|The Art of the Local Cheese Board|
|Features - The Craft of Cooking|
|Written by Kate Demase|
The time for holiday entertaining is upon us, and anyone that has ever thrown a dinner party knows there are a few basic guidelines for success:
• Pay special attention to the guest list.
• Decorate appropriately.
• Seating is very important.
These 3 tenets can also be applied to putting together a classic holiday appetizer – a (local- themed) cheese board.
Pay special attention to the guest list. Like guests at a party, you’ll want the cheeses on your board to be able to mingle well.
Picking your cheeses is the most important step in creating this hors d'œuvre (clearly). You’ll want 3-5 different pieces and a variety of milks and textures. Most cheeses are made from either goat, cow, or sheep’s milk (or a combination), and each have very different flavor notes - a well balanced board will include at least one cheese from all three milks. Texture is another consideration- pick a hard cheese, a semi-soft or blue, and a soft cheese like a brie or fresh goat to give enough variety.
There are some fantastic local cheeses, readily available, that make excellent guests at any party.
One fantastic arrangement:
1. Consider Barnwell’s Rupert, a hard cow’s milk cheese from Vermont reminiscent of Gruyere with a nutty, mellow flavor.
2. 3 Corner Field Brebis Blanche, a fresh sheep’s milk cheese from New York with a smooth, ricotta-like texture.
3. Twig Farm’s Northstone, a semi-soft goat from Vermont with a tangy flavor and smooth creaminess.
A short list of other great local options?
Decorate appropriately. Just as you carefully choose your holiday decorations, you’ll need to make sure you have the right accompaniments for your cheese.
Lucky us, there are tons of local and seasonal options to dress up your cheese board. A pile of walnuts drizzled with local honey, some Bonnie’s Black and Blue Jam, or a baguette from Iggy’s or Clear Flour are all welcome treats. Personally, I make it a point to grab some house-made pate from Formaggio Kitchen- duck with pancetta and cherries is delicious with a hard cow’s milk, a soft goat’s milk, or just by itself. And, while grapes are a common fruit to serve with cheese, go seasonal with some heirloom apples.
Pay attention to seating. Seat the wrong two people next to each other at a party and risk starting a fight. Put the wrong two items next to each other one a cheese board and risk ruining the flavor of everything.
For sheep cheese and most blues, jams and fruits should be placed nearby. For goats cheeses, honey and nuts should live next door, and cow’s milk cheese typically pairs well with cured meats, pates, or olives. By placing the cheese next to the intended partner on your board, you create a visual guide for your guests.
Follow these instructions and you can’t go wrong with your local themed cheese board, for any holiday party. Enjoy!
Kate Demase writes a Boston-based food blog, The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread. Check out the blog and follow her on twitter: @bestthingsliced. This is Kate's first article for Local In Season.