Curtis Stone shows you how to choose cheeses for a cheese plate.
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How to Make a Cheese Plate
Featured Pro: Curtis Stone Category: Cooking Time: 5:28
CURTIS STONE: Pros know that attention to detail can really set you apart. That’s true for this Terrain, and it’s certainly true for my next GMC Trade Secret. I’m Curtis Stone. Check this out.
Now, I’m so excited, because I’m in one of my favorite places in the world. I’m at the Cheese Store in Beverly Hills.
NORBERT: Welcome. Welcome.
CURTIS: This is seriously one of the best places in the country to buy beautiful cheese.
NORBERT: Thank you. Thank you.
CURTIS: Now, what a lot of people say to me is how do I put together the perfect cheese platter? So I thought I’d come and get the advice from the expert.
NORBERT: I’ll go get him.
NORBERT: There is no major, you know, definitive rule for putting together a cheese platter. But there are some guidelines and there is some tradition that we usually adhere to.
NORBERT: And that is odd numbers.
NORBERT: And what I like to do is go from soft to firm, try to hit goat, cow, sheep and bleu -
NORBERT: - and then, like a personal favorite, because we’re doing odd numbers. And I like to vary the countries as much as possible.
NORBERT: So what we’ve done here, for example, is we’ve taken a camembert for our soft cheese.
CURTIS: Ooh, nice and ripe. Delicious.
NORBERT: We’ve taken a goat cheese. We’ve hit France twice here, but that’s okay.
CURTIS: That’s okay.
NORBERT: They make a lot of cheese. This is a wonderful cheese called a clochette.
CURTIS: Now, there’s a little bit of mold still there.
NORBERT: Right. This is the way I like it – ripened to the point where there is a little bit of mold growing on it. It’s a bit crusty on the outside, but nice and smooth on the inside.
CURTIS: And that’s absolutely fine for people to eat; no need to worry.
NORBERT: Absolutely. Absolutely.
NORBERT: Sheep’s milk from the Basque region, called Etorki. Then, from the United States, we took a bleu cheese called Shaft, which is actually aged in a mining shaft, an old mining shaft up in northern California.
CURTIS: So how do you find that with the American cheese producers now starting to make some different styles of cheeses? Are they doing just as good a job?
NORBERT: They’re getting there. Just as we’ve kind of come up with wines, you know, that are as good as some of the European wines, we’re coming up with cheeses that are also, you know –
NORBERT: - becoming very, very good, yeah.
CURTIS: Good to know. Good to know.
NORBERT: Yeah. Keep in mind, you know, our tradition of making cheese here comes from the Europeans.
NORBERT: And this is a four-year-old farmhouse Gouda, which is dark in color and crusty and grainy. You know, the moisture is leaving. Salt stays. So we’re getting some of that crystallization. And you can actually serve that just broken up in nuggets.
CURTIS: In nuggets. Now, what sort of accompaniments do we need to serve with the cheese platter?
NORBERT: Well we don’t need to serve any accompaniments. But there are some that actually help the cheese. You know, cheese tends to be a little bit on the salty side, so we go sometimes toward something sweet; for example, from Australia.
CURTIS: From down under.
NORBERT: The prune and walnut, which is very, very good. queen’s paste from Spain –
CURTIS: Oh, you’ve got some truffle honey.
NORBERT: - or even truffle honey from Italy.
CURTIS: And what’s that there?
NORBERT: Those are sun-dried tomatoes that we sometimes use with the goat cheeses.
CURTIS: Okay. So it can be salty or it can be sweet.
CURTIS: Okay, great. So what I’m getting from you is the rules are there ain’t no rules -
CURTIS: - because if you wanted to do all Spanish cheeses, could you do that?
NORBERT: You could do all Spanish cheeses.
CURTIS: You could do all French.
NORBERT: You can do themes. You can do all soft cheeses. You can do whatever you like.
CURTIS: And what sort of accompaniment in terms of a drink? You should be serving a port? A muscat? A glass of champagne? How does that work?
NORBERT: Same as the other rule. There’s no rule. But keep in mind, you don’t want to serve something that’s going to overpower the cheese, and you don’t want to have a cheese that’s going to overpower the wine. So that’s sort of a guideline.
CURTIS: Okay, good. Now, the other thing that I get asked all the time – and I grew up in French restaurants, so to me the European style of serving a cheese platter comes after the main course and before dessert. Is that what you prescribe too, or do you – because I know some people serve it as appetizers. What’s the deal?
NORBERT: You know, you can serve it whenever you’d like. However, for example, a tray like this, let’s say that we serve this before the meal. That’s going to serve a lot of people. If we serve it during the meal, that’s going to serve a lot of people. And at the end of the meal, you’re going to have a lot left over.
NORBERT: So kind of regulate the amount of cheese that you put on the platter in accordance with the time that you serve the cheese.
CURTIS: And what do you do with the leftovers? If there is half – if you only eat half the cheese, what do you do with it all when you’re done?
NORBERT: Well, again, you can just rewrap it and keep it for a time. Or, as you were suggesting earlier, you could maybe make a sauce out of it, you know.
CURTIS: Yeah, just – I throw in the four or five cheeses that are left over into a little bit of cream and just bring it up to a simmer for five minutes, and you’ve got a beautiful sauce to toss through some pasta.
NORBERT: Right. Or if it dries out completely, grate it.
CURTIS: Now, the thing that I think people make the biggest mistake when they’re serving their cheese platter is they serve it straight from the fridge.
NORBERT: Right. Wrong.
CURTIS: How long should it be out of the fridge before you serve it?
NORBERT: At least an hour.
CURTIS: So that’s just to bring it up to temperature.
NORBERT: Exactly. Room temperature is the best – is the best rule for that.
CURTIS: Okay. So that’s when all the flavors come to life and the cheese really speaks for itself.
NORBERT: Right. Right.
CURTIS: Bread or crackers?
CURTIS: Bread. Okay.
Well, there you go. You heard it from the expert. We’ve got it all for you on a platter.
I’m Curtis Stone, and that’s your GMC Trade Secret.