Emphasis should be placed on the word lucky. I never get to do stuff like that.
And unlucky you—I don’t have the recipe for those gorgeous things.

My sister lives in Western Massachusetts, and she’s been telling me about this unbelievable chocolate shop for years.  This weekend, while we were enjoying the Berkshires in all its fall splendor, we took the kids to Chocolate Springs which was worthy of every cry of praise I’ve heard.

After our trip to chocolate utopia, we stopped at Guido’s, the local gourmet shop, and bought what we needed to make a cheese platter.  You probably can’t tell at first glance, but some of the pears are only a little bigger than the grapes.  The two varieties are called Seckel and Forelle.
We took the platter to my sister’s friend’s house for a fall party.  The word party is a huge understatement, though.  How do you put into one word the epitome of a New England autumn celebration?  There was a huge inflated slide for the kids, a square dance in the barn, a fire ring with s’mores, old fashioned jars full of candy, and crates of freshly picked apples.  It was perfect.

While we were there, I saw a friend from college, and met Gabrielle Blair.  Most of you know her as DesignMom.

I’m not an expert on these things, but when I went in the cheese section, I had a rule in my head: one hard cheese, one soft cheese, and one bleu. You could also go with one sheep’s milk, one cow’s milk, and one goat’s milk.  (I was pressed for time, so went with the rule I could follow without someone’s help at the cheese counter.)

This was a casual party, so I stuck with basic cheeses that would be enjoyed by everyone, adults and kids.  I chose an aged cheddar, a mild bleu, and my favorite soft cheese: fromager d’Affinois, which is like a very soft and mild brie.  (My kids like to dip their pretzels in it.)

cheese platter

3 separate kinds of cheeses
assorted crackers or bread
seasonal fruits such as grapes or pears
1 variety of dried fruit, if desired
1 variety of nut (a handful), such as pecans or walnuts

1. Arrange on a large flat platter. Serve with three separate knives.