A cheese plate is a great way to entertain and impress your guests. Cheese plates work well for parties because they allow you to freely snack and chat with your guests! At Reading Terminal Market we have five cheese merchants, with plenty of cheesy knowledge to share!
First, let’s start with the star of the show— the cheese. For a well-rounded cheese board, it’s key to incorporate a variety of textures and flavors. To do so, we recommend choosing one cheese from each category: soft, aged, firm and blue.
Brie: AKA “The Queen of Cheeses,” is a soft-ripened cheese with a buttery, rich flavor and a wonderfully creamy interior.
- Downtown Cheese: Homemade White Truffle Brie; Saint André (not exactly a Brie, but a richer, creamier cousin)
- Fair Food Farmstand:Thistle Raw Cow Milk (Valley Milkhouse)
- Riehl Cheese:Brie Couronne (Henri Hutin)
- Salumeria: Fromager d’Affinois; Brie de Meaux (Meaux, France)
Pair with: Chardonnay
Goat (chèvre): A simple, yet flavorful soft cheese. Goat cheese comes in many different tastes, shapes and textures.
- Downtown Cheese:Honey Goat Log; Purple Haze (Cypress Grove Chevre)
- Fair Food Farmstand:Ash Log (Pipe Dreams Fromage); Demi Sec
- Riehl Cheese: Silver Goat Chevre
- Valley Shepherd:Fresh Goat Cheeses
Pair with: Sauvignon Blanc
Sharp Cheddar: Sharp cheddar goes well with everything and is always a crowd pleaser. It is aged anywhere between six to 18 months and as it ages, the flavor deepens and the texture hardens.
- Fair Food Farmstand:Mature Cheddar (Clover Creek); Sharp Cheddar (Conebella Farm)
- Riehl Cheese:Cheddar Smoked Bacon Horseradish; Raw Milk Sharp Cheddar
- Salumeria: NY three-year Cheddar; Fiscalini Clothbound Cheddar
- Valley Shepherd: Valley Thunder
Pair with: Pinot Noir
Gouda: A semi-hard cheese loved for its smooth texture and rich, unique flavor. Gouda has an almost sweet, fruity taste that develops with age.
- Downtown Cheese:Smoked Gouda (Netherlands)
- Fair Food Farmstand:Old + Gold (Hidden Hills); Seven Sisters (Doe Run Farm)
- Riehl Cheese:Gouda; Smoked Gouda with Bacon
- Salumeria:Red Wax Gouda
- Valley Shepherd:Califon Tome
Pair with: Merlot
Gruyere: A hard, yellow cheese from Switzerland. As Gruyere ages, the flavor matures from creamy and fruity to more earthy and nutty.
- Fair Food Farmstand:Idyll (Parish Hill Creamery); Washington’s Crossing (Ely Farm)
- Riehl Cheese:Gruyere
- Salumeria:Caveage Gruyere
- Valley Shepherd: Somerset
Pair With: Pinot Noir
Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan): Considered to be one of the most popular cheeses, Parmesan has a very hard, gritty texture. Often used grated over Italian dishes, Parmesan’s fruity and nutty taste is even more delicious when eaten on its own.
- Downtown Cheese: Parmigiano Reggiano (Italy); Reggianito (Argentina)
- Salumeria: Parmigiano Reggiano (Italy)
Pair With: Chianti
Classic Blue cheeses like Stilton and Gorgonzola (just to name a couple) will introduce a pop of flavor to your cheese board. Blue cheese has a salty, creamy taste to it, which will be sure to add a funky contrast.
- Downtown Cheese: Stilton (Nottinghamshire, England); Bleu Des Causses (Auvergne, France)
- Fair Food Farmstand: Birchrun Blue (Birchrun Hills)
- Riehl Cheese: Blue Stilton Cheese
- Salumeria:Bleu d’Auvergne (Auvergne, France); West West Blue (Parish Hill Creamery)
- Valley Shepherd: Azure; Crema de Bleu
Pair with: Riesling
Now it’s time to focus on what you should serve your cheese with...and on. Jazz up your board with your favorite meats, spreads, and other small garnishes!
Charcuterie: Stop by Salumeria, Downtown Cheese, or Valley Shepherd for prosciutto, dried salami, and many other cured-meats. For an added treat, visit La Divisa Meats for their house-made cured meats and pates.
Olive Bar: Peruse Salumeria, Downtown Cheese, and Valley Shepherd, for a large selection on olives and other savory goodies that are perfect to nibble on.
Spreads: Sweet spreads like Apple Pepper Jelly (Fair Food Farmstand), Bauman’s Apricot Butter (PA General Store), or Fig Jam (Kauffman’s Lancaster County Produce) will introduce contrasting, yet complementary flavors to your board.
Fruits and Nuts: Apples, pears, and grapes are classics, not to mention easily prepared and inexpensive, but get creative by using sour cherries and dried apricots. For nuts, Spanish Marcona almonds are always a unique and tasty option.
Bread or Crackers? This is your cheese plate, so choose your preference! However, we recommend serving both bread and crackers to continue playing with different textures. Try choosing bread and crackers that match the cheeses being served.
Here are a few RTM options:
- Locally made wheat thins (Riehl Cheese)
- Carr’s Table Water Crackers (Salumeria, Downtown Cheese, Jonathan Best Gourmet Grocer)
- French Baguette (Market Bakery, Metropolitan Bakery)
- Petits Toast (Salumeria, Downtown Cheese)
- Homemade Crackers made by Flying Monkey (Valley Shepherd)
Cheeseboards, Platters, Knives, and more: Visit Amy's Place for handcrafted USA made slate and wood boards from J.K. Adams; specialty knives and spreaders from Swissmar; and Fromaticum coated cheese paper for the leftovers (if there are any)!
Voilà! And just like that, you’re a cheese board expert! Next time you’re planning a get together, remember Reading Terminal Market is your one-stop shop for your ideal cheese tray. Enjoy!
**All wine pairings can be found at Blue Mountain Vineyards and Cellars**
Follow our Cheese Mongers on Instagram:
Valley Shepherd: @curdiologist
Riehl Cheese and Deli: @riehlsdeli
Downtown Cheese: @downtowncheese
Fair Food Farmstand: @fairfoodfarmstand