Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Art Of Serving Cheese

Good cheese, wine, bread and friends; what more could you ask for!
I have served numerous cheese displays at my client’s events, people request it and I suggest it. I will give you some fantastic ideas on how to display cheese and what to serve. There are so many different cheeses out there in the world. A good cheese board could have up to 6 or so different cheeses. What kind of cheese do you ask? Well, I like to serve all kinds, the varieties that a lot of people may not have had a chance to try. I usually do not serve basic cheese like, Monterey Jack or Mild Cheddar and the like. Too many of us consume those kinds of cheeses on a regular basis, there is nothing wrong with domestic mild cheeses but you don’t have a chance to let ones taste buds travel around the world a bit.

Aspire for variety in taste, texture and appearance. A delicious selection might include a soft, mild cheese like triple cream Brie, a hard, mild, nutty cheese such as an Asiago, and semi-firm, sharp Stilton. You can also build your cheese selection around a theme. You could serve all goat cheeses: a Cabrales which is a semi-firm, blue cheese; a Montrachet which is a soft, fresh cheese; and a Gjetost which is a hard, whey cheese.
Select a country for your theme; for example, you could choose Spain and serve Manchego, a cured cheese from the region of La Mancha made from the milk of Manchega sheep. I love this cheese; it’s tangy, nutty and full-flavored. Sometimes this cheese is infused with rosemary. Cabrales, a Spanish blue cheese, a robust flavor produced by Astruian dairy farmers. Idiazabal with its smoky, rich tasted; it is the quintessential Sheppard’s cheese of the Basque country.

Appropriate Accompaniments: Accompany your cheese board with crackers and bread that don’t have very strong flavors that would compete with the flavor of the cheeses. Fresh fruit like, Apples, pears, grapes and figs go very well with cheese. I love to serve dried fruits and nuts with my cheeses, yum.

Serving Suggestions: I have used many different items to serve cheese on, whatever inspires me at the time, I guess. My favorite is a large piece of marble, you can also use various large pieces of dark slate, glass blocks, old wooden cutting boards with baskets of crackers, bread sticks and nuts. And one thing that I think is a must is labeling your cheese; this will keep the guesswork out of the way for your guests. I print cheese labels on my computer with address labels and stick them on bamboo skewers and then stick it in the cheese, no more guesswork and it’s so chic! You can even get small pieces of black slate and write the name of the cheese with chalk, or use place card holders with small cards with the names of the cheeses written on them.

Pairing Cheeses with Wine
Blue cheeses such as Stilton or Gorgonzola go well with dessert wines like Sauternes and Ports. To accompany fresh cheeses like a goat or feta, choose a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir. Soft-ripened cheeses like Teleme or Brillat-Savarin go well with Chardonnay. For aged cheeses like Cheddars, aged Gruyeres and Parmigiano-Reggiano serve Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel or Burgundy.

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