One question I am often asked is ‘how to best present cheese?’ In other words, how to do aesthetic justice to the glorious appearance of a fresh cut artisanal wedge.
I do love cheese on wood – and there is definite poetic harmony in seeing cheese on a board (as rounds often sit on wood planks as they are aged). Slate and marble are other options, and both lend an earth-sourced connection.
But one of my favorite presentations for a single, or small grouping of cheeses, is on antique china plates.
This backdrop speaks of a time when the art of the plate or dish was, indeed, a great art, a skill, and a passion. Each is capable of adding drama to the other’s story. Imagine a plate depicting Napoleon on horseback in full attire, and on this sits the famous Valencay goat cheese… a visual testament to Bonaparte’s famous sword-to-pyramid truncation! Or picture your favorite trappist-style washed-rind (be it Baluchon or Munster) on one of Royal Doulton’s monk-series collector plates. Both beautiful reflections of time and history. Offering guests these glimpses can really spark conversation, elevate the mood and define the total experience.
But a word of warning…plate collecting can become quite consuming. In the 1600’s collectors were labeled as having ‘maladie de porcelaine’,or porcelain sickness, due to the obsessive behavior they demonstrated in search of the perfect plate. Personally, I think I may simply have plate mania.
As a footnote, one of my very first gift plate purchases was at eight years old. It had roses and an inscription that began…”to one who bears the sweetest name…” , and it hung in the kitchen from that day forward. It was to my Mother on Mother’s Day, and according to her “the loveliest plate ever”. Many years and many plates later we wish all mothers a very Happy Mother’s Day!!!