Cheese Party Pointers
It’s December (hard to believe but true) and that means it’s time to break out the cheese and open some wine because the entertaining season has arrived (whether you’ve come to terms with it or not!). When you don’t have time to cook, or even when you do, a cheese platter is a lovely and simple way to satisfy your guests. It can be the main attraction for a cocktail party or serve as the perfect low-maintenance hors d’oeuvre for a dinner party. Since cheese counters can be overwhelming, here are a few pointers on buying cheeses and what you can serve with them:
For a party of eight or less, offer two or three cheeses, figuring about 2 ounces
per type of cheese per person. Start with a bloomy cheese (“bloomy” refers to
the soft, white rind), such as a buttery, rich Brie or Humboldt Fog. Add a firm,
subtle cheese, such as manchego or Gruyère, and, if you like, a hard, caramelized
cheese such as Parmigiano-Reggiano or an aged Gouda. Cut a few slices so that
guests don’t hesitate to dig in.
For eight to twelve people, offer one or two additional varieties. Try a
pungent cheese such as Epoisses or Taleggio—stinky but delicious!—and a blue
cheese, such as Gorgonzola or Maytag.
Supplement your cheese platter with crackers, breadsticks, olives, nuts,
Italian cold cuts like salami and prosciutto, seasonal fruit, dried fruit, and/or chutney.
All you need are a cheese board or platter, knives, and small bowls or plates for the
accompaniments. Let the beautiful food stand on its own.
Figure three glasses of wine per person (there are four glasses of wine per
750-milliliter bottle). As with food, it’s always better to have leftovers than to run out.
photo by Johnny Valiant