25 August 2017 - by Vermont Fresh Network

Plate Cheese Like a Pro

Though it's unofficial, July is the cheesiest month of the year - the Vermont Cheesemakers Festival takes over Shelburne Farms on August 16th and ushers in a string of national and worldwide cheese competitions where Vermont producers win big. Of course, we don't need fancy awards to know that Vermont cheese is exceptional, but it's nice to share our knowledge with the world. Naturally, Vermont chefs also know a thing or two about our state pride and you can find gourmet cheese lists and boards in restaurants across the state. Here are some pro tips, pics, and [virtual] tastes of their cheese boards.

 Pics & Tips

duo Restaurant, Brattleboro | Owner Stephanie Bonin

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What are the must-have components to the perfect cheese plate?

Variety in texture & correct sizing of the cheese wedges. Palate fatigue is real and too much of a good thing can leave us no longer enjoying what tasted amazing the first 2 bites. Textures are another way we taste food and complementing textures allow us to taste a cheese differently.

Your most out-of-the-box cheese plate addition?

Housemade olive shortbread.

What's your best advice for a novice looking to create an incredible cheese plate? 

Ask your favorite chef in your town.

Tell us about your cheese plate…

Chocolate & Cheese. Tavernier chocolate truffles / pistachios / pear chip / strawberries / Champlain Valley, Triple Cream / 2 year Grafton Village Cheese, Cheddar Cheese / Blue Ledge Farm, blue cheese

The Dining Room at Edson Hill, Stowe | Chef Jason Bissell

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What are the must-have components to the perfect cheese plate?

Mustard, seasonal compote or jam, and pickles.

Your most out-of-the-box cheese plate addition?

Pickled cherries and chanterelles.

Your favorite Vermont cheese to work with right now? 

Jasper Hill Harbison

What's your best advice for a novice looking to create an incredible cheese plate?

A good variety of cheese - a soft cheese, a semi-soft, maybe a blue and variety of animals - sheep, goat, cow, etc.. 

Tell us about your cheese plate…

We currently offer four local cheeses and charcuterie, served with a seasonal jam, pickles, house-made crackers and Elmore Mountain Bread. The usual [cheese] suspects are Sage Goat, Lazy Lady, Bayley Hazen, Champlain Creamery, Sweet Rowen.

Inn at Shelburne Farms, Shelburne | Chef Jim McCarthy 

Shelburne Farms Cheese Plate 1

What are the must-have components to the perfect cheese plate?

CHEESE, nuts, dried fruit, herbs.

Your favorite Vermont cheese to work with right now?

Shelburne Farms Cheddar and Blue Ledge Farm's Lake's Edge

What's your best advice for a novice looking to create an incredible cheese plate? 

To make it appealing, don't 'pile' the cheese. Take the time to lay each piece down and use the natural curves of the cheese to make lines on the platter. And don't be afraid to keep some whole!

Tell us about your cheese plate…

It's a selection of 5 to 6 Vermont cheeses that are accompanied by nuts, jam, fruit butter, and crackers.

American Flatbread - Middlebury Hearth, Middlebury | Chef Samantha Langevin

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What are the must-have components to the perfect cheese plate?

A variety of textures - you don't want soft on soft on more soft. I also feel strongly that cheese plates in VT should have VT products on them - there is so much good cheese here it is a little ridiculous.

Your most out-of-the-box cheese plate addition?

We regularly rotate cheese plates and structure them as pairings. A recent (and unusual) pairing was organic pineapple with lime juice, mint, a spice blend of sumac and ground red pepper flakes, Orb Weaver's Cave Aged cheese, Maldon salt, and house-made corn nuts.

Your favorite Vermont cheese to work with right now? 

I cannot choose..... Champlain Valley Creamery Pyramid Scheme, Orb Weaver, Humble Pie, Bijou, Bayley Hazen Blue....

What's your best advice for a novice looking to create an incredible cheese plate?

Balance texture, flavor and color. Cheese plates should have some pop to them, on both visual and taste ranges.

Tell us about your cheese plate…

This week's cheese plate is American-made prosciutto, house-made black pepper crackers, cielegine mozzarella (made with VT milk) and a blood orange reduction. Garnish is some brightly colored celosia, from the garden.

New England Culinary Institute, Montpelier | Chefs Martha Franklin and Jean Louis Gerin

cheese plate 1

What are the must-have components to the perfect cheese plate?

Three cheeses, nuts, some sort of fruit compote, bread or crackers.

Your most out-of-the-box cheese plate addition?

Pickled fiddleheads - pickled in house.

Your favorite Vermont cheese to work with right now?

Vermont Creamery and Sweet Rowen Farm

What's your best advice for a novice looking to create an incredible cheese plate?

Taste to see what you like, you should have a variety of tastes on the plate - not all one dimensional. Play with texture, mouthfeel, and flavors of the cheeses (one with ash, one dry aged, one fresh, etc.).

Tell us about your cheese plate…

American Continental with French flair.

Bistro De Margot, Burlington | Chef Herve Mahe

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What are the must-have components to the perfect cheese plate? 

Some crunch, some (good) bread, something fresh, Cheeses (of course), a bit of green. 

Your favorite Vermont cheese to work with right now?

Vermont Creamery Bijou, Jasper Hill Blue, Cobb Hill Ascutney Mountain. 

What's your best advice for a novice looking to create an incredible cheese plate?

Keep it SIMPLE.

Tell us about your cheese plate…

Selection of VT 3 cheeses that we rotate on a regularly: Bijou Vt Creamery, Jasper Hill Bailey Hazen Blue, Smoked Cheddar from Grafton Village. Apple butter, candied walnut, grilled O'Bread whole wheat or French round, dried cranberry, apple.

The Inn at Weathersfield, Perkinsville | Chef Michael Ehlenfeldt 

Cheese Weathersfield

What are the must-have components to the perfect cheese plate?

The cheeses are often from cheese makers that I know in Vermont. We only serve components w cheese that we make as well as a few slices of dates. I like to serve the grilled toast warm which has been drizzled with a fruity olive oil.

Your most out-of-the-box cheese plate addition?

Candied spaghetti squash.

Your favorite Vermont cheese to work with right now?

The soft goat cheese from Lazy Lady and the soft cheese from Woodcock Farm.

What's your best advice for a novice looking to create an incredible cheese plate?

Have 3 different styles of cheese to see what you might like the best, but only what you will eat in a short period of time.

Tell us about your cheese plate… 

3-5 Vermont cheeses served with 2 different condiments, sliced dates and warm toast points.

Long Trail Brewery, Bridgewater Corners | Manager Brian Sherwood

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What are the must-have components to the perfect cheese plate? 

Local Vermont cheese.

Your favorite Vermont cheese to work with right now?

Our own Blackbeary Wheat Cheddar made by Vermont Farmstead. Pictured above is Long Trail/Vermont Farmstead Limbo Cheddar collaboration - read about that here!

No pics - Just Tips

Michael's on the Hill, Waterbury | Chef Michael Kloeti 

What are the must-have components to the perfect cheese plate? 

Seasonal fruit compote, house pickled local vegetables, toasted nuts, local honey, Red Hen Fig bread, 4 diverse cheeses (different milk, different textures, flavors). 

Your most out-of-the-box cheese plate addition?

Pickled Vermont watermelon rind; housemade raisins on the vine.

Your favorite Vermont cheese to work with right now?

Sage Farm Worcester Tomme 

What's your best advice for a novice looking to create an incredible cheese plate?

Always select different styles of cheese for an interesting plate, and try to have a balance of flavor and texture to keep the palate stimulated.

Tell us about your cheese plate…

Our cheese plate selection rotates. Our servers verbally tell the guest the offerings each night, and with their board, a small framed cheese menu with descriptions is placed on the table. We offer a selection of 3 local cheeses plus Tete de Moine, a cheese from Michael's home of Switzerland. Served on a wooden board with house pickled vegetables, fruit compote, local honey, toasted nuts, Red Hen Fig Bread. Our items change from time to time.

Tip Top Cafe, White River Junction | Owner Eileen McGuckin

What are the must-have components to the perfect cheese plate?

Fruit and nuts. 

Your most out-of-the-box cheese plate addition?

Date almond cakes.

Your favorite Vermont cheese to work with right now?

We use an assortment of cheeses on our cheese plate. We try to always have goat, sheep and cow's milk cheese and try to mix up textures, hard, soft, semi-soft.

What's your best advice for a novice looking to create an incredible cheese plate?

Don't be afraid to mix it up and experiment with cheeses you are not familiar with. 

Tell us about your cheese plate…

3 ounces of 3 different kinds of VT cheese, date almond cakes, seasonal fruit, Marcona almonds, and seeded lavash crackers from King Arthur Flour.

Just a Pic - isn't she a beauty?

Prohibition Pig, Waterbury | Chef Michael Werneke 

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