How to Make the Perfect Cheese Platter "Pilgrim Style":
Our Pilgrim Sailing sunset cruises are one of our most popular things to do onboard. On every trip, we not only go sailing, but we serve unlimited Tamburlaine Organic Wines, and local beers and every group are served their own personal cheese platter.
Although I certainly wouldn't call myself an expert, I have made a lot of cheese platters over the past ten years, and have enjoyed refining it as I go along! So, how do I do it?
Firstly, The Cheese:
I always select three kinds of cheese to go on my cheese board, unless catering for a large group of people when you may need to add a couple of extras.
My platter includes:
1. A hard cheese, generally a good quality cheddar which has some bite.
2. A soft cheese, generally a brie, camembert or similar
3. An interesting cheese. Our absolute favourite is the Gallo Dairyland macadamia nut cheese. It is to die for. Alternatively, you could choose a washed rind or a blue cheese.
How much cheese per person?
As a rule of thumb, you're looking for 25-30 g per cheese per person assuming you have three kinds of cheese on the platter for an entree or dessert.
Secondly, is the crackers:
I also like to serve three types of crackers, but this may be over the top and two would be sufficient.
1. Jatz or Savoys - ok, controversial, I know. A little bit basic, but everyone loves them. Paul wouldn't let me put a cheese platter out at home without a Jatz featured, so I apply that principle on board too.
Side note: The importance of the Jatz cracker was confirmed by one of our regular guests onboard Pilgrim. Just before I brought out the cheese platter, he proudly announced that one of the favourite things about our sunset cruises was that we always served Jatz on the cheese platter. You can imagine how hard it was to tell him that due to an oversight on my part, we had run out on that day. Note, I have not run out again since!!!
2. Some plain crackers - water biscuits or wafers. If you're buying wafer crackers, make sure you don't buy a cheap brand as they go stale very quickly once exposed to the air.
Top tip: if you don't finish a whole packet keep them in a plastic container in the fridge. They'll last much longer.
3. Some interesting crackers. This could be a bark style cracker or OB Finest - Goji Berry and Coconut is my favourite. [OB Finest, is my go-to brand on Pilgrim]
Another alternative is Janet's sesame crispbread. Here's the recipe:
JANET'S SESAME CRISPBREAD
1 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup flax seed
1/4 LSA mix
3 desert spoons ground psyllium husk
2 oz finely grated Parmesan
Large pinch Malden salt
Water, (about 1/2 cup)
1 beaten egg
Add different toppings: herbs, rosemary, chilli, seaweed salt. For variation.
Next, on the perfect cheese platter is the Condiment:
This one is a no-brainer on Pilgrim: Clare's famous Pumpkin Chutney. This is now available for sale, or if you want to give it a go yourself, here's the recipe.
Then, comes the Fruit:
The most obvious being grapes, I like to use red and white for the colour. But out of season grapes are either terrible quality or very expensive! So my advice is to look for something in season, colourful and reasonably priced. Some of my favourites are passion fruit (picked straight off our vine at home), kiwi fruit, strawberries or figs.
Now, the olives:
Olives can be a personal thing - black, green, whole, pitted, stuffed etc. My personal favourite is the almond stuffed olives from Stubborn Olives (a Sydney based company).
I'm currently searching for a Queensland olive producer, ideally from North Queensland, but so far my research has not delivered. Please get in touch with any recommendations!
Finally, the sprinkle or the gap filler:
I use nuts or blueberries to fill up the cheese platter and make sure it looks pretty and there are no gaps, that is until someone takes the first bite.
To conclude on my take of the perfect cheese platter:
By no means is this the only formula for a delicious cheese platter but it's one which has helped me over the years and takes the thinking out of it every time.
The three overarching principles I apply to every cheese platter, whether at home or on Pilgrim:
- Support local producers, wherever possible
- Choose seasonal ingredients - they taste better and are generally cheaper
- Don't skimp on quality
I hope you enjoy serving you your next cheese platter!