The holidays can be stressful enough without the thought of studying to be cheese monger for every party. Let the Mill City Farmers Market help you build the perfect cheese platter full of delicious local farmstead cheeses.
Pick a theme
Choose light cheeses like Singing Hills chèvre for appetizer-themed platters and full-flavored rich cheeses, like an aged cheese from Cosmic Wheel or Prairie Hollow, for dessert themed platter. Or select several different textures of sheep’s milk cheeses from Shepherd’s Way, or several different types of cheeses in the same family from different farms to compare.
Our choice: a variety of cheeses made from a combination of cow’s milk, goat’s milk and sheep’s milk to get the true Minnesota farmstead cheese experience.
Buy the right amount
If you are serving the cheese platter before the meal, plan on 1–2 ounces of each cheese per person. If you are serving the cheese after the main dinner course, you’ll want 1–1 1/2 ounces of each cheese per person. Choose between three and six cheeses to give your guests enough selection and conversation.
Don’t crowd the platter
Give each cheese enough room so guests don’t have to worry about poking a pinky in the Havarti. Consider separating pungent smelling cheeses from light, delicate ones so the scents do not combine.
Add some extras
While it is not necessary to serve bread with cheese, it is nice to give hungry guests some extras on the plate for pairing and visual contrast. Add something sweet to Prairie Hollow sharp cheddar cheese, like French Nugget chocolate or tart artisan pickles from Martha’s Joy or Kiss My Cabbage. For a fresh pop of color, add some fresh herbs, apples, jam or sliced radishes. A bread basket from one of Mill City Farmers Market’s bakeries or homemade crackers from Very Prairie are also a nice touch.
Serve cheese at room temperature
Take your cheeses out of the refrigerator about an hour before you plan to serve them. Cheeses are enjoyed at room temperature have the best fragrance and taste.
Talk to the farmers
The biggest and best advantage of buying local cheese at the Mill City Farmers Market is the ability to talk directly to the people who spend hours crafting your cheese from the animals they work with every day. Learn some colorful descriptions and unique traits about your cheeses so you can tell your guests why farmstead cheeses are so special.
Mill City Farmers Market Cheese Vendors:
- Prairie Hollow Farm, Elgin: fresh and aged cow’s milk cheeses
- Singing Hills Goat Dairy, Nerstrand: goat’s milk feta, chèvre, and curds
- Shepherd’s Way Farm, Nerstrand: fresh and aged sheep’s milk cheeses
- Cosmic Wheel Creamery, Clear Lake, Wis.: fresh and aged cow’s milk cheeses
You can shop from all of the Mill City Farmers Market’s cheese vendors at the indoor winter farmers markets located inside the Mill City Museum Saturdays November through April. Mill City Farmers Market’s remaining 2016 holiday markets are 10 a.m.–1 p.m Dec. 10 and 17.
Pick up local greenhouse and storage vegetables, pasture-raised meat and eggs, unique gifts and all your holiday groceries from local artisans at the Mill City Farmers Market winter markets. You can find more information and seasonal recipes at millcityfarmersmarket.org.
Further reading on cheese platters: