- Caroline Potter
The Heart of Hospitality
Sharing a meal together is one of the most joyful and intimate of events throughout human history. Since the beginning of time, we have been coming together to feast and enjoy the bounties of our labor and the beauty of our harvest. Finger food is comfort food and creates an atmosphere of warmth and hospitality. Fall is such a beautiful season to entertain as the air cools and the leaves turn vibrant in color. Gathering around coffee tables, fireplaces or even fancy dinning room tables is a time to connect, laugh, fellowship and enjoy the many blessings we have.
Starting your social gathering or party with a cheese platter welcomes everyone into your home and allows people to nibble and chatter while the rest of the food is cooking. If you are simply having an appetizer or wine and cheese night, this platter offers a lovely spread to satisfy your guests tastes and appetites, without too much expense or difficulty on your part.
“The heart of hospitality is about creating space for someone to feel seen and heard and loved. It's about declaring your table a safe zone, a place of warmth and nourishment.” Shauna Niequist, Bread & Wine
As someone who eats grain and gluten free due to my heath, this quote from Bread and Wine really spoke to me. Creating an atmosphere so that people of all walks of life, people with allergies, or people with health conditions can feel welcomed and enjoy the food served is sometimes a difficult task. This harvest cheese platter offers something for everyone! I chose to serve with my homemade grain free crackers, made from almond flour, but I would also recommend grabbing some regular crackers or a fresh baguette so that everyone has something.
Choosing the Cheeses
Whenever I make a cheese platter, I like to serve a variety so that all the guest’s tastes are satisfied. Cheeses have endless flavors, textures, smells and colors! When selecting cheeses for a party, I typically choose cheese from different animals such as goat, sheep and cow’s milk cheeses. Many people have allergies or sensitivities to cow’s milk cheese so serving a soft goat chèvre or salty sheep’s manchego provides everyone an option. You can let your guests know what the different cheeses are or even create fun labels for them.
I decided to choose several cheeses that pair well with dates and pears to create a fall flavor. The salty, aged cheeses provide a savory contrast to the sweetness of the fruit. Arrange on a bed of peppery arugula leaves for the finishing touch!
A Fall Inspired Cheese Party
serves a party of 8-14
Prosciutto Wrapped Blistered Dates
12 medjool dates
6 slices prosciutto
12 slices manchego or parmesan cheese
pinch of fleur de sell
sprig of fresh rosemary, chopped
Grain Free Fall Cheese Platter
8 oz parmesan cheese
8 oz aged cheddar cheese
8 oz manchego cheese
12 slices prosciutto
1-2 pears, sliced
2 cups assortment of nuts (walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts)
few handfuls of arugula
Directions to make Prosciutto Wrapped Dates
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Slice prosciutto in half. Thinly slice cheese so that it will fit into the dates. Use a knife to make a slit in the dates, removing the pits. Stuff cheese in the middle of dates, then fold prosciutto and wrap around the dates. (Use the remaining cheese and prosciutto for the platter).
Place in a skillet or baking dish and bake for 10-12 minutes or until dates begin to blister.
When the dates come out of the oven, allow to cool for a few minutes before placing on serving dish. Arrange on a bed of arugula and sprinkle a dash of salt and pinch of fresh rosemary on top if desired.
Assembling the Cheese Platter
The day before or just an hour before the party, make the crackers. They last a few days so you can make them ahead of time.
While the dates are cooking, start assembling the cheese platter. It is best to bring the cheeses to room temperature, so remove from the fridge about 15-20 minutes before your guests begin to arrive.
Begin with a large platter—a circle, rectangle or square works great.
Place the nuts and kalamata olives in two small bowls.
Place a few handfuls of arugula or baby lettuces on the bottom of the platter.
Arrange the cheeses, crackers and prosciutto slices around the platter. Slice pears just before the guests arrive (so that they don't brown) and place on platter.
Have a few small spoons available for the olives and nuts and knives for the cheeses. Its best to have a knife for each cheese.
Serve and enjoy!
Caroline was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes while in college and lead her to develop a passion for nutrition, cooking and food photography. She lives in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii where her husband is stationed in the US Navy. They love to cook together and take their dog Liberty to the beach. She says a good day is when their house smells of melting butter, grilled steak and homemade chocolate chip cookies! You can find Caroline’s grain and refined sugar free blog at Colorful Eats, Instagram, and Facebook.