Sunday, December 11, 2011

Entertaining Tips | Individual Cheese Plates

Do you ever channel your inner Martha? Do you get excited about planning your next entertaining extravaganza, whether it is an intimate dinner for four or a cocktail party for fifty? Do you thrive on creativity and perfection? If you answered YES to any of the questions above, then you are probably an entertaining guru or at a minimum someone who loves a reason to bring people together.

I happen to be one of those people. Any reason to entertain makes me smile from ear to ear. The idea of preparing a get together to make people happy brings me much joy. It is an opportunity for me to try a new recipe, decorate with a new idea and let my creative inner Martha out. I am very excited to bring a new feature to my blog, titled – “Entertaining Tips”. This feature will highlight ideas for easy, unique and fun suggestions to make your next party or get together special.

{ Idea: share your sketch with your guests during the cheese course, so they could refer to it while enjoying the different cheeses and combinations of flavors } 
Last evening, my hubby invited a new co-worker and his wife over for wine and appetizers. They have recently relocated to the Bay Area and we thought it would be a wonderful idea to welcome them by inviting them over to celebrate the holidays. One of my favorite ways to entertain is to serve wine and appetizers. Last evening a served several course of small plates that we enjoyed while sitting by the fire in the family room with holiday music playing softly in the background.

Instead of serving the traditional cheese platter, I opted to create individual cheese plates for each person. This gave everyone the option to taste everything at their own pace along with having the suggested pairings available at one quick glance. I had stopped by whole foods in the morning to the cheese department. I adore the selection of cheeses and it an adventure each time with a new selection in my shopping basket to try.

For our intimate wine and appetizer party last night, I selected a Manchego cheese from the La Mancha region of Spain from the milk of sheet of the Manchega breed, which is typically aged for between 60 days and two years. A classic pairing is to add a touch of quince paste and marcona almonds. The next cheese going clockwise on the plate was the Cave Aged Gruyere with my Balsamic Fig Jam along with a dried apricot. The Gruyere is aged for about one year in secluded caves in Switzerland. It has a dense texture with a nutty, richness to the flavor profile. The fig jam compliments the richness of the cheese for a perfect pairing.

My third selection for the cheese plate was a French blue cheese, Blue Fourme d’ambert with a drizzle of clover honey. The sweet honey perfectly compliments the salty and earthy blue cheese. The French blue cheese is one of France’s oldest cheeses and is made from cow’s milk and is inoculated with penicillium roqueforti spores and aged for at least 28 days. If you love blue cheese, this is the king of them all. Our last tasting was one of my favorites that I buy from whole foods each time I visit. It is an Reserved Dutch Gouda, an orange cheese made from cow’s milk and originates from the Netherlands. It is had a slight earthiness with a hint of smoky, cedar flavor that pair beautifully with a cabernet sauvignon. I added a nib of panforte, which is a traditional Italian dessert containing fruits and nuts.

Creating your own individual cheese plates gives you the opportunity to learn about new cheeses, create themes and share something unique with your friends. A few suggestions:
  • Different Types - select one cheese from each milk family – cow, sheep and goat.
  • Around the World – select a cheese from France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands – the possibilities are endless
  • Go Local – select cheeses made local to where you live
  • Vertical Tasting – select all one type of cheese but vary where it is from – for example – do a blue cheese tasting
To learn more about cheeses, ask questions when you go to the cheese counter. Ask to try samples and pick what you like. Invest in a few cheese specific books to expand your knowledge. Laura Werlin’s Cheese Essentials is a perfect selection. She is a cheese expert who explains this fascinating world of cheese in a manner that anyone can understand.

1 comment:

It simply makes me smile when I receive a new comment and I look forward to hearing from you!