Christmas is a great time to do cheese platters for an easy appetizer. Trader Joes offers a pretty good selection when it comes to an inexpensive place to get cheeses, nuts, dried fruits, and antipastos. One of my favorite finds right now is their cinnamon Pecorino. The cinnamon adds a unique and slightly sweet flavor to the cheese and is great shaved on roasted root vegetables or with a crostini. Another favorite is their honey goat cheese. This is fabulous in salads or on a simple crostini. Don’t be afraid to try new flavors!
While doing a cheese platter here are some pointers:
1. Have a selection of different cheeses including different textures and milk bases. Some of my recommendations are St. Andre for a rich creamy brie, Jarlsberg for a mild Swiss, an aged Pecorino such as the cinnamon Pecorino at T.J. and a goat cheese such as the honey goat cheese or herbed goat cheese at Trader Joes. These are starting points so feel free to mix it up with a nice blue or a sharp white Irish cheddar.
2. Always include some fresh fruit and nuts. Cheese can be heavy so it is perfect to pair with fresh crisp apples or even fresh figs.
3. I like to always include an antipasto such as Trader Joes’ Slow Roasted Yellow Tomatoes, or some cured meats like a prosciutto and salami . These are great to pair with a Boursin cheese or to eat on crackers with a Pecorino.
4. Don’t be afraid to branch out! I often pair cheeses with a truffle honey, an aged balsamic, fig jam or even chocolate! Yes, I said chocolate. Be adventurous!