Thursday November 19, 2009
cheese...milk's gift to the Gods
Creating you Platter: Cheese platters can be served as a main course with your favorite wine, champagne or beer, or as a interlude between the main course and dessert. In creating a cheese platter think texture, color, aroma and taste. You can go with a themed approach such as French, Italian, or Spanish selections, or you can mix it up. It's best to select cheese varieties that are different in texture and taste to keep things interesting. Pair your cheese platter with fresh fruit, warmed nuts, dried berries, sweet jams, drizzled honey, and specialty breads such as Crostini, Panzanella flat bread, or my all time favorite, fresh baguette. You can also serve cheese with grilled vegetables, such as artichoke, asparagus, or peppers. And, a mixed green salad with a simple dressing such a good quality olive oil and a bit of fresh lemon juice, is always refreshing.
Cheese & Wine Pairings: There are many books and online resources for suggestions on cheese and wine pairings. Check out Gourmet Slueth where you can look up a specific cheese and review their wine, champagne and/or beer suggestions. Arisanal Cheese lets you type in the wine you are serving and they suggest the perfect cheese pairing.
Mix it Up. Below is a list of themed cheese platters with suggested pairings. Have fun experimenting with your creations. Some fascinating combination include: Fresh figs with Manchego or goat cheese. Apricots with Camembert. Floral honey drizzled over brie or goat cheese, and one of my all time favorites; Manchego with Membrillo or quince paste. .
Online Resources: And for those that do not have access to local cheese shops, I have provided links to online resources where you can purchase specialty cheese platters. I also found an online resource that offers a glossary of cheese terms.
French Cheese Platter
Gruyere de Comte, Boucheron, Roquefort, Fromage d'affinois. Camembert, Comte, Brie, and Brillat Saverin to name a few. Serve with sun-dried cranberries or cherries, pears, saucisson (naturally dried pork sausage), pâté de foie gras or country pate, cornichon, and french baguette. Click on the image below for more details on Dean & DeLuca's French cheese platter.
English Cheese Platter
Cotswald, Farm House Cheddar, Morangie Brie, Blue Shropshire, Lincolnshire Poacher, Winterdale Shaw, and English Blue Stilton. Serve with pears, dried cranberries, warm hazelnuts, English butter crackers, cornichons, and lavender honey.
Spanish Cheese Platter
Manchego, Drunken Goat, Valdeon, Campo de Montalban, Mahon, Nevat, Roncal and Mirableu. Nevat:Serve with quince paste (pairs perfectly with the manchego), figs, royal Medjool dates, Marcona Almonds, Jamon Serrano, and Catalan Olives. Dean & Deluca has a wonderful manchego cheese and quince paste platter.
American Cheese Platter
Smoked Gouda, Monterey Jack, Carmody, Buttermilk Blue, and Cheddar. Pair your platter with grapes, sliced apples or pears, walnuts, and sliced sausage, smoked ham, or Proscuitto. Dean and DeLuca offers An American cheese platter.
Italian Cheese Platter
Taleggio, Fresh Mozzarella di Buffala, Grana Pardano, Sharp Provolone, Asagio, fresh Parmigianno-Regianno, Gorgonzola. Pair well with olives, Proscuitto de Parma, caramelized pecans, roasted red pepper, sun-dried tomatoes and pignoli notes. Dean & DeLuca's Italian Cheese Plate can be purchased online.