My son and his family live in a tiny little town in California. I always tell people that he lives in Northern California because it’s north of San Francisco and it is, literally, always cold when I visit. Every.darn.visit. Somehow for me that translates to being in the North. Someone who’s actually from California told me that the area where he lives is considered “Middle” California.
Is that like “Middle-Earth”? I want to ask, because I fail to see the distinction. Should I be on the lookout for a gold ring, a golem and a hobbit to save me, and my UGGs, from the endless drizzle and 40 degree weather in the month of MAY?
The state is so, so amazing, and I love my time there. But they are a nation unto themselves. Seriously.
My son, who to me is much more King in the North than Frodo, and his beautiful bride were lured to California years ago by an organic and vegetarian food business that hired the boy out of college to be a dairy buyer for them. The company rewarded the leap of faith they made to leave their family on the East Coast to make a home on the West Coast by sending the boy all over the world to buy cheese while my daughter-in-law busied herself by becoming an award winning cheese maker. Long story short, they’re now both cheese makers for a tiny little cheese company they’ve started called Folly Cheese, and we’re real proud of that.
Also along the way, they added another member to the family. We’re all in love with her little self, so the visits have become more frequent and that much sweeter – cold, drizzle, and golems be damned!
On my last visit, I asked the Boy to show me how to build the perfect cheese plate, since this is his business and he would know. I thought I would share with you all on Father’s Day, in honor of the fact that the Boy turned out to be one of the best Dad’s I know, his perfect cheese plate.
Basically, the key to building the perfect cheese plate is variety, combining flavors, colors, and textures that complement each other. For our plates, we used a bolder cheese and a flavored cheese. Shortbread crackers, artisan crisps, red grapes, dried apricots, walnuts, apples, charcute, olives, blue cheese, a European hard cheese, Brie, a nice imported aged cheddar, feta, and some honey.
Cheeses should be served at room temperature or you won’t really taste them. To make our cheese plate we used some imported as well as some local cheeses from Mount Tam from Cowgirl Creamery, Point Reyes blue cheese, a soft cheese from Tomales Farmstead Creamery, and of course, Folly Cheese.
Presentation is important, but you don’t need to get fancy unless you’re really feeling fancy. Even just a simple cutting board can do double duty as a cheese plate. Come to think of it, a cake plate, a platter, a basket… just about anything works as a cheese plate. Go crazy.
Throwing a full wheel of cheese on a board is beautiful but guests typically won’t want to make the first cut. Go ahead and break up the cheese into some chunky pieces and leave some cutting implements and spreading knives on the plate.
Also, crackers, crisps and crostini take up a lot of room so it’s better to serve those in a basket on the side. You really can’t mess up though, so do what feels right and looks beautiful to you.
Our crostini here were delicious and so easy to make. Here’s the recipe:
PREHEAT your oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon sheet.
SLICE baguette into rounds about ¼ inch thick and toss those into a gallon-sized plastic bag.
DRIZZLE into the bag about ¼ cup of olive oil
ADD salt and pepper to taste
SEAL and then shake, shake, shake the bag
SPREAD bread slice over a cookie sheet and put into the oven for about 6 minutes, turn over and cook for another 6 minutes or until brown