Around the holidays, there’s always a flurry of emails from friends and readers about what cheeses to serve and how to arrange them. Here’s the hot scoop on selecting and serving.
Pick a theme.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed at the cheese counter this time of year. That’s why I like to arrive with a theme in mind. This year, I went for a mushroom cheese board, just for something different. Last year, I divined a Monastic Cheese Plate. You could also go by country (French, Italian, or Spain) or pick American all-stars. When in doubt, choose a variety of milks – cow, sheep, goat, and if you can find it: water buffalo.
Let your cheese relax.
Make like the picture above and set out your cheeses before guests arrive. Cheese is always best served at room temperature. Cover your cheeses with some damp cheese cloth or a damp kitchen towel so that they don’t dry out.
Baguettes, baguettes, baguettes.
If you spend a pretty penny on gorgeous cheese, for heaven’s sake don’t put out sad crackers. A slice of plain baguette is the best raft for a gorgeous mouthful.
Don’t stress about accoutrements.
Put out some honey, dried fruit, a few nuts, and some cured meat, if you like. Don’t worry about perfect pairings. Guests will have fun mixing and matching.
Store leftovers in waxed paper.
When the party’s over, wrap your firm cheeses in waxed paper or parchment – they keep better that way than in Saran. Store your gooey creamies in a plastic tub or jar. Bag your blues and keep them separate from other cheeses so that those beautiful blue spores don’t spread.
Enjoy! And remember to talk to your cheesemonger. This is high season for cheese counters and there are gorgeous delights in stock. If you need a primer on how to talk to a cheesemonger, please read the post and let me know how it goes.