Cheese. No matter which way you slice it, fromage is a dinner party staple suitable for any winter holiday get-together. Pair your cheese of choice with a selection of cooked meats or charcuterie, and voila: You have a delectable plate of hor d’oeuvres perfect for a festive occasion.
Centrally located in New Paltz’s bustling Water Street Market, The Cheese Plate is a Hudson Valley gourmet hub. Co-owners since 2012 and happily married duo Theresa and Jeff Logan offer their insight into what makes the perfect cheese and charcuterie platter when the weather outside is frightful. Theresa, a mother of three who loves sharing her passion for cheese with the world, sums it up best: “People love cheese! It’s universal.” At The Cheese Plate, staff value customer service, offering guests an engaging and educational experience. Guests can try samples and walk away with a few slices of cheese, a hot or cold cheese sandwich, or a custom cheese plate, depending on their needs and preferences. Theresa thinks this is why so many people come to the Cheese Plate.
“It’s not just, ‘Here’s your cheese—bye-bye,’” she says. “We educate. We really just want people to be educated about cheese.”
Cheese plates are the perfect way to sample many different variations, Theresa says. To construct the perfect plate, she recommends varying textures and flavors. Theresa loves to mix salty and sweet or hard and soft cheeses, and she adds nuts, fruits, and crackers or bread as sides.
Condiments are something people may overlook, but Theresa enjoys adding a splash of raw honey or seasoned, coarse-cut chutney to enhance the cheeses’ flavors.
Not every cheese plate has to have meat, Theresa and Jeff say, but charcuterie specialties like spicy chorizo or Italian prosciutto can add dimension and unique flavor to a simple platter.
No matter which way you slice it, fromage is a dinner party staple suitable for any winter holiday get-together.
Theresa’s signature touch? Mixing her sources. The cheese aficionado loves to assemble plates with cheese from cow’s milk, goat’s milk, and sheep’s milk.
Come wintertime, Theresa and Jeff add an array of seasonal foreign cheeses suitable for any holiday gathering to The Cheese Plate’s robust lineup, ranging anywhere from 60 to 80 cheeses at a time. Stilton, a blue cheese imported from the United Kingdom, makes its annual appearance around the holidays. Ubriaco prosecco, a hard Italian cheese bathed in prosecco musk, is another specialty Theresa loves and brings back each winter.
“We love to bring in cheeses that people normally wouldn’t have during the year,” she says. “It’s fun and interesting.”
Theresa recommends adding seasonal sides to holiday cheese plates—like walnuts or candied toffee—to enhance a festive theme. Of course, no cheese plate is complete without wine that complements its flavors. That doesn’t mean cheese newbies should fret, though; like all good things in life, toying with cheeses and sides for a seasonal platter should be fun.
“I’m a firm believer that it all just goes together,”Theresa says with a smile.Stop by these Hudson Valley cheese stores to start building your first holiday cheese plate of the year!