creamy with a just a bit of crumble. (SPEARS)

Meat and more

Bresaola / The lean beef prosciutto is intense yet tender and soft in texture. (rosettes)

Accompaniments / Dried strawberries, apricots and blueberries, Marcona almonds, Castelvetrano olives, two kinds of crackers, two mini jars of jam, one mini jar of Rose City Pepperheads hot jelly. (scattered)

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