Creating a Scrumptious Cheese Tray

As seen in The Laurel Magazine, June 2011 Edition.

Creating a Scrumptious Cheese TrayThe plate with four different cheeses looks so good. 

But leave that to restaurants and food photographers.  At home, there is nothing better than one cheese served with the perfect drink. 

Buying cheese can be as fun as buying a bottle of wine.  Most of us buy too much cheese and it ends up at the back of the refrigerator spoiled. 

When inquiring as to how long cheese would last, JT Fields of Mountain Fresh Grocery in Highlands said, “A lot depends on the type of cheese and how it is stored.  Certain cheeses — Brie, washed rind goat – actually get better with a little age.  The keyword is ‘little.’ Try to buy only what you can eat in a week.  Better retailers and cheese mongers will pack hand-cut artisan cheese in a wax or parchment paper to allow the cheese to breathe. 

“If it’s not wrapped in a paper, the cheese should be taken out of any plastic wrap when you get home and wrapped in wax paper.  Hold it closed with a rubber band.  If you have cheese left over 10 days, open the cheese and smell it.  Barnyard smells are normal in most artisan cheeses.  However, if you get a whiff of ammonia, it’s probably past and should be thrown out.”

Pairing wine and cheese can be intimidating, but really, it’s all about experimenting. 

Chef Sean Ruddy of Hampton Market says, “A fatty cheese will go better with an acidic white wine for a   contrasting taste; with red wine you want a cheese with a higher protein content because it is at the other end of the spectrum.” 

Sallie Peterkin of Cornucopia Gourmet Meats & Specialty Shop in Cashiers recommends pairing Painted Cinderella, which is a goat cheese, brie or a formage d’affinois with white wine, sauvignon blanc or prosecco and with red wine or cabernet Manchego paired with honey.  Sallie also recommends beer with cheese — the yeasty, fruity, earthy and herbal flavors often found in beer are found just as often in cheese, making them perfect pairing partners. 

Now to garnish your cheese plate use fruits, nuts, spreads or meats.  Whatever you need, our cheesemongers will be able to guide you in the right direction.  Enjoy! 

For more information, call Cornucopia Gourmet Meats & Specialty Shop at (828) 743-2181; Hampton Market at (828) 743-2411; or Mountain Fresh Grocery at (828) 526-2400.

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