The holidays are one of our favorite times of year–not because of sparkly lights or presents, but because we love the chance to gather around the table with friends & family.
However, all the cooking involved can definitely be stressful, or at least time-consuming; so we thought we’d give you some tips on crafting a crowd-pleasing cheese plate. Cheese plates are perfect for hectic holidays: quick and easy to create, yet still thoughtful & stylish on the table – not to mention delicious.
First, aim for balance. A selection of different cheeses ensures there’s something for everyone. Start with a harder cheese, move onto maybe something a little funkier or more intense, and don’t forget something gooey and creamy! And of course, great crackers, fresh fruit, and a little jelly are always good additions to a cheese plate, as well some nuts and olives.
There are too many amazing North Carolina cheeses to choose from. To narrow it down, we chose some favorites from our mentors, past and present, as well as a couple of our own cheeses. We added sea salt flatbread crackers from NC’s own The Accidental Baker, a pomegranate, and pepper jelly from Two Chicks Farm to round out our plate. Two Chicks is where our newest employee, Lily, first started honing her fermentation skills.
For our hard cheese, we looked to Chapel Hill Creamery, where Samantha and Alessandra both spent years refining the art of cheesemaking. They make a delicious Asiago-inspired cheese called Calvander. Robust and smooth, Calvander is a safe bet for family members who might be a little wary of overly pungent or funky cheeses. For something a little crazier, try the fig and honey chevre from Goat Lady Dairy, another creamery where Samantha learned a great deal. The sweetness of the fig and honey balances the savory, goat-y bite of this cheese.
We also couldn’t resist including a few of our own cheeses. Campo, a cold-smoked cheese, is smooth with a mild smoky flavor – another good bet for those picky eaters. Cottonbell is a Camembert-style cheese made with cow’s milk, perfect for those who like a softer cheese to spread on crackers. This is a great one to pair with that pepper jelly and a glass of wine! Or try the Winsome, a creamy and flavorful Italian-style cheese with a natural rind, also sure to please everyone’s palates.
Remember these are all just guidelines–the perfect cheese plate is one filled with your favorite cheeses, and other snacks you love and want to share. Don’t stress, just share what you love and encourage others to do the same!
Wishing everyone happy holidays filled with delicious food–especially cheese! Xoxo, the Boxcarr Team