Monday, July 4, 2011

A July 4 Cheese Plate with Friends


You might think it would be impossible to put together a red, white, and blue cheese board without getting corny. Think again. There are some very fine cheeses that come in multicolored wax. And if you think of "red" in loose terms -- a pimento-studded Basque-aroo, say -- you can pull off a spicy snack plate that fits the star-spangled theme.

For a party in Media, PA, hosted by a pair of world travelers now home-bound with tikes, I plundered the cheese worlds of France, Spain, and Australia for a luxe cheese plate that, lo, even the kids gobbled.

Get ready. Here's the sequence. Truly, this is one of the best little combos ever. Once July 4 is over, I will happily serve it again.

Ossau Iraty with Pimento: This classic sheep's milk cheese is smooth and nutty. With a touch of dried pimento (Piment d'Espelette), which is native to the region, this gorgeous hunk turns into a beautiful Dorito. Sounds slanderous, I know, but I am using the term "Dorito" as a term of endearment. I owe the description to cheesemonger Ezekial Ferguson of Di Bruno Bros. 

As you can see from the photo, the red is subtle. If you only buy one nice cheese this summer, make it this one. It's absolutely delicious -- so creamy, so complex with its nutty-sweet tones, and just faintly kicky.

Pave D'Affinois: I couldn't resist a cheese cube, something contained and easy to tote. Kara of Almanac Market introduced me to this little Brie-like number. It's soft and simple, a good foil for cherries. Interestingly, the children of our party took to it immediately and begged for slice upon slice.  

Roaring Forties Blue: This Australian blue is creamy and fruity, a favorite at every party. I'm always drawn to its blue wax casing. It's made by King Island Dairy, just south of Melbourne.

And the party. To the cheese-eating children.


There he is, the Blue Cheese Brit. Notice the gleam in his eye.

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