"A cheese may disappoint. It may be dull, it may be naive, it may
be oversophisticated. Yet it remains, cheese... milk's leap toward immortality."
— Clifton Fadiman
Ah The Power of Cheese, indeed!
Could it be true that cheese is the No. 1 food craving in America, even beating out chocolate?
Cheese is replacing chocolate in the hearts of consumers. It's true!
Independent research revealed that when consumers were asked which food gift they’d like to
receive, more Americans said they would rather receive cheese (19%) than candy (13%).
Americans are learning to love cheese all by itself thanks to many restaurants now offering an
after-dinner cheese course, allowing consumers to enjoy flavorful cheeses with fruit, nuts or
breads. Move over death-by-chocolate layered cake. Make way for cheese!
Cheese is big business for retailers. Volume sales in 2002 were 1.9 billion lbs, up 0.7% from
2001, and dollar sales were $7.6 billion, up 2.6%, according to Information Resources Inc.
It’s well established that Americans have a strong and growing appetite for cheese. And we’re
not just talking an extra slice of American on a burger. Americans are gobbling up cheeses of
every form, flavor and fashion — to the tune of about 30 lbs per person annually.
So now that we know you love it, here's a Cheese FAQ to help you enjoy it to the fullest.
How Do I Serve Cheese?
Serve all cheeses at room temperature! Remove cheeses from the refrigerator at least an hour before serving. Hard cheeses take longer to reach room temperature. As a rustic peasant food, cheese displays well on wood or marble or stone boards, surrounded by fruits (especially berries), nuts, your favorite low carb breads or crackers, and wine.
Try to avoid cubing or slicing in advance, and put out one cheese knife or cheese plane per cheese. For a big crowd, where self-service is key, you may pre-slice or cube, but the cheese will dry out quickly and, as a display technique, it's fairly cheesy. If you must precut cheese, use a covered cheese dome.
Cheese Board / Cheese Course:
Some basic things to consider when serving a cheese course:
As hor d'oeurves, avoid sweet-ish cremes (which are more for dessert), blues (that can be too strong), or very
aged cheese (almost always too strong.) Stick to bloomy rinds, medium washed rinds or semi-softs.
Three to five cheeses are enough for any course. Less is more in this case.
After dinner cheeses would typically start with a fresh cheese (e.g., chevre) or bloomy rind (e.g., camembert); then a semi-soft or medium cheese (e.g., Morbier or Cheddar); then a harder cheese (e.g., an aged Gouda); finally a blue (e.g., Roquefort).
A cheese plate is arranged in clockwise fashion with the first cheese at midnight on the plate.
It's a good idea to vary the milk types, too: goat, sheep and cow.
Don't be afraid to experiment. Start with what you like first and work around it.
How Cheese Do I Store Cheese?
When wrapping cheese you want to maintain moisture while allowing the cheese to breathe. Use aluminum
foil, wax paper or plastic wrap (least favorable). Wrap securely and store in consistent temperature, preferably in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator.
Fresh Cheeses, such as cream cheese, are fragile and highly perishable-eat them quickly. They are best kept in airtight containers.
Soft-ripened and triple cremes, like Brie and Saint Andre, will keep at least a week refrigerated in plastic, but waxed paper is better if you can keep out the air.
Wrap semi-soft Taleggio, and the like, with plastic (stinky, washed-rind cheeses like Alsace Munster should have wrapping changed often.)
Semi-firm (eg. Comte, Fontina) should be wrapped securely to maintain moisture. In some instances when the cheese is crumbly moist like Caerphilly, wrap it in a slightly damp cloth.
Avoid letting hard cheeses like Parmigiano-Reggiano dry out; keep them securely wrapped in wax paper or
Wrap Blue cheese securely in foil and refrigerate.
With individual chevres (eg. Valency, Crottin de Chavignol), avoid plastic wrap. Opt instead for foil, wax paper, or sealed containers. This allows the cheese to breathe, retaining moisture as it ages, and developing flavor and texture for up to two months.
Pasta Filata (eg. Mozzarella, Provolone): Fragile cheeses should be consumed quickly, if fresh. Avoid letting harder versions dry out by wrapping securely.
What Wines Go With What Cheeses?
An Oversimplified Guide:
Wine and cheese were typically paired from the same region. Now, with the explosive variety available to us, we can begin to experiment along these (admittedly) oversimplified guides.
||Sweet wines, dry wines,
||Medium reds, ciders
||Dry whites, beer & ales, full-bodied reds
whites, full-bodied reds
||Either whites, or reds|
||Ports, light reds
What Else Can I Serve With Cheese?
Almonds help bring out the subtleties of cheese flavor and aroma. Toasted hazelnuts and walnuts interchangeably work with cheese, and pecans go well with sweet or unctous cheeses.
Olives naturally complement sheep and goat's milk cheese. Experiment with dried fruits like berries or melon.
Chutneys (like Steel's low carb mango ginger chutney) are a tasty alternative that meld nicely with the texture and nuances of English farmhouse cheeses. Chutney with Cheddar is simply delicious. French chevre with its stark white moist, flaky or crumbly paste is a choice for chutney, also perfect with juicy plums, if your diet level can handle them.
Try blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and whatever other ripe and bursting with flavor fresh berries are available. Apple slices with Cheddar and pears with Stilton are amazing if your carb
count can accomodate.
Serve thin slices of proscuitto, Serrano ham and sweet or spicy salamis, especially with aged cheeses like Pecorino and Manchego.
If you choose to serve low carb crackers, pick unsalted ones. And the crustier low carb breads are best, especially with creamy soft ripened creations.
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