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Say Cheese!

Friday, April 08, 2016

We bet you’ve come across a gorgeous cheese platter at a fancy restaurant or on Instagram and wanted to recreate it, Purva Indulkar tells you how to master this impressive party platter

Whether you’re throwing a dinner party or cooking up a storm for an intimate date, nothing can be as impressive as putting out a cheese platter. But, it looks so complicated, doesn’t it? With so many options to choose from, the process can confuse you. Adding to the confusion is the question of which one to eat first. And, which cheese goes with which snack? Is it inappropriate to put a whole cube of cheese in your mouth? We bet you have a bevy of questions. So, to solve the confusion, we asked Manav Koul, executive chef at Sofitel Mumbai BKC to start us off with a few simple tips. Read on to find out how you can put together your own cheese platter and take inspiration from his cheese platter.

Bread & lavash
An assortment of bread and lavash is a great addition to a cheese platter. Eat the cheese alongside or on top of these snacks.

Californian grapes
Grapes go very well with almost every type of cheese. You can also add other sweet treats to bring a little balance to the platter. Good options  include berries, apricots, jam and fresh figs.

Strawberry marmalade
This sweet treat is a great way to add a little fruity flavour to your cheese platter

Emmental
The hard, Swiss cheese smells like freshly-cut hay! When you’re shopping for it, make sure that it has walnut-sized holes — these are the best versions of the sharp cheese.

Gruyere
This hard, creamy cheese tastes fruity at first and then more earthy and nutty.

Roquefort
This blue cheese has a strong fragrance. When you’re shopping for it, look for a hard wedge, not a crumbled one.

Chevre
If you like your cheese sharp and flavourful, goat cheese is a great option — and this is one of our favourites. This unaged version has a mild flavour. When you’re buying this cheese, make sure that it’s bright white and soft to the touch.

Almonds
A classic combination, nothing beats pairing your cheese with a handful of nuts. You have to make sure that they’re good quality, and that you pick only those that accentuate and not overpower the flavour of cheeses on your platter. While plain almonds go best with cheese, you can also try raw or smoked nuts, prosciutto, salami and even marinated olives.

Brie
It is difficult to turn down a triangle of this delicious, melt-in-the-mouth cheese. Nicknamed ‘The Queen of Cheeses’, Brie is a soft cheese that’s easy on the palate because of its mild flavour. If the colour of its surface is pure white, wait till it turns slightly brown so that you can taste the cheese in its maturity — this brings out its flavour. Also, remember that the cheese should be soft, but never too gooey.

Edam
This semi-hard, pale-yellow Dutch cheese has a mildly tangy and salty taste. You can pick up a slab or slices from stores such as Nature’s Basket.

Add one item from each category

  • Aged cheeses Cheddar and Goat Gouda are good options.
  • Soft cheeses Pick cheese such as Constant Bliss, Camembert and Brillat-Savarin.
  • Firm cheeses Manchego, Mimolette and Parmigiano-Reggiano are great for a platter.
  • Blue cheeses Indulge in Gorgonzola Dolce, Valdeón and Stilton.
  • Breads Sliced baguette, breadsticks or crackers go well with cheese.
  • Condiments Have sweet preserves, honey, tart chutneys and spicy mustards.
  • Fruits Add any seasonal or dry fruits.
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