Who's Coming With Me? By Tyler the Cheese Guy

Cheese tower by Sid Wainer
 

Today, it’s all about the cheddar…and brie and gorgonzola, we don’t discriminate…because January 20th is National Cheese Lover’s Day. In honor of the event, we present our very own, Tyler the Cheese Guy, to discuss how to best gear your cheese board towards your guests, whether you are staying in with a few friends or headed out to an extravagant dinner party.

“The climate of the food world is diversifying faster than ever, and now, we are racing to keep up with the evolution of food trends and the best way possible to use the ingredients at hand.

Specialty cheese is one of the fastest growing food communities in the United States right now, but it can be a bit elusive and overwhelming with all of the shapes, sizes, styles, textures, smells, flavors, and labels staring out at you, waiting to be your pick of the bunch. More and more, cheese plates are becoming a staple on menus and in home kitchens for millions of Americans.

The first, and possibly most important, step for building the perfect cheese plate for any occasion is understanding your audience. Here are a few thoughts to consider about the partygoers before picking your cheeses and building your “palais du Fromage”. Ask yourself the following questions...

 
cheese board by Sid Wainer
 

How many people will be attending the event?

A cheeseboard for 10 guests should look different from one for 30. 

How much do they typically eat?

Is the family competitive eater, Uncle George, coming?

Are there any dietary restrictions, preferences, or aversions?

Are any of your guests pregnant, vegetarian, vegan, or allergic to nuts? Does Aunt Stella need her Epoisses and Stilton fix? Does Uncle Morty hate garlic?

Are a bunch of foodies coming over?

You should know which cheeses are local, organic, and made from animals that are allowed to roam free—possibly even gather notes on the terroir of its place of origin.

What dishes are others bringing?

Find out if an after-dinner cheese course will encroach on Aunt Helen’s famous fruit tart territory.

Last, but certainly not least, what are some of the group’s favorite cheeses?

When it comes to selecting your cheeses, it is a good idea to incorporate some of your personal preferences, which you feel comfortable reviewing with your guests.  Certainly, in some instances, there will be a partygoer that could care less about any of the factoids associated with a particular cheese. However, in my personal experience, there are usually a few folks that hang back, and accost you, seeking to gather an encyclopedic knowledge on the board at hand. 

Once you ask yourselves these questions and establish your audience, it’s time to go shopping, and sampling, of course. Who’s coming with me?”

 
cheese by Sid Wainer

The Perfect Artisanal Cheese and Meat Board

cheese board

"Serving an assortment of cheeses and cured meats is any smart host’s go-to party snacks.  It saves prep time while still allowing creativity with picking and pairing cheeses, meats and accompaniments.

A great cheese board offers a variety of unique flavors and experiences for your guests. The right selection of quality ingredients are essential in showcasing a contrast of rich flavors and textures. This time, I’m introducing the girls to an assortment of locally made artisanal cheeses and salami exclusively from Sid Wainer & Son®." - Chan Vu

 

Assembly Tips by Sweets by Chan


GOAL: To create a palette of contrasting flavors (i.e. sweet, earthy, pungent, buttery, sharp, nutty and mellow)

AMOUNT: How many guests do you have? A good rule of thumb is two ounces of cheese/meat for every person.

PICK YOUR CHEESES: Have a minimal of two to three varieties of artisanal cheeses. I will have 13 ladies at my party so three varieties of cheeses would be sufficient. I recommend contrasting textures and flavors so the cheeses truly stand out. Sid Wainer & Son Kilchurn Estates® has a great collection of hand-produced and farmhouse-aged Cheddar from the English countryside. For my first pick, I suggest a mild and creamy cheese like Mustard & Ale Cheddar Cheese. Next, pick an herb-infused mild cheese such as Sage Derby Cheese. This traditional Derby cheese has a creamy texture and smooth sage flavor that pairs great with cured meats. The third cheese should be a sharp cheese such as Krystal Pure Cave Aged Cheddar. This cheese was made using calcium crystals and cave-aged for over 15 months! How exquisite are these cheeses? They all taste phenomenal! Trust me. Your guests will be blown away.

See more tips by Chan on her blog, Sweets by Chan

Pickled Concord Grapes

 

A touch of sugar transforms pickling vinegars’ astringency for a unique sweet-tart result, perfect for serving with cheese, tossing over a salad, or snacking right from the jar. In this case, we pickled Concord Grapes and served them over warm brie. The result was a simple, yet decedent pairing that's perfect for entertaining right now; the succulent grapes and their juices easily play off of a haunted (but not overly-themed) October gathering... Boo!

 
Jansal Valley Pickled Grapes
 

Pickled Concord Grapes 

ingredients


1 C White Vinegar 

1 C Jansal Valley® Tangerine Honey

½ C Brown Sugar 

1 C Granulated sugar

1 T Jansal Valley® Pickling Spice 

3 ea Jansal Valley® Cinnamon Sticks

½ C Jansal Valley® Crystalized Ginger 

½ t Jansal Valley® Habanero Salt 

1 lb Concord Grapes

 

Method


In a sauce pot, mix vinegar, honey, sugars, pickling spice, cinnamon, ginger, and habanero salt. Place over high heatuntil mixture begins to boil, then remove from heat.

Place grapes in a tall vessel and pour liquid over grapes so the pickling liquid completely covers the grapes.

Let the pickled grapes come to room temperature and cover tightly with plastic wrap.Let sit overnight in the refrigerator. 

Serve as garnish on your seasonal cheese board or on top of warmed brie.