Do you want to impress your family and friends with an amazing cheese tray?
We're going to show you 5 ways you can look like a real cheese connoisseur and impress the heck out of your guests at your next dinner party!
1. BUY CHEESE FROM A TRUSTWORTHY SOURCE
This seems like an obvious detail, but since the cheese plate will ultimately be judged by the quality of cheese you serve, we needed to make this a focal point.
Buy your cheese from a reputable, knowledgeable cheese shop, whether it be online or in your neighborhood. Yes, you might spend a little more but at least you know what you're getting.
Good cheese shops will usually have a seasoned cheese monger who can recommend you cheeses with just a few questions. Once they get an idea of what you want, you'll be on your way to eating artisan made/small production cheese.
Buying from a cheese shop is important because you're not only getting delicious cheese, but you're supporting small business and most importantly, the farmers. You can sometimes find a decent cheese in the supermarket, but it's hit and miss and the prices aren't much cheaper anyways, if at all.
The cheeses included in our Monthly Cheese Club, Cheese Samplers and our New Custom Curated Gourmet Boxes are all high quality artisan cheeses and our cheese experts are always on the hunt for new gems to add to our collection. We purchase cheeses from local Canadian cheese makers and also farmhouses from all over the world.
2. HAVE A GOOD VARIETY OF FLAVOURS, TEXTURES AND TYPES
When putting together a cheese plate, you want to have a few different families of cheese, at different strength levels that all flow together and help each other create a balance.
So for example, if we were serving 5 cheeses, you wouldn't want to have 4 blue cheeses and 1 mild brie. First of all, the brie would get completely over powered and second, unless you have major blue cheese lovers, it's just too much blue. So here's a list of what we consider varieties of cheese categories:
- Soft brie/triple creme - e.g. Chateau De Bourgogne, Brillat Savarin, Riopelle de L'isle from Quebec and more.
- Hard aged Dry Cheese - e.g. Beemster XO, Aged Mimolette, Piave, Pecorino Toscano from Italy and more.
- Soft Goat Cheese- e.g. David Wood's Ruckles from BC, Chevrot from France, Valancay and more
- Firm Cheese - Cave Aged Gruyere, Comte Aged, 10 year old cheddar and more.
- Sheep Milk Cheese- e.g. Ossau Iraty, Manchego, Landana Sheep and more.
- Hard Goat Milk- e.g. Chevre Noir, Queso De Cabra Romero, Murcia Al Vino and more.
- Blue Cheese- e.g. Roquefort, Stilton from England, Ciel de Charlevoix, Cabralez from Spain and more.
- Soft & Strong/smelly e.g. Eppoisses, Munster from Alsace, Langres from France and more.
Pick one or two from each of these categories and you will have a perfect variety. Depending on how many people you are serving, you can make a platter with 3- 7 different cheeses.
3. HOW TO CUT AND SERVE THE CHEESE
Should I cut the cheese up or leave as a wedge? That is the question.
The answer lies in the type of party and crowd you're hosting. In a more intimate setting and with close friends, we leave the cheeses as wedges. For bigger crowds, we do the "40 % Manouver" (gotta trademark that one). This is where you cut up about 40% of the wedge and leave the rest as is for presentation. This also reduces wastage of perfectly good expensive cheese. The leftover wedge remains in tact and can be served again. The worst thing is having little bits of cut up pieces left over after your party, usually oily, dried up and no longer pleasant to look at.
Also, have the right tools, we love our Boska Cheese Slicer (Buy One Here) and we always put a few out beside the platter so guests can shave themselves thin slices. Invest in a good one if you're going to offer these, the cheap ones don't work.
4. THE SECRET CHEESE WEAPON - CONDIMENTS!
You have your cheeses, the bread or crackers to serve them on and then you need something interesting to bring it all together (besides wine, of course; we'll get to that). You have a ton of options, from fresh fruits to nuts to jams, jellies and honey. Here is a list of some of our favourite cheese condiments to serve:
Dalmatian Fig Jam - Amazing with brie, blue, goat cheese and even many hard cheeses. Must try!
Honey - Attiki Greek Honey or any unpasteurized honey you love will work with all types of cheeses.
Mrs Bridges Chutney for Cheese, Chilli Jam and Morrelo Cherry Jam are 3 delicious and unique condiments for cheese that we love. If you love sweet and savoury, the chutney is a great option. the Chilli Jam has a spicy bite but works great with creamy brie or even sharp cheddar. The cherry jam is perfect for sheep milk cheese and blue cheeses. (Buy Them Here)
Fresh Fruits - Everyone knows apples, pears and grapes work well with cheese, but it's been done a million times. Nothing against it and it works super well. However, you should try something a little different. Is there a seasonal fruit that's perfectly ripe right now? Serve it!
Figs, seasonal berries, quince, etc. Don't be afraid to try something different.
5. PAIR YOUR CHEESE WITH GOOD WINE
The rule of thumb for wine and cheese pairing is usually:
Milder cheeses = White wines
Stronger cheeses = Red wines
However, there's obviously much more depth to this topic. The best way to learn and find great pairings is to try them. What we recommend is heading over to the liquor store and finding the most knowledgeable person you can find and ask questions. Often times, you'll catch someone that is very good with pairings and they will make a great recommendation. It could be a little intimidating but it's important to remember there is no right or wrong pairing. So ask them some questions like:
- Do you think this wine will overpower a milder cheese like brie? Everyone's had brie, so even if they aren't cheese experts, they will know whether the wine is too strong for a mild brie.
- Does this wine have any sweetness? If yes, stronger flavoured cheeses like blue work well with sweeter wines.
What's your favourite wine in the $xx range? This is something we always ask. This doesn't guarantee the wine will always be amazing, but we've found some real gems this way.
Wine tasting and pairing takes experience, so keep trying and learning!
And that's 5 ways you can really impress your friends with your cheese knowledge!
Join our Cheese of the Month Club and get 3 New cheeses Monthly - ** Great way to try all types of gourmet cheeses - all year round!
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