THE ABC’S OF SERVING CHEESE Holiday cheese trays might have once deserved their bad rap due to memories of limp yellow blobs on toothpicks or tasteless, red wax-wrapped chunks of Gouda, but no longer. These tips for better ways to serve choice cheeses come from artisan cheese maven Lynne Devereux and Whole Foods Market certified cheese professional Francesca di Donato. THINK SWEET AND SAVORY Include olives, nuts, fresh and/or dried fruits and honeys as a backdrop. Guava paste goes great with hard cheese as it provides a dense sweetness, says Devereux. Poached figs or quince served with Stilton blue cheese will really impress your guests, adds di Donato. DON’T GO CARB CRAZY “Crackers can detract from the cheese if they have too many ingredients,” Devereux says. She prefers plain water crackers and baguettes as an accompaniment. BUY FEWER TYPES OF CHEESE THAN YOU THINK A selection of three is perfect for smaller parties and no more than five for larger events, says Devereux. “You don’t need a fantasy display,” she remarks. MIX IT UP “You can bet on success with a triple cream brie or camembert, a gruyère or another hard, nutty or sweet cheese, and a ‘wild card,’ maybe a goat, blue or washed rind to play with,” says di Donato. “Surprise your guests with something you love.” TIME YOUR PURCHASES If you must buy a few days ahead, then pick cheeses not yet ripe. “Press the cheese, and if it feels like your eyebrow, a little firm but soft, then buy it and let it sit,” says Devereux. If you can push your thumb all the way down, then the cheese should be eaten the same day. STORE CHEESE PROPERLY Use your refrigerator’s vegetable drawer. “It’s got the right humidity and air flow for cheese,” says di Donato, “and it’s more protected and consistent temperature-wise than other parts of the fridge.” NEVER KEEP CHEESE IN PLASTIC “Cheese is a living food and it needs air and moisture, kind of like a canary,” “SURPRISE YOUR GUESTS WITH SOMETHING YOU LOVE.” Surface-ripened cylinder of full-flavored Inverness from Cowgirl Creamery packs a tangy punch.
South Bay Accent - Dec 2014/Jan 2015
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