The Perfect Cheese Plate


This is the third post of a series developed by Casetta Kitchen. Casetta Kitchen is a Madison, WI based counter style Italian American deli and is owned by Elizabeth's brother, Tommy Gering, and childhood best friend, James Juedes. Many of the recipes used in their deli have been created around the family table in their cabin in northern Wisconsin; Casetta meaning "little house" is their ode to the Northwoods.


What you need for a perfect cheese plate

+ Serving board or tray, we like either a wooden board or a slate board (but a plate works just fine!). We like this board and this board for their unique shape, colors, + textures.
+ Serving knife – either a cheese knife or a butter knife. This is our favorite.
+ Cheese – we love to buy local, but use whatever you're in the mood for.
+ Fresh or dried fruit – like Bing cherries, freshly picked blackberries, or dried apricots. 
+ A nut or something crunchy - either salted or candied. We prefer pistachios, almonds, or pecans.
+ Crackers - either rice, whole wheat or soft baguette
+ A jam or marmalade, whatever is in season is best – a whole grain mustard would also pair nicely



A Mid-Summer Cheese Plate 

Casetta Suggested Wine Pairing – Lambrusco from Emilia-Romagna



Young, unsmoked gouda. 
We suggest our current favorite Marieke Gouda from Holland’s Family Cheese, their signature cheese – a cow milk gouda; young, tangy, and mellow. The best part, their goudas come in 13 different flavors, but we recommend sticking with plain on your first try and go from there.

Sharp, aged cheddar.
We suggest our current favorite – Hook’s 10 year aged cheddar cheese from Hook’s Cheese, Mineral Point, WI. A smooth + buttery pasteurized cow milk cheese, with a beautiful finish from crunchy calcium crystals. The 5 year aged cheddar + the 12 year aged cheddar are delicious, but the 10 year aged is our personal favorite.

Young gruyere.
We suggest our current favorite – Pleasant Ridge Reserve from Uplands Cheese Company, WI (this one might be our favorite of all time!). An alpine style, semi-firm raw cow milk cheese that is creamy, grassy, and nutty. Pleasant Ridge Reserve is really special because they make this cheese from May through October when cows graze on fresh pasture and is America’s most awarded cheese!


the Fixings

+ Bing cherries or blackberries
+ Salted + roasted pistachios, either in the shell or shelled
+ Your favorite cracker. We suggest ak-mak sesame crackers right now (Northerly note: you can find these crackers at Trig’s Village Market by the Gluten Free bread in the bakery section). 
+ Fresh raspberry jam, see recipe below


Raspberry jam recipe

(Depending on what's in season – use strawberries, blackberries, or blueberries.) 

2 lb raspberries
1.3 lbs sugar
2 lemons, sliced in half
a pinch of salt

Mush up berries with your hands or with a fork, place into a saucepan with sugar, the lemons
Bring to a boil and let it simmer until it reaches 210 degrees, or put a dollop on a plate to test to see if it is ready.
Place in a container, cool and refrigerate until ready to serve.


Cheese Plate Assembly

1. Slice each of the cheeses into long, thin wedges and fan out on different sections of the board.
2. Put the jam in a ramekin or small bowl and place on the board.
3. Lay some pistachios between the cheeses.
4. Fill in the blank spaces with crackers.
5. Add any fresh fruit, such as Bing cherries or blackberries.
6. Serve with a knife, and enjoy!


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