For those hosting a sophisticated soiree or a casual get-together this holiday, serving a sumptuous gourmet cheese course is ideal as a starter or centerpiece of the meal. Preparation is simple (no cooking!) but like fine wine, serving a gourmet cheese course can be mystifying.
How to select an array of cheeses? What sort of foods to serve alongside? Not to mention the question of what to drink.
"As a host, you want to impress guests with an exciting culinary adventure, but learning about gourmet cheese can be overwhelming," said Sara Kahn, Founder of The Cheese Ambassador. "There are no hard and fast rules. Just keep in mind a few basic considerations." The seven simple tips for serving a cheese course include:
1. A cheese course is about observing and enjoying contrasting and complementary flavors. For a foolproof gourmet cheese course, select 3 - 5 fine cheeses that vary in texture and flavor.
2. For an even more mind blowing cheese experience, serve accompaniments such as juicy grapes, briny olives and crunchy warmed nuts. These little tidbits add even more distinct tastes to the spread and enhance the epicurean experience.
3. Cold cheese is unhappy cheese. Before serving, allow it to come to room temperature (about an hour). This lets the flavors emerge to their fullest. It may be tempting to sneak a bite but it's well worth the wait.
4. Keep the cheeses looking and tasting their best until you are ready to serve. Cover with wax paper or plastic wrap so they do not dry out.
5. Save the mingling for the party. Use a separate knife for each cheese so the flavors do not mix.
6. That bold blue cheese may be your favorite but save the best for last or it may be the only thing you taste. Be sure to start with the mildest cheese and progress to the sharpest. This allows your palate to adjust to the increase in flavors.
7. Wines are meant to cleanse the palate, wash away the tongue-coating richness of the cheese and prepare the mouth for the next bite. It's important that the wine selections don't overwhelm the cheese and vice versa. Essentially, you'll want to match wine and cheese of the same intensity level. Just remember "like for like".
Holiday party hosts can find cheese serving tips, expert wine pairing suggestions and food recommendations at The Cheese Ambassador.
About The Cheese Ambassador: Even though her passion for gourmet cheese was undying, Sara Kahn found shopping for it to be time consuming and confusing. She established The Cheese Ambassador to offer a simple way to select and serve the world's most exquisite cheeses. By providing gourmet cheese gift baskets that offer the perfect combination of fine cheese along with a comprehensive cheese course guide, enjoying gourmet cheese is now a deliciously enriching experience.