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Eating cheese

post #1 of 46
Thread Starter 
How do you construct a good cheese platter? There is nothing I enjoy more after a meal than a nice selection of cheese, and I'd like to start approaching the habit with a bit more understanding. Right now, I've been using 1 soft, 1 semi-soft, and 2 hard, with some almonds, olives and cornichons. What are some other good combinations and accompaniments to use? How do you eat cheese?
post #2 of 46
cured meats fit in nicely with hardcheeses on plates. a good honey does well with bolder cheeses to mellow them out. You can organize them by region (spanish cheeses, or greek cheeses, etc) or attempt to pair complimentary flavor profiles from different regions.
post #3 of 46
Thread Starter 
Yes. I love cured meats and cheese together. After a meal, though, I usually forego the meat. What about mixing cheese made with different milks, such as from a cow, sheep, or goat? Is there an art to blending these varieties?
post #4 of 46
mgm, if I understand what you are wanting, you are putting entirely too much extra "stuff" on your cheese plate. Best, and what is traditional as far as I know, is to skip the cornichons, olives and almonds. The first two are disasters because of their flavor profiles. You do not want acidity, bitterness and extreme saltiness with your cheese, and with almonds, there is no reason to add fat to the plate. If you need to put something with your cheese, try a little fruit. Or don't, I don't think fruit actually adds. Now, you do need some bread. I prefer country bread, but baguette or walnut works as well. As far as cheese selection itself, a good rule of thumb is to have one soft, one semi-soft, one blue and one other. The other could be a goat or a hard. You really do want a blue on there. They are the most magnificent of cheeses, and there is so much good variety. We use a beautiful Jasper Morrison cheese plate that I believe is no longer made. It is quite minimal, but decorative at the same time.
post #5 of 46
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Matt. I mostly used the acidity as a way to refresh the palate between each cheese, but maybe that misses the point of creating a balanced platter. I love blue. I tried my first Shropshire from England this week. It's great stuff. I have a long wooden cutting board that I serve on for rusticity, and also a white platter, for something more elegant.
post #6 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by mgm9128 View Post
Thanks, Matt. I mostly used the acidity as a way to refresh the palate between each cheese, but maybe that misses the point of creating a balanced platter. I love blue. I tried my first Shropshire from England this week. It's great stuff. I have a long wooden cutting board that I serve on for rusticity, and also a white platter, for something more elegant.
Just remember to take your cheese out several hours before and to put it in a not hot area. It makes all the difference. I love English blues. My favorite, right now, is Stichelton, but I also like French blues a lot, though what we get here is not as good as what you find over there. Still very good. Point Reyes Blue from my area is quite a nice American blue. I, unlike others, dislike most of the CA cheeses, even Cowgirl, but this is a nice cheese. Try a bunch. A very old fashioned, and wonderful, way to eat blue is on bread with a bit of salted butter. Great combination.
post #7 of 46
Living in the LES this summer I have discovered the glory of Saxelby's. I have something from Vermont that is Brie-ish in form but blue-ish in flavor, it is wonderful. Going to eat way too much with a bottle of gamay tonight.
post #8 of 46
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by iammatt View Post
Just remember to take your cheese out several hours before and to put it in a not hot area. It makes all the difference. I love English blues. My favorite, right now, is Stichelton, but I also like French blues a lot, though what we get here is not as good as what you find over there. Still very good. Point Reyes Blue from my area is quite a nice American blue. I, unlike others, dislike most of the CA cheeses, even Cowgirl, but this is a nice cheese. Try a bunch. A very old fashioned, and wonderful, way to eat blue is on bread with a bit of salted butter. Great combination.
That sounds delicious. For French blues, I enjoy Bleu d'Auvergne; I like the stronger flavor. My favorite hard cheeses are probably Comte and Gruyere. I'm not a big fan of Brie.
post #9 of 46
Matt probably made a badass cheese platter out of the rotten Epoisses I gave him.
post #10 of 46
fuck man I miss being in Paris and going into a frommage shop...
post #11 of 46
when I am eating cheese at home without comany, I usually go without bread and use a sliced apple or pear instead, and I will usually use a spoon of honey as a side. I am also less formal about what I choose - I'll usually take a few pieces of what I feel like at the time - I eat a lot of blues and aged dutch cheeses, as well as cheddars.
post #12 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by kwilkinson View Post
Matt probably made a badass cheese platter out of the rotten Epoisses I gave him.
Let this be entered into evidence about what a nice guy I am, lest anybody around here get the wrong impression.
post #13 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by iammatt View Post
Let this be entered into evidence about what a nice guy I am, lest anybody around here get the wrong impression.

Finding out was, without exaggeration, the most embarrassing moment of my life.
post #14 of 46
Thread Starter 
How does one gauge the freshness of a cheese such as Époisses, or other "stinky" cheeses? Is it by color, or does the initial stinky smell turn rancid? I've got a wedge of blue that's been sitting in my fridge for the past 2 and a half weeks. It smells strong, but I don't know if that's just the smell of the cheese itself, or if it is just going bad. What's the rule of thumb when storing cheese?
post #15 of 46
MM- there's a good discussion on cheese here. Judging freshness: the best rule when beginning is to buy from a trustworthy cheesemonger and let them help you learn. Judging cheese and developing a palate is for it is no different than doing the same for wine, beer, chocolate... comes with experience. Yes, you can mix cheeses by region, similar or contrasting... by milks... however you want to go at it. If you are really interested, I suggest you read Max McCalman's & David Gibbon's "Mastering Cheese" As he outlines (and acknowledges you can turn almost any of this on its head), the basic logic on progressions is typically (my quick examples in parens):
  • Milder to stronger (Evora to eye-watering Cabrales)
  • Younger to older (fresh goat to 10 year cloth-bound cheddar)
  • Simpler to more complex (Campo de Montalbon to Stichelton)
  • Softer to harder (Capriole to Mimolette)
  • All else being equal: goat to sheep to cow (and of course their are blends)
  • natural rind to bloomy rind to washed rind (the latter being the real stinkers)
  • Pasteurized to raw milks
  • Blues always last
Read their book "The Cheese Plate" too. As others point out: eat what you like, try things... buy only what you can eat in a day or two. Then you get to go back and buy and try more, more frequently Point Reyes blue is very nice as Matt says. Also west coast, be sure to try the blues from Rogue Creamery, especially the smoky blue. If you haven't tried blue with honey yet:
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