Best swoon-worthy #cheesegoals platter

The Cellar Door

Cellar Door cheesemonger Julie Cassotta makes your artisanal dairy dreams come true.

Cellar Door cheesemonger Julie Cassotta makes your artisanal dairy dreams come true.

Photo by Stephanie Stiavetti

With more than 30 cheesemakers located within a three-hour drive of Sacramento, artisan cheese is a key part of Northern California's culinary culture. Yet it's not often one finds cheese plates that transcend snack-status to verge on fine art.

Cheesemonger Julie Cassotta is changing that.

When Cassotta returned to Sacramento after running a Los Angeles-based cheese shop, along with stints at Block Butcher Bar and Whole Foods Market, she found exactly zero local shops that focused solely on cheese.

What’s a woman with dairy dreams to do?

She combined her passion with her artistic background to create Cellar Door, where she designs gorgeously curated cheese platters.

Each of Cassotta’s creations begin with a foundational element: the platter upon which the cheese will sit. A former woodworker, she devotes a great deal of time to shopping for unique plateware in thrift stores, which the client gets to keep. Cassotta then begins composing layers of cheese, meat, nuts, fruits, vegetables and anything else that might heighten guests’ gustatory experience.

Her primary goal? To surprise and delight.

“I play with color and height so my platters look vibrant and bountiful from every angle,” Cassotta said. “Every time someone picks up a piece, I want them to uncover another layer. Like, ‘Oh! There are almonds under here!'”

Cassotta, who delivers in Sacramento and Placer counties, creates platters of all sizes from minis for small gatherings to entire curated tables, where she fills a huge surface with a dizzying array of colorful foods. She also creates multilayered “cakes,” stacked cheese wheels decorated with fresh flowers to resemble wedding cakes.

Besides being swept away by the beauty of her platters, customers also feel Cassotta’s infectious passion for cheese, with many following her adventures on Instagram.

“The more I learn about it, the more I love it,” she said. “There’s always something new to explore, a thousand kinds I’ve never tried."