Composing a cheese plate

Sometimes it’s hard to put together a cheese plate when you’re a cheese geek.

Like when you’re on holiday, cut off from specialist food stores, with just a regular supermarket and a hankering for a feed of cheese.  

That was me at Waikanae, my friends.

Thankfully I’d listened to an interview with Brian Keyser and Leigh Friend, authors of Composing the Cheese Plate. So sage advice in mind, I headed to the supermarket. 

Sage advice #1 – get inspired by what’s in season.
OK, I had rhubarb from my garden, plums from a roadside stall and I know raspberries are in season. A rhubarb, plum and raspberry compote or some such gentle jamminess would work wonders with cheese.

Sage advice #2 Really think about a cheese match.
Sounds obvious, but it’s worth remembering and giving some thought to the flavours and textures on the plate.  

My compote would have the sweet of plum, tart of rhubarb and fragrance of raspberries. So a light fresh Goats cheese would make a fine companion. 

I’d seen those little rindless logs of goat chèvre at the supermarkets. Perfect.

Sage advice #3 Think about whether you really need bread or crackers. 

Brian Keyser noted that we often serve bread or crackers out of habit, rather than because they make a plate better.

My textures would be sloppy stew and crumbly cheese so I’d need some form of transport. Crispy lavosh, with sea salt seemed my best option, and I was able to get a commercial version at the supermarket.

Here’s the recipe for my compote. I added lightly toasted pistachios. They gave colour, a rich base note and a little more crunch.

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Rhubarb, plum and raspberry compote

  • 4 plums, halved
  •  1 cup chopped rhubarb
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

1. Slice rhubarb in inch long pieces, cut plums in half and destone as carefully as you can be bothered. 

2. Place the rhubarb, plum, honey and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer.

3. Simmer gently without a lid for 8 – 10 minutes, or until the fruit has softened and the sauce has thickened. 

4. When it’s a nice jammy texture remove and cool. Gently fold in a handful of raspberries. Note, if the fruit has cooked and it’s getting too runny, remove the fruit and cook down the liquid.

5. Serve the compote cooled with goats cheese, lightly toasted pistachios and sea salt lavosh.

5 thoughts on “Composing a cheese plate

  1. At first glance I thought your title was “composting” a cheese platter, that would have been good, too! For all those left over uneaten corners of brie gone a bit too mushy…

  2. At first glance I thought your title was “composting” a cheese platter, that would have been good, too! For all those left over uneaten corners of brie gone a bit too mushy…

  3. Love it! – we always use what is in season with our cheese – coming up soon and I can’t wait are persimmons from the orchard on our road, walnuts from our tree or the best in NZ are from Uncle Joe’s Walnuts in Marlborough. Cut the persimmons cross section into rounds and they have a beautiful natural star embossed on them and you don’t need crackers. That’s my favourite way to show off our Blue Monkey cheese. Don’t know if you’re going to be at Martinborough Fair this weekend but if you are then hunt us down and say Hi. Cheers Jill

    Mount Eliza Cheese Ltd 266, Hot Springs Road RD2 Katikati 3178 07 549 5669

    1. Persimmon, walnut and blue cheese- now that sounds like a combo. I like when you have fruit or vege instead of crackers or bread, you usually get to eat more cheese. I won’t be up at Martinborough Fair unfortunately, fingers crossed for some good weather.

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