Selecting and Serving Cheese
Shopping for cheese can be as much fun as serving it to guests.
First, some basics. Cheese is defined as a food product made from the pressed
curd of milk. Like wine, natural cheese is thought of as a living food because
of the friendly, living bacteria that are continually changing it.
The term natural is used to distinguish cheeses that will ripen over time from
processed cheeses, which will not.
If your market features a special cheese section, become familiar with the types
it offers. Larger cities may have special cheese shops; and many cheeses are
available through a wide range of mail-order sources.
Look for cheeses that are neatly sliced and wrapped, with appropriate signs of
aging and ripeness. Some cheeses may be highly aromatic, even pungent, but they
should not smell strongly of ammonia; that indicates that the cheese is well
past its prime. There should be no signs of drying or cracking, evidence the
cheese has not been handled properly.
Cheeses are relatively expensive, so once you purchase them, wrap them well and
refrigerate. Fresh soft cheeses can last under home-storage conditions for three
or four days. Semisoft, hard, and blue cheeses can last about two weeks.
Arrange the cheese and let come to room temperature about one to two hours
before you plan to serve it. This process, known as aromatization, brings out
the fullest flavor of the cheese. A cheese board is a traditional way to present
cheese. Line the board decoratively with clean nontoxic leaves.
Serving platters, mirrors or marble pieces are also effective ways to present
If you are serving cheeses in blocks, be sure to provide knives. Use small tongs
or forks for sliced cheeses.
Bread and crackers have a natural affinity with cheese. They can be subtly
flavored or they may add some kick of their own. Sourdough, country style or
peasant breads, rye, pumpernickel or crackers from strongly flavored grains such
as rye or whole wheat or those with added flavors, including seeds, spices,
peppercorns and cheese, can all be effective.
Add some fresh and dried fruits and nuts to the display, both for appearance and
the refreshing counterpoint they add to the cheese experience.
Select the accompaniments with the same care you did the cheese.
Source: Culinary Institute of America
Razzle Dazzle Recipes
Copyright ©2002 - 2012