Gourmet cheese is fast becoming one of Australia's most popular indulgences. Different varieties of cheese with their distinct flavours and luxurious textures make a fantastic way to impress when entertaining family and friends.
A cheese platter can be as simple or as extravagant as you like depending on the occasion. Spend a quiet night in with a bottle of wine, a creamy Camembert and some water crackers in front of the television, or prepare a platter for a dinner party with five specialty cheeses, a different wine for each cheese and some well-rehearsed cheese facts to impress your friends with.
Below are some hints and tips to help you create the perfect cheese board.Remove the cheese from the fridge an hour before serving so that the flavours and aromas are allowed to fully develop.
Choose a variety of cheeses so that there is a range of different flavours and textures. To start, choose a soft cheese such as Tasmanian Heritage Brie or Camembert, a hard cheese such as Tasmanian Heritage St.Claire and a blue vein cheese. Choose a blue vein cheese according to your taste - for a milder flavour, try Tasmanian Heritage True Blue or Tasmanian Heritage Signature Blue Brie. For the blue lovers or the more adventurous, try the Tasmanian Heritage Signature Deep Blue.
Arrange smaller cheeses in the middle of the cheeseboard and arrange the hard cheeses around the outside so that they are easier to cut.
A limited selection of good quality cheese is better than an array of poor quality cheese.
As a guide, allow for 60-90g of cheese per guest.
Put two or three cheese knives on the cheeseboard so that the different flavours do not mix.
Add some nuts and dried or fresh fruit to complement the flavours and textures of the cheeses. Try serving some special varieties to add interest such as persimmons or nashi pears in winter or nectarines, figs and apricots in summer.
Be adventurous with the bread and biscuits you serve with a cheese platter. Try walnut, olive or sourdough bread. For crackers with a difference, try fallwasser or cracked pepper.
As a rule, soft, fruity wines will highlight the subtle taste of camembert perfectly, sparkling, aged white wine or chardonnay will help bring out the best in Double Brie and sweeter wines such as port, Muscat or Tokay will complement the salty finish of most blue cheeses.
The French serve cheese before dessert while the English tend to finish their meal with cheese - there is no hard and fast rule so serve it wherever you feel comfortable.