Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cheese Extravanganza

Wanna learn how to WOW your audience? Make them jealous of your coolness? Pimp your entertaining status up a bit?

Hello, Cheese Platter.

I am not talking about going to Costco and grabbing their platter of cheddar and crackers. Oh no, my friends. I am talking about creating a cheese extravaganza so cheesy that your heart skips a beat just viewing it's goodness. I hope you are not lactose intolerant. I really really hope you are not.


How to say cheese:

1st. Get yourself a cheese board. I like having one because it has a purpose to do just that... be a cheese board. Of course, you don't have to have one at all because any cutting board or platter will work just fine if you need it to. It is also wise to buy yourselves some cheese spreaders. Without them, it can be quite the awkward cheese-spreading experience.

2nd. Go to the cheese counter/deli. There are many places that provide you with A LOT of different and fabulous cheeses in one stop. Our favorites in the area are:


Cheese counters/deli's can be REALLY overwhelming. However, the wonderful thing about these counters is that there is usually a cheese guy behind them. He is your key to opening this new refined door in your life. Sometimes we tell him exactly what we want, sometimes we ask his opinion considering what we are using the cheese for (a certain pizza or cheese platter or picnic), and sometimes if they allow it (Delaurenti does), we ask to sample.

Sample Sample Sample. This is VERY important, especially if you are new to this cheese thing.
Your sample-tasting experience usually goes something like this:

You: So, behind-the-cheese-counter-guy, we're having a picnic tomorrow. We already have Brie and some cheddar and figs and grapes, so we're trying to find more of a blue-cheese-type to contrast with that fruit.
Him: How about this? (handing us a piece to taste)
You: Yuck.
Him: How about this?
You: We're getting warmer.
Him: How about this?
You: Perfect. Now can you write that down for me? I want to remember that for next time.

Easy Cheesy.
*PS. If you can't go to this type of counter to taste... your local grocery store is still a good stop. We usually buy a few creamy cheeses like Brie and Chevre there.

Cheeses we love: Brie, Stilton, Gorgonzola, Parmesan-Reggiano, Gouda, Chevre, Cheddar, and a good sheep's milk cheese. (when preparing a large platter, a mix of soft and hard cheeses with some strong and mild are a nice taste for all palates.)


3rd. Hit the Meat Counter, too...
Meats we love: Speck Prusciutto, Alps Prusciutto, Columbus Calabrese (a salami)
(We prefer a prusciutto for the mild and soft texture that pair nicely with the smoothness of the cheese. But flavor-wise, it's fun to have spicy and robust salami)


4th. Gather together those sides.
  • Sweet- Cheese and fruit are like bread and butter. They compliment and contrast. They meld the flavors. They make you sit, savor, and saddle (I couldn't think of another s -word.) The fruit we like are apples sliced very thinly (not too sweet, like pink lady perhaps), green grapes, and figs. I have come to love fig bread (found at Whole Foods). LOVE IT.
  • Savory- Artichoke hearts, cherry peppers, roasted red peppers, etc. When making sandwiches or panini's with your cheeses and meats, these are such a nice compliment.
  • Substance - You have to have something to hold it all together, right? We have found that you don't have to go all-out-gourmet on the crackers. Although we ask that you stay away from Ritz crackers (due to the Costo similarity again and the crumbly texture), we are a fan of triscuits and wheat thins or a simple rosemary flat cracker. When it comes to bread, we like a crusty loaf. Ciabatta is our favorite because of the sandwich capabilities for later.




Fifth. Say Cheese and Enjoy!

Sidenote: We KNOW how expensive this experience can be. However, we also know that such gourmet cheeses are usually not eaten in one sitting. You only need a little to go a long way. We usually get at least 2 meals out of the situation (with guests over as well). One time in an appetizer fashion and sandwiches/panini's are perfect for the next day. The leftovers go into the fridge (vacuum sealed) for next time.


  1. Everyone tries to take pictures of food these days but no one does it as well as you. Your pictures are ALWAYS appetizing and aesthetically pleasing. I don't know how you do it, but you pull off what I haven't seen anyone else do. I usually find close-ups of food to be repulsive and annoying but you capture it in a way that makes me want to experience the food. It is simple yet artistic and original and your tones and focus capture the texture and atmosphere. It's quite a pleasant surprise, I really do love it.

  2. Thanks anonymous! Love the mystery of who you are....


sitt'n here lov'n the food

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