When it comes to entertaining, acing the perfect cheese platter can be the magical touch. But with so many options on the shelf, it’s hard to know where to even begin. Enter cheese barista Dave Mellor, who’s tasked with tasting up to 300 cheeses a day (yep, that’s our dream job). Find out what should be on your board this year, and what really shouldn’t.
The one cheese you should have
‘Drizzle some balsamic vinaigrette over shaved parmesan cheese,’ says Dave. ‘It’s a bit unusual as people don’t think of serving shaved parmesan alone, but it works so well.’ Dave is a fan of Mil Lel parmesan cheese for its strong flavour.
Get acquainted with your supermarket
Sure, you could buy expensive artisan cheese, but with so many quality supermarket brands, there’s really no need to. Dave’s recommendations? Coon and Cracker Barrel’s vintage cheddars for their full flavour.
Don’t forget the accompaniments
‘Chutneys and relishes work well because they cleanse the palate and bring out the strong Australian cheese flavours,’ explains Dave, who favours Maggie Beer’s quince paste. When it comes to biscuits, a plain cracker allows the cheese’s full flavours to come through. And if you want to include some charcuterie: ‘pastrami and pepperoni go very well’ Dave adds.
What not to add
‘Never serve cheese with citrus fruits like lemons or oranges,' Dave says. 'The flavours don’t contrast well.' He also advises saving spiced cheeses to be served on their own, as they can overpower milder cheeses on the board.
Cheese and wine pairings
‘Most people have it right when they pair a red cab sav with a cheddar,’ says Dave. ‘For creamy cheeses like brie or camembert, a dessert wine cuts through well.’ For non-alcoholic drinks, Dave suggests elderflower or lavender cordials.
‘Many people use plastic wrap to store their cheese, but this makes it sweat, ruining taste and texture,’ says Dave. Instead, he recommends wrapping the cheese in wax paper, before storing it in an air-tight container in the fridge. Make sure it’s properly sealed or it will absorb other flavours and smells from the fridge.
For something different
To get people talking, Dave suggests roasting a whole camembert cheese, slicing off the top, then serving with crusty bread to dip in fondue-style. YUM!