Hello friends. I hope that you are all enjoying the growing light of the season. I am personally having the worst bout of seasonal affective disorder that I’ve had in 15 years. I am combatting it with floral arrangements and cheese platters.
I made the cheese platter pictured here for my husband’s 50th birthday earlier this month, with the help of a 5 year old friend who came for tea with her Mama. My helper also made her own cheese platter in the shape of a face and then used it as a still life reference to make a drawing. It is so nice to have friends who share your interests and idea of a good time.
Then we DEVOURED my cheese platter along with a lot of green tomato jam. Our young friend went home positiveley coated in jam, blood orange and pomegranate juice. Then I called another dear friend, who was coming over for the tiny grown up dinner party later that night, to ask her to bring cheese re-enforcements. I made replacement crackers (gluten free sourdough with black sesame seeds) and made a whole new cheese platter for the grown ups. It was the first dinner party I’ve thrown at home in nearly two years and it was glorious. Since then, every social plan we have tried to make for the holidays has been cancelled because everyone we know is testing positive for covid (despite being thrice vaccinated in most cases). Lets take a break after that depressing statement to look at some floral arrangements shall we?
Ok I feel better. Since my husband’s birthday I did have one nice, one on one visit with a friend from Sweden who had prepared spiced wine, rice porridge, blue cheese on gingerbread cookies and open face sandwiches. YUM! We also decorated oranges with cloves (see above photo). Also, the friend who came with birthday cheese re-enforcements did not play around. She brought about 5 pounds of gourmet cheese which has allowed my husband and I to continue to eat delicious and beautiful cheese platters for the rest of the month. Now THATS a good birthday gift!
If you need to combat the darkness with cheese here is some platter making advice…
- Use a mix of aged hard cheese and soft cheeses. Don’t forget the goat and/or sheep cheese!
- Offer a variety of crackers. It is fun to discover the cheese and cracker combinations that taste best through trial and error. The winner of this cheese platter was triple cream brie on a rosemary cracker with green tomato jam!
- Include fresh fruit. I used blood oranges and pomegranates for this one. Apples, Pears and fresh figs are some other favorites. Some sweet and tart to balance all that salty richness is crucial in my opinion.
- Nuts and dried fruit are nice as a palate cleanser and also for filing in the gaps in your platter so that it looks plentiful. Almonds and walnuts are good. I like dried apricots, figs and tomatoes.
- Use sturdy fresh herbs like rosemary for green accent, texture and the wonderful smell. I would have included more on this platter if I had it. In the summer basil would be nice.
- If you eat meat foldthe slices in half twice to make them more 3 dimensional and easy to pluck from the platter. I used Bresaola (Italian air and salt cured beef) for this platter and I like it a lot. I also like pate, smoked oysters and smoked fish.
- Offer condiments on the side. Options include olives (I like castlevetrano or cerignola), gherkin pickles, pickled cocktail onions, grainy mustard, chutney, jam or membrillo.