How to create the perfect cheese platter

October is national cheese month and this year cheesemakers are encouraging people to try something new and what better way than on a platter?

The basics at a glance

Decide on the New Zealand cheeses you want to feature and gather interesting and delicious local ingredients to enhance the cheeses.

Use fresh, seasonal ingredients:

• they are full of flavour

• and seasonal also equals affordable.

Bunch individual ingredients together — they appear more luscious and tempting.

Put small dishes and bowls on the board or platter, then arrange the cheeses. Think about grouping flavours to match the cheeses, e.g place the piccalilli alongside the aged NZ gouda.

The board or platter

Choose a board or platter that will hold a good selection of ingredients. Think about the number of people sharing your cheeseboard to gauge size.

Give texture to the board before placing ingredients – a sheet of torn baking paper, scattered fig leaves or grapevine leaves, when in season.

Use small bowls or dishes to hold ingredients where there is liquid involved, such as olives in olive oil, chutneys or relishes.

Knives and spoons

Offer a different knife for each cheese. This keeps the character of each cheese separate as well as not having to continuously pass one knife around.

Put a small spoon in with the piccalilli and have one for the small olives.

New Zealand Cheeses

You can use larger pieces and less variety, but remember to mix up the varieties to provide flavour and texture.

Bringing cheese to room temperature is essential to give the best eating experience. Up to four hours is generally the recommended time, with the exception of fresh cheeses where up to 30 minutes is plenty.

Crackers and bread

Oat crackers are a favourite with cheese. Locally made oat crackers are a must on this cheeseboard.

Breadsticks give texture and interest and are a great accompaniment for cured meat. Wrap a small amount of very thinly sliced Prosciutto around each breadstick.

You can add sliced sourdough bread or oven-toasted bread slices as well as crackers.

Lay out the Platter

Fill spaces with ingredients with flavour, texture and colour. Add a subtle sweetness with fruit paste or you could add, fresh honeycomb.

Fresh strawberries refresh the palate and look stunning on a cheeseboard, as do raspberries.

If raspberries are out of season, try replacing them with a handful of whole freeze-dried raspberries.

Dried fruit, such as apricots, figs or golden raisins fills empty spaces, as do handfuls of nuts.

Piccalilli adds juiciness and that piquancy we all love, especially when paired with the Meyer fenugreek gouda or Barrys Bay maasdam.

A handful of yellow or red cherry tomatoes will add juiciness too.

Finish your cheeseboard with a few sprigs of fresh herbs.

Baked NZ brie or camembert

Serves 6

150g of NZ-made brie or camembert

1 tablespoon runny honey

a few fresh rosemary flowers

Preheat the oven to 180degC. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Place the unwrapped brie or camembert on the prepared tray. Score the top using a sharp knife then place in the oven to bake for 15 minutes. If you gently shake the tray you will see the brie or camembert wobble in the centre.

Remove from the oven and transfer, paper and all, to a serving board or plate. Warm the honey and drizzle over.

Scatter over a few fresh rosemary flowers or you could scatter with soft herb leaves.

NZ cheese fondue 


Serves 4

A fondue is not difficult. However, unless you make it regularly,  take care when melting the cheese.  Cheese fondue is usually served with cubes of bread, boiled potatoes, charcuterie and cornichons.  Sip a great NZ white wine, kirsch or a tisane of herbal tea, as any of these will help you to digest all that cheese.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes as needed to melt cheese in batches

Easy but take care, (melted cheese burns!)

250ml white wine, a crisp white wine like sauvignon blanc

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

250g Barrys Bay Maasdam, grated

400g Kapiti Kowhai Gruyere style cheese, grated

nutmeg, for grating

To serve

slightly stale bread, cubed

boiled potatoes, cut into pieces, we used Earth Gems

Put the wine and garlic in a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat and bring to a simmer.

Add the Maasdam, in batches, stirring vigorously as it melts. You can use a wooden spoon to stir the melting cheese or use a whisk. Once melted, add the Gruyere style cheese, again in batches, stirring until it melts.

Finely grate a little nutmeg over the cheese mixture and stir through.

Transfer to a fondue set and enjoy!






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