Beautifully arranged cold cuts and cheese on a platter can be a centerpiece of your buffet style entertainment. With a little addition of fruits and vegetables those platters are easily adaptable to any seasonal celebration. Let's look at some basic rules of arranging cold cuts and cheeses.
~ Choose wisely. ~
When choosing your meats and cheeses, it is very important to make sure that everything on your platter will go together and nothing will overpower the rest of it. The best and easiest way to achieve that goal is to choose the meats and cheeses from the same part of the world. For example, Italian cured meats will be beautifully complimented by strong aged Parmesan or Asiago cheeses, but soft and mild taste of Camembert will be totally destroyed by the same meats.
~ How much is enough? ~
Size of your party and the rest of your menu will determine amount of meats and cheese you will need. If your platter is a main course of your meal accompanied with breads, crackers and fresh crudits (vegetables), than you will need about 3 to 5 pieces of meat per person and the same amount of cheese slices. You can choose up to 8 different meats (hams, dry salami, proscuitto, smoked turkey, etc) and up to 4-5 cheeses.
~ Arrangement. ~
The first rule of any food presentation is to make it appealing to the eyes of your guests. Arrange you meats on one half of the plate, and your cheeses on the other. Place meats cuts around the platter overlapping each other. Cut you hard cheeses in cubes or slices and arrange them on the other half of the platter. Remember that soft cheeses (Camembert, Brie and such) are never cut in advance - they are served as a whole piece with a little serving knife and your guests are supposed to serve themselves.
Be sure to enhance the platter with colors by adding fruits (apples, pears, grapes) and vegetables (little tomatoes, slices of bell peppers). It is very festive to serve cold cuts on bed of lettuce with some fresh herbs. According to the season, you can experiment with seasonal and colorful fruits and vegetables to emphasize the color scheme of the occasion.
With your platter of cold cuts and cheese you can serve crackers and breads, preferably from the same region of the world. The same goes towards wines if you choose to serve them. Beer usually is not served with cold cuts and cheese.