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...
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?”