Food from the Hart

Posts Tagged ‘cheese’

How to Compose the Perfect Cheese Board

In Features on March 23, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Cheese is easy to use in a number of different ways when entertaining.  One way, as mentioned in a pervious post, is to host an entire evening around tasting Cheese and Wine.  Cheese also makes a great appetizer, hors d’oeuvre and dessert.  For more formal dinners you could even provide guests with a fully composed cheese course.  No matter how you plan to integrate cheese into your party here are some guidelines to plating cheese and all its accoutrements in the most visually pleasing way.

Wood Works

Wood cheese boards tend to be the most attractive and give cheese a very fresh and rustic feel.  If you don’t have one, a wooden cutting board works really well too. Whatever plate or tray you use, make sure you leave enough space to easily cut the cheese but not too much that the tray looks empty.

 

Variety

Make sure each to have a hard, soft and semi-soft, or a mix like that on your board.  Serve soft and semi-soft whole, but cut or break hard cheese into more manageable, bite-sized pieces. It’s nice to leave the rind of the hard cheese intact and serve on the board with the pieces.  It can also be fun to label each cheese.  Several stores sell erasable signs you can stick in each cheese.  My favorite set is from Target, $9.99 for 4.

Garnish

Cheese is meant to be eaten with a variety of things like dried fruit, meat and nuts.  Scatter some almonds or spices nuts around the board and clusters of grapes, figs or apricots in between the cheeses.  Intersperse proscuitto, speck, ham or salami around the fruit and cheese.  The colors together make for an attractive and edible display.

Chutney and Honey

Things like quince paste, chutney, honey and olives make great compliments to cheese.  These can get a little messy so serve in small bowls along side the cheese board.  Make sure you encourage your guests to try the various combinations.

Bread and Crackers

There’s no better mate for cheese than bread, thus making bread and crackers a very important part of any cheese display.  I like to serve a mix of both in a basket lined with either a napkin or towel.  This is a great place to be adventurous, try more exotic breads with nuts and fruit in addition to the classic baguette.

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Wine and Cheese Party

In Celebrations on March 10, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Throwing a wine and cheese party is fun, casual and doesn’t require much space.  It’s a great way to get a group of friends together without all the fuss of a classic cocktail party.  Here are a few easy tips to get you started:

  • When you invite guests ask them each to bring a wine and cheese pairing (see the chart below for pairing suggestions).  Ask that they let you know what they’re bringing so several people don’t come with the same thing.  It’ll be more fun if you have a variety of cheese and wine with different textures and from different regions.
  • Before the party stock up on crackers, baguettes, and fruit like apples, pears, figs, grapes, melon.  The fruit will bring out the flavor of the cheese and wine and add an extra element for tasting.  You might also consider purchasing a selection of smoked meats like prosciutto, salami, speck and bresola to serve along with the cheese.
  • Have wine glasses, cocktail napkins, hors d’oeuvre plates and large platters on hand.  When guests arrive, plate their cheese selections along with fruit and meat. Use index cards or place cards to label each cheese and wine pairing.
  • If space permits, scatter the platters of cheese and wine pairings around the room.  This way guests won’t gather in one spot.  It will make mingling and tasting easier and more fun.
  • Even though this is a casual shindig don’t forget the ambience.  Dim lights, light candles, and make sure you have some soft music in the background to set the scene.

Cheese

Country Wine Type Fruit
Bel Paese Italy Chardonnay Semi-soft
Blue Varied Strong, Red Hard Apple, Grape, Pear
Brie France Champagne, Merlot Soft Plum, Apple, Pears
Camembert France Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir Soft Plum, Berries, Apple
Cheddar England Cabernet Sauvignon, Rioja, Chardonnay Hard Melon, Peach, Apple
Colby U.S. Riesling, Champagne, Cava Hard Apple, Peach
Edam Holland Riesling, Champagne, Pinot Noir Hard Apple, Grape, Pear
Emmentaler Switzerland Beaujolais Hard Pear
Gouda Holland Riesling, Champagne Semi-Hard Apple, Grape, Pear
Goat Cheese France / Varied Sancerre Soft Apple, Fig, Pear
Feta Greece Pinot Grigio, Sancerre, Beaujolais Soft Apple, Pear, Peach, Fig
Gorgonzola Italy Champagne, Cava, Prosecco Soft Pear
Grana  Padano Italy Barolo, Barbaresco, Hard Apple, Pear, Fig
Manchego Spain Rioja, Merlot Hard Pear, Melon
Mozzarella (Fresh) Italy Pinot Blanc, Light Reds Soft Melon, Peach, Nectarine
Muenster France Zinfandel Soft Melon
Parmesan -Reggiano Italy Chardonnay Hard Fig, Grape, Apple, Honey
Pecorino Italy Chianti Riserva Hard Fig, Grape, Apple, Honey
Swiss U.S. Riesling, Gewurztraminer Hard Apple, Grape, Pear
St. Andre Franch Fruity Rose Soft Apple
Port Salut Denmark / France Chardonnay Semi-soft Melon
Roquefort France Tawny Port Semi-hard Apple, Pear
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