8 Times A-Campers Made Cheese Plates and We Were Like, “Wow, Yes”

They say you haven’t truly lived until you’ve made cheese plates with 35+ other queers in the out-of-doors in beautiful Ojai, California, and while I think that’s a bold statement to make, it’s also a little true.

Riese and I hosted a Boxed Rosé and Cheese Plate workshop at A-Camp X a couple of weeks ago and I’m still not over how TRULY ALIVE it made me feel! (Read 5 Boxed Rosés, Ranked by Bang-for-Your-Buck by a Bunch of Inebriated Queers for the full experience.) I’m really quite serious about cheese plates, in that I don’t take them seriously at all and I think we should be living off of them about four times a week if possible. Perhaps you will recall my memoir, Let’s Make Cheese Boards and Never Leave the House Again. I’ll let that work speak for itself.

We provided all the cheese, fruits, spreads, crackers, and other accoutrement needed for cheese plating, and let the campers do with it what they would, to great results!

Here’s what they had to choose from!


Extra Sharp Cheddar
Smoked Gruyère
Fresh Mozzarella

Fresh Fruits Etc

Cherry Tomatoes


Deli Mustard
Raspberry Jam
Apricot Jam

Crackers and Salty Bits

Seeded Wheat Crackers
Flatbread Crackers
Gluten-Free Seeded Rice Crackers
Castelvetrano Olives
Roasted Almonds
Smoked Salmon


Dark Chocolate

I gave some pairing suggestions, but campers were encouraged to follow their hearts and to never let anyone tell them how to make a cheese plate, as that is my mantra (that and “I can’t reach this, please help me.”).  Plates and utensils were compostable bamboo, by the way, which maybe means nothing to you but what if it did? You’d be pretty impressed right now.

#rieseheresacheeseplate #autostraddlecamp

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Here Audrey has combined the raspberry jam with the chèvre, indicating that this isn’t their first time at the cheese plate rodeo.

Torre’s placement of almonds on the basil leaves shows an artistic flair that I respect.

The smoked gruyère is pointing to the chèvre, while the brie points to the chocolate. A beautiful puzzle.

Boxed rose and cheese plates at A-Camp! #rieseheresacheeseplate

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Absolutely no punches were pulled here: mustard directly on the cheddar, raspberry jam atop brie, tomatoes skewered with authority alongside basil and mozzarella. Who needs crackers when you have this kind of vision?

Aca-scuse me. This perfect line of olives satisfies a part of my soul I wasn’t aware even existed until this very moment.

Rosé and Cheese Plates! #autostraddle #acamp #rieseheresacheeseplate

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The pile of crackers in the center lets you know this means business, and the business is Eat More Cheese Plates.

Rachel, whose Instagram is private and therefore you’ll just have to take my word for it that her name is Rachel, has done some beautiful work with reds here, not to mention this expert fanning of the apple slices.

Nate, also with a private account, has kept this plate minimalistic but you can still feel the passion.

Tell me, what are your favorite cheese plate rules or feelings? Do you roll your own chèvre? Can I get your thoughts on pitted vs unpitted olives? Room temp brie vs warmed brie? Let me know.

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    now, to answer your questions:

    1. i love soft stinky cheeses, so when making solo cheese plates i often forgo a hard cheese entirely. when i am consuming cheese with others i work very hard to go against my own instincts because i know not everyone loves a soft stinky cheese (what’s wrong with all of you) but then i pick two hard cheeses and get upset so then i pick more soft cheeses and end up with like, 6 options. which is a lot. but like, have you met me? i’m a lot. like my cheese plate.

    2. my favorite power move is to add a LOT of extras. like, yeah, we’re here for the cheese, but did you want some sour dough cut into chunks? and maybe some raspeberries? why not add a homemade jam, why the fuck not? LET’S ADD SOME MEAT, OKAY. (i know, i know – not kosher. but neither is my at home kitchen!) we’re all adults here, trying to live our best goddamn lives. we do what we must.

    3. another power move is tiny vessels. i love all of these cheese plates and i think they’re perfect, but what i personally like to do at home is put all the separate goodies in tiny ceramic dishes and place them on top of the cheese plate. it does a thing to my heart. idk.

    4. i have never rolled my own chevre and i am deeply disappointed in myself right now.

    5. unpitted olives forever.


    7. i love you.

    • i forgot to mention in the comment above that i’m heavily allergic to dairy and eating cheese of any kind fucks up my stomach kind of a lot.

      but i still eat a cheese plate 1-5 times a month because listen, there’s a finite amount of time we all have on this planet and i am not gonna let a fucking dairy allergy stop me from eating the most perfect food ever created, OKAY?!

      (and yes, i’ve tried goat milk and sheep milk, i’ve tried lactaid, i’ve tried enzymes, i’ve tried hard cheeses, i’ve tried everything, the only thing that cures this issue is not eating cheese! so it is incurable because i will never stop eating cheese, much to my acupuncturist’s dismay! ok good talk!)

    • Tiny. Vessels.

      The feeling I get when I think of tiny vessels on a cheese plate is that same high I feel when walking into Crate & Barrel, home to SO MANY tiny vessels. Who needs Valium when you can have pepper jelly in the world’s smallest bowl???

  2. With the mention of Gruyère, I need to try my hand at making the Apple Gruyère pie from “Pushing Daisies”.

    • I hope an exchange of puns can go on at least Brie-fly; I’ll be so bleu and sheep-ish if not. Will I get your goat if I milk this for all it’s worth? I am cowed by these amazingly beautiful photos. How many puns can I make before y’all conclude I am crackers? If I run out of puns, I’ll really be in a jam. Or a pickle.

      I may be cheesy, but I am not board.

      There is a store called Cheese and Crackers not too far from me. They also have chocolate. It is a lovely place, but very dangerous. Pretty sure one day I will go in and never come back out.

  3. Aha, now I know what to put on my A-Clamp cutting board! These are beautiful and I am in awe.

  4. I’m gonna stick my neck out here because these pictures are giving me some strong cheese board feelings:

    – if you’re putting anything other than cheese on your cheese board (other than crackers obviously), no.1 accessory must ALWAYS be grapes.

    – a little disturbed to see some cheese boards here – I won’t name names – with no crackers?? all that chutney and soft cheese and nothing to carry it on! I’m gonna give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you had a whole cracker selection board beside because otherwise I am lost

    That being said I am very impressed by this workshop and my criticism may be coming from a place of jealousy that I was not able to participate… may have to instagram my own cheese board soon

  5. I should point out that when Laneia says “We provided all the cheese” she literally means ALL THE CHEESE. Like, each plate was a full-fledged mountain in a sierra of cheese. No person left without their cheese needs met.

    I am only on anti-social media, but I did take this super-blurry of my first plate, where I emphasised getting as much stuff on there as possible:

    Also, to the person above disturbed by lack of crackers, you really need to re-evaluate the value proposition of cheese vs crackers. What is wrong with the humble finger or knife as a cheese-to-mouth vehicle?

    • Don’t get me wrong, there should always be more cheese than crackers, cheese is the star of the show, but for me the crackers are a very necessary backing singer.

      I have been living in a foreign land for the last 2 years where crackers aren’t a thing and trust me when I say you do not want to have to deal with that

  6. a vision, a guiding force, a light in the darkness, a kind voice in the cold lonely hours of the morning, this post

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