Some Suggestions for a Cheese Party

With the help of a trusted cheesemonger, select and offer an assortment of cheese types.

Keep the following recommendations in mind:

* Select three or four cheeses (quantity of each will depend on the number of guests and your menu); buy only as much as you and your guests are likely to consume.

* Remove cheese from refrigeration two to eight hours prior to serving; place cheese on counter, cover with clean dish-towel or cheese cloth and allow them to come up to room temperature.

* Choose a platter, chopping board or section of a marble countertop that is large enough to provide plenty of serving room between cheese.

* Place cheese in a specific arrangement - clockwise perhaps - on the board (atop decorative, parchment "cheese leaves" or grape leaves if available) and instruct your guests to taste in order, beginning with the mildest flavor and concluding with the strongest.

* Label cheeses to underscore the recommended tasting order and include such information as cheese type (fresh, soft, blue), its proper name (Beaufort, parmigiano reggiano, blue d' Basque), the country of origin and milk source (cow, goat, sheep). If you buy at Queen Anne Thriftway, request their "cheese business cards," a collection of preprinted cards that provide all of the above information, including flavor characteristics of the cheese as well as food and wine pairings.

* Set your cheese board in the center of the table. Provide proper serving utensils for each of the types of cheeses; be sure to have one for each cheese.

* Cut a slight edge out of one or two of the cheeses to invite further cuts by guests.

* Serve with precut, seasonal fruits in addition to warm bread or plain crackers and a wine appropriate to the selection (consult your wine merchant); quince paste from Spain and slices of dense fig cakes are newly popular additions to cheese boards.

* Although it is the universally acceptable way to serve cheese, a cheese board is nothing if not informal. In spite of tradition, not everyone enjoys the free-for-all. If you desire a more formal style of cheese service, consider cheese plates. Using the same guidelines for a board assemblage, place portioned slices (1-ounce is recommended if cheese is being served as an appetizer or after dinner) or chunks of each cheese on individual plates and serve as you would any course of a meal.

Cheese can be a wonderful appetizer, yet many gourmands feel it is the only way to end a meal, preferring it to desserts.

Source: Suzanne Schmalzer

 

 



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