hard cheese with bluberries, pomegranate and salami

It is to say the least, edible art. I find myself building platters all the time. In culinary school, I did a cheese and wine pairing for my final project. The cheeses all had little name tags and mini pewter cheese knives used appropriately(which I still have!), layered on a platter and elegantly paired with Waterford Crystal wine glasses. It was fun to gain knowledge and learn the history of regions represented by the cheese and wine respectively, and I gained a better understanding of what was being eaten. Some of those picks are my top fivers today, easily. In work, it was my job to find a way to display various seafoods and meat cases attractivly for customers, to build deli and seafood trays, and package and wrap portions. At home, we often eat cheese platters with lovely fruits and vegetables found locally. By having a nice variety of crackers and nuts will provide enough dietary fiber and protein boosts. Providing a variety of cheeses will also add to style, taste and texture, and will surely be a conversation piece.

spinach and artichoke dip with bread and crudités

Its always wonderful to wash and treat the vegetables to a cool ice bath,  but really, simplicity is key when prepping for a party or work function. Try not to take on too much and enjoy your party! The key to building a fabulous party tray is to know what ingredients you are using, a sufficient platter to mount on, plenty of ramekins for height differentiation, and a beautiful kale or romaine lettuce leaves to line the plate. I tend to mix up the cheese and do one or two soft ripened, one or two semi hard and sometimes a fresh or semi hard variety. Some olives or cornichons are also a nice accompaniment. A great resource for cheese is cheese.com, it covers all types!

Lastly, make sure to include some protein in the form of thinly sliced aged salumi, or a paper thin sliced prosciutto, or pate made of game meat. It will help to keep a balanced meal, but most importantly, keep your palate busy with all the tantalizing flavors. Build your platter with grounded purpose, a focused eye, and an vision of how you want it to look. You may feel free to garnish with edible flowers or sprigs of green parsley.

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