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Holiday Cheese Platter Made Easy

Holiday Cheese Platter Made EasyThe holidays are a time for entertaining, parties and last minute guests. But there’s not a lot of time for planning, shopping or cooking. That’s why I like to keep my refrigerator stocked with an assortment of items from FRESH’s Cheese & Charcuterie department.

It’s easy to build a quick cheese platter that includes sliced meat, various cheeses, artisanal crackers, olives, dried fruit and spreads. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, and there are so many great options.

I generally start with three cheeses. The first one being a hard cheese – something like Gruyere, Grana Padano, manchego or a sharp English cheddar. The next cheese will be something soft – brie, goat, Camembert or a marinated mozzarella. The last cheese I choose is blue. There are many varieties of blue cheese that are very nice with rich flavors that are sweet and nutty. Some great examples are Gorgonzola, Roquefort or some of the American artisanal blues like Point Reyes.

For the charcuterie, some good choices are Prosciutto di Parma, speck, Italian salami, mortadella or, from Spain, serrano or chorizo. Pâté can also be served in cubes or as a spread.

Finish it off with a fruit spread, artisanal honey, dried fruit or Marcona almonds. Be sure to grab some of the artisanal crackers or flatbread located by the Olive Bar, and then, head over to the Bakery for a sliced baguette, Italian loaf or hard rolls.

Here are a few items to try when building your cheese platter.

Leoncini Mortadella: Known as the original bologna, this typical charcuterie product from Italy is characterized by an exclusive and delicate flavor that is hearty, yet delicate and mild.

Alexian Chicken & Veal Pâté: Traditional, country-style pâté to be served by the slice or cubed and placed on toothpicks. Can also be used as a spread on artisan bread. Made with veal, chicken breast, chicken liver and cognac.

Kerrygold Blarney Castle: 100 percent natural, grass-fed cheese that is mild and creamy with rich and velvety undertones. Taste and texture is similar to a young Dutch Gouda.

Cana de Cabra Goat Log: Cana de Cabra is a soft-ripened cheese made from pasteurized goat’s milk, in Murcia, Spain. This creamy, buttery, mild and delicious cheese has a bloomy rind with semi-soft texture. Aged for 21 days, as it ages, the flavor intensifies.

Point Reyes Original Blue: Artisanal, American Farmstead cheese from California. This blue is creamy with layers of full flavor. It is sweet and milky with a medium-to-strong punch of blue flavor.