is making a comeback on the entertaining scene. Artisanal varieties
of common types of cheese are rising in popularity and are being used
in many different ways.
As more consumers
become conscious of these locally produced, handmade cheeses, there
is no more timely opportunity than a holiday party or new seasonal
menu to feature them. Cheese can still be the main attraction of
a party at home (paired with some favorite wines, of course). Or
you can offer an end-of-meal course in your restaurant with 3 or
4 different kinds of cheese. Either way, your guests will appreciate
the opportunity to explore artisanal versions of some of their favorites.
Green Peppercorn Pyramid
Jasper Hill Dairy Constant
Matos St George
Redwood Hills Crottin
Uplands Pleasant Ridge
Jasper Hill Dairy Bayley Hazen
Max McCalman, Dean of Curriculum and Maître
Fromager at the Artisanal Cheese Center in New York City, offers
for serving cheese and the following recommendations. These
cheeses are all available from The Artisanal Cheese Center. Call
877-797-1200 to order.
Studded with green peppercorns,
Coach Farms Green Peppercorn Pyramid
is a semi-soft goat’s milk cheese made by Coach Farms in upstate
New York. After the initial fiery punch subsides, your mouth is
calmed by the firm creamy flavor of the surrounding goat's milk
cheese. This is the same cheese as the Coach Farms cone, only in
a slightly larger, pyramid shape.
A briary Zinfandel such as the Ravenswood Teldeschi Zinfandel 2000
from Dry Creek Valley
Highly regarded cheesemaker
Paula Lambert makes Hoja Santa goat's
milk cheese at the Mozzarella Cheese Company in Dallas, Texas. The
name of the cheese comes from the velvety heart-shaped leaves of
local plants in which the cheese is wrapped. Hoja Santa, also known
as "The Root Beer Plant," imparts a subtle sassafras flavor
to this soft, fresh cheese.
A Sauvignon Blanc such as the Jean-Paul Balland Grande Cuvée
Hill Dairy Constant Bliss, a raw Ayreshire cow's milk cheese,
is made exclusively from fresh, uncooled evening milk in Greensboro,
VT. It has a very clean, creamy flavor, with hints of mushroom at
the finish. Brothers Mateo and Andy Kehler, founders of this farmstead
operation, named this cheese after a Revolutionary War scout who
was guarding the Bayley Hazen Military Road commissioned by George
Washington to fight the troops on the Canadian Front.
Dry Champagne or a Pinot Noir. Try the Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve
NV or the Archery Summit Red Hills Pinot Noir 2001
St George, a semi-soft farmstead member of the cheddar family,
is made by a family that emigrated from the Azores to the outskirts
of Santa Rosa, California.
A Pinot Noir such as the Sea Smoke Ten Pinot Noir 2002
Hills Crottin is an award-winning cheese from Sonoma County.
This soft goat’s milk cheese has a gentle, tart and creamy
flavor. It is strongly influenced by the French Crottin de Chavignol.
A Chenin Blanc such as the Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc 2003 from South
Using only the very best
Wisconsin milk from his personal herd, Mike Gingrich has created
Uplands Pleasant Ridge, a cheese similar to those of Beaufort,
France, but with a complexity of flavor that is distinctly American.
It has a nutty, clean flavor and a finish that shows off the high
quality of the milk.
Dry champagnes, Chardonnays, and Merlot. Try the Au Bon Climat Talley
Vineyard Chardonnay 2000 or the Havens Merlot 2001
Since 2003, Mateo Kehler has
been making Jasper Hill Dairy Bayley Hazen
Blue from the raw milk of his Ayershire cows. Based on the
recipe for Stilton, Bayley Hazen Blue has a woody natural rind reminiscent
of tree bark, and a firm, dry paste with an aggressive blue flavor.
A big red such as the Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel 2002
1. Bring cheeses to room temperature before serving.
2. Offer cheeses with a variety of textures, appearances and flavors.
3. Offer a range of soft to hard cheeses.
4. A cheese plate should have no more than one blue cheese, but
at least one sheep’s milk, one goat’s milk, ....and
one or two cow’s milk cheeses.
5. Pair cheeses to be offered with more than one wine, and offer
cider for the holiday designated driver.
6. Serve cheese with a neutral bread, such as a fresh crusty baguette,
instead of crackers.
7. Cheese can also be served with sliced apple or pear, fig and
almond cake, quince paste, or nuts.