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Say Cheese...and Wine


Cheese is great for sharing and ideal for relaxed entertaining. Next time instead of serving a full-blown meal, why not invite friends round for a carefully selected cheeseboard? Most cheeses are excellent to serve as they come. Some specialty bread or crackers and a glass of wine on the side will be enough to make them unforgettable.

How to prepare a cheeseboard
Keep it simple. Too many small portions of different cheeses make it difficult to choose. If cheese will be the dessert, choose one hard cheese, one medium-soft, and one blue. For a cheese and wine party, add a second cheese of each kind plus one soft cheese and another creamy one. The tendency these days is to serve at least one goat's milk cheese.

Most cheeses should be served on a wooden board, never on metal, glass or china surfaces where the knife would make screeching sound. Every kind of cheese should have its own knife or cutting tool to preserve its flavor and not mix it with that of the other varieties. Cheese knifes with curved edges to hold the cut portion are convenient for hard or semi-hard cheeses. Present semi-soft cheese the same way, or finely sliced.

Cutting rectangular cheese portions will make easier to pack leftovers. It is more difficult to wrap round cheese pieces or those with an irregular shape. Cut round or wheel shaped cheeses carefully, minimizing cut surface.

Most people eat cheese au naturel only with bread, crackers and butter, however, a few prefer cheese on its own and would use knife and fork.

A party cheeseboard
Present and garnish with flair. Get fresh pieces about the same size and place them well apart on a wooden board, provide a knife for each one. Garnish with colorful fruits. Grapes always go extremely well with cheese and red grapes will provide the color. Place the grapes on the side or center, on the same board. Other ideas are nibbles like dried fruits and toasted nuts in small bowls.

One can go for a theme and prepare a board with different styles from one country or one region. Many cheeses change in taste depending on the season, so there is room to present the same cheeses to the same guests and still enjoy a very different experience.

Offer bread, butter, biscuits or crackers on a tray apart. Bread and butter sprinkled with little cheese crumbs do not contribute to the festive mood.

A cheese party off the board
Try something different and serve tapas style hard cheese chunks with sliced saucisson, olives and cherry tomatoes. Cream cheese and crudités -small vegetable pieces, like celery or carrot sticks- are also an option in a cheese party.

A grilled cheese on toast will not tax anyone in the kitchen and provides an opportunity to show one's gourmet side. Try baked Camembert, still warm from the oven, with crusty bread and celery sticks, or your favorite blue cheese grilled on foccacia bread with fresh fig slices.

Serve a selection of cheese and specialty breads slices accompanied by an assortment of chutneys and relishes -remember the little serving spoons. Simple Cheddar shines in a new light on rye bread with a spoonful of mango and apple chutney on top.

Wine and cheese
Even if it might come as a surprise, white wines usually make better partners for cheese than reds. Whenever in doubt, a white wine will make success more likely.

• Hard cheese will match with wonderfully aromatic wines.
• Soft cheese, usually pungent and creamy, will take light and fruity reds, also rich, fresh whites.
• Blue cheese -i.e. Roquefort, made from ewe's milk- is rich and flavorful with a tangy finish will find its match in sweet wines or port.
• Goat's milk cheese comes in every flavor and texture, from sweet and mild to aged and pungent, however, goat's cheese and a crisp, fresh Sauvignon Blanc are a traditional pairing.
• Sheep's milk cheeses will usually find their ideal wine match in Muscat or Riesling, unless it is aged Manchego traditionally paired with a spicy red.
• Strong or flavored cheeses -smoked Idiazabal- will match with chilled whites -try Riesling or one of the local Txacolis.

Mariah Deavine is the new food writing talent to join All Foods Natural where she brings her imaginative recipes. You can also find more ideas about cheese, at World Food and Wine, just visit the Food Pantry.

Categories: Food & Recipes, MomShare,

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