There is nothing I love more than a cheese plate at a party, so I figured- what better way to ring in my favorite season than with a fall-inspired cheese plate? Usually when I come up with ideas like this I start off thinking it's going to be so easy and then end up at no fewer than 5 different markets, realizing that half the things I want actually don't exist or are too expensive to justify- but this cheese plate was the exact opposite! I thought I was going to be on an endless hunt for autumnal accouterments and cheeses that would cost me more than a fancy night out, but at my first stop at Trader Joe's I realized this was a piece of cake (or slice of cheese!) I could have easily added even more to the platter, but I had to fit it all on one plate. While the cheeses are of course the stars of a cheese plate, the accouterments are really the show-stoppers and add the autumnal feel.
For the savory accompaniments, the pumpkin cranberry crisps and pecan raisin rosemary crisps replaced my normal crackers and rustic bread accents, and the salted pepitas (or pumpkin seeds) replaced the Marcona almonds that I usually serve. I had leftover rosemary crisps at home, but Trader Joe's also has a version of them as well. There weren't a ton of meat options at TJs, so I bought Creminelli wild boar salami at my local cheese shop, Stinky, it's gamy and robust which adds to the strong flavors of fall.
For the sweet accents I added sliced pears, truffle honey, a fig and black tea compote. The crispness of the pears added a freshness the platter needed, while the honey and the preserves added sweetness to balance the more pungent and stronger flavors of the plate. Truffle honey is something I always have on hand, whether homemade or store-bought. It adds a more balanced, earthy sweetness and pairs extremely well with the Parmigiano Reggiano. It also goes great drizzled on top of a soft cheese on crackers. The Fig and Black tea compote came from my local cheese shop, but you could buy it online here or go with a Trader Joe's version of fig butter. The full-bodied jam goes perfectly with the soft cheeses and surprisingly well with cured meats. (I am also really excited to make a grilled cheese for lunch with the compote this weekend!)
Finally, after all my autumnal accents were complete, it was time to add the cheese. All the cheeses came from Trader Joe's, except for one, so they were very affordable and easy to get.
Clockwise starting in the center:
- Parmigiano Reggiano - a sweet and salty hard cheese that is great on its own or goes perfectly on a cracker with pear and honey.
- Triple Cream Brie with Wild Mushrooms - the mushrooms added a welcomed earthiness to this creamy cheese
- Toscano Cheese with Black Pepper - the pepper added spice that is usually too harsh for spring and summer plates, but added a nice depth to this fall plate.
- Italian Truffle Cheese - another hint of truffle found in this semi-soft cheese. It pairs great with the fig compote.
- The last cheese on the top left was another cheese from Stinky, a Manchengo-style Gran Queso that was rubbed in Cinnamon and Paprika, but Trader Joe's had a cinnamon-dusted cheese as well that would have worked just as well.
I also had a creamy, rich goat cheese that never made it on to the plate that also paired deliciously with the compote and was something I thought the plate was missing! A blue would have been a nice addition as well.
I suggest inviting a few friends over and serving this cheese plate with some seasonal ales to celebrate the fall season!
(As much as it may seem, this post was not sponsored by Trader Joe's! But I was truly amazed how easy and cheap it was to build this fall cheese plate from there!)
(all photos, Jamie Grill Photography)