Everyone has that one food they crave when they are away from home. For most it may be a dish from their favorite restaurant, a hometown specialty, or something only your mom can make.
For me, that food has always been (and I imagine always will be) a cheese plate. Crafting a cheese plate is a skill my mom has perfected and is now attempting to ingrain in me. While there’s nothing I love more than a good, salty Shropshire, or a creamy and funky epoisse, fancy cheeses don’t fly on my broke-college-kid budget.
So, I have made it my duty to educate my fellow college-aged cheese lovers on exactly how to make the perfect cheese plate for under $20… using only the Trader Joes cheese case. I’ve included a basic and a more advanced cheese plate to appeal to the various degrees of cheese lovers.
Beginner Option: Traditional French Brie ($5.84)
This simple, creamy brie brings a delicate richness to the board. Its buttery, nutty flavor is mild enough to appease any cheese lover wary of the stinky stuff.
Advanced Option: Camembert ($4.23)
Camembert is a soft ripened cheese that has a stronger, earthier flavor than its traditional counterpart. Its longer aging process brings about a more intense, almost mushroomy taste that will transfix any cheese lover.
Beginner Option: 1,000 Day Aged Gouda ($5.04)
Aged gouda has a saltier, nuttier flavor than the soft sandwich cheese you may be used to. Its firm texture makes it perfect for nibbling, adding some variety in both flavor and firmness to the board.
Advanced Option: Italian Truffle Cheese ($5.76)
This semi-hard cheese has a firm, creamy texture permeated with the flavor of black truffles. The truffle flavor perfectly compliments the fontina-like cheese, which is both creamy and nutty.
Beginner Option: Fresh Chèvre ($3.99)
TJ’s tangy chèvre is the perfect soft cheese for your plate. Its simple, clean flavor goes perfectly topped with honey or fruit preserves.
Advanced Option: Silver Goat Chèvre ($4.99)
The Silver Goat Chèvre has a similar but richer flavor than the Fresh Chèvre. It has a slightly firmer texture due to the extended aging period, but it still retains the clean, tangy flavor that we all know and love.
Beginner Option: Castello Blue Cheese ($4.60)
This Castello blue has a crumbly texture and less intense flavors than one might expect from a blue. Its salty, earthy taste is more than enough to convert even those more fearful of the daunting moldy cheese.
Advanced Option: Cambozola Blue Triple Cream Cheese ($4.80)
Cambozola has a creamier, almost brie-like texture that makes the already delicious cheese even more enjoyable to eat. The earthy flavor is brought out perfectly when smeared on a warm slice of baguette.
TJ’s Basic Cheese Plate ($19.47)
TJ’s Advanced Cheese Plate ($19.78)
Finally, if there is one #majorkey to making the perfect cheese plate, it is this: heat the bread. Not only is warm bread better in general, but the heat brings out the flavors in the cheese and softens it for the perfect, rich, creamy bite. And just like that, you have become a master of cheese arts. Go forth and spread your knowledge (or just sit and eat these cheese plates).