All about cheese: Perfect plates and pairings
Fruit and nut
Serve richer, more aged cheeses with Seasonal fruits like figs, pomegranates, grapes, pears and persimmons to add a bright and flavourful juiciness.
1 Aged goat’s milk cheese, such as Garrotxa.
2 Washed-rind cow’s milk cheese, such as Red Hawk or Saint-Nectaire.
3 Triple-cream cheese, such as La Tur or Brillat-Savarin.
4 Pomegranate, pulled apart into pieces.
5 Fresh figs.
6 Toasted pecans or hazelnuts.
Pair with Fontalpino Chianti Classico, Italy.
Pairing beer and cheese can yield a sharp and tangy marriage. Pungent, washed-rind cow’s milk cheeses, such as Fontina, aged Gouda or Appenzeller, are a terrific choice, as are mild blues and any style of Cheddar. Nuts, pickles and dried fruits enhance the hops in beer.
1 Mild blue-veined cheese, such as Stilton.
3 Aged Gouda, such as Saenkanter or UnieKaas.
4 Aged goat’s milk cheese, such as Crottin de Chavignol.
6 Dried fruits, such as persimmons, apricots and pears.
Pair with Lake of Bays India Pale Ale, Ontario.
Light and herby
A selection of flavourful cheeses, a big green salad and a crisp white wine make a light and easy meal. pair an aromatic cheese like an Alsatian Muenster with a nuttier hard type. For a Provençal touch, drizzle goat cheese with a fruity olive oil and then top with fresh herbs.
1 Washed-rind cheese, such as Muenster or Taleggio.
2 Hard sheep’s milk cheese, such as pecorino.
3 Extra-virgin olive oil.
4 Fresh goat’s milk cheese.
5 Fresh rosemary sprigs.
6 Apples, peaches or apricots, thinly sliced.
7 Blue cheese, such as Cabrales.
8 Walnuts or Marcona almonds.
Pair with Fetzer Gewürztraminer, California.
Cheese cheat sheet
Whether you're serving a cheese plater before a sit down dinner or hosting a wine and cheese party, following this helpful cheat sheet will assit you in creating the perfect platter.
You can serve one carefully chosen cheese and let its extraordinary qualities shine. But, in general, an assortment of three cheeses offers variety without overwhelming guests. When making your selections, diversity can be created in different ways: cheese age or type (one bloomy rind, one semi-firm, one blue), milk type (one cow’s milk, one goat’s milk, one sheep’s milk), country of origin (one French, one Spanish, one English) or even locale (three from California). Ultimately, you’ll want a range of flavours and textures, from creamy and buttery to crumbly and salty, and a mix of shapes and colours. Choose accompaniments to match the cheese, season and occasion, keeping flavour and texture in mind.
Purchasing and storing
Cheeses are best freshly cut, so avoid prew rapped pieces when possible. Storing cheese is always a balancing act: cheese must “breathe” or release moisture, but it also needs to stay moist and not dry out. Whenever possible, buy cheeses on the day of serving and keep the wedges at cool room temperature on a board or under a glass dome. When refrigerating, plastic wrap is the common, though imperfect, solution. The cheese won’t breathe, but it also won’t dry out. Use waxed paper for wrapping fresh and soft-ripened cheeses, which need to breathe the most in order to ripen properly.
A large platter, marble slab or wooden board can accommodate three or four cheeses. Allow ample room for easy cutting. For a more formal presentation, you can pass individual cheese boards among guests. Give each cheese its own knife, so flavours don’t mingle. Rounded knives are best for spreading luscious, creamy cheeses and sharp knives are ideal for cutting hard, aged cheeses. A cheese knife with tines is perfect for transferring slices to plates.
Arrange cheeses so that they are easy to cut, such as laying a wedge on its side. Consider making the first cut yourself, as a guide, slicing so that each piece will have a bit of rind. This helps avoid an empty chunk of rind at the end of serving. Always let cheese come to room temperature before eating it. This may take up to a couple of hours.
Whether served as a savoury tidbit to start or finish a meal or as the star of a casual gathering, cheese is always a versatile offering. Serve it on its own or with accompaniments – spreads, such as chutneys, jams or tapenades; sweet elements like honeycomb or fresh, dried or candied fruits; or salty bites, such as olives or nuts and a crusty baguette.
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Excerpted from by Georgeanne Brennan. Recipes Copyright © 2013 Georgeanne Brennan, Photography copyright © 2013 Georgeanne Brennan. Excerpted by permission of Weldon Owen. All rights reserved.