My lovely friend Kristie posted a question to me a few weeks ago that I didn’t get a chance to respond to in time. I apologize Kristie! However, I would like to address her question here now as a part of a new series I am calling “Quick Questions.” Basically, if you have a question about food, entertaining, shopping, restaurants, etc., that I can answer quickly or with just a little research, feel free to post them here and I’ll answer them in the order I get them.
Kristie’s question is a prime example: “I’m supposed to bring an appetizer to a get-together next weekend. I want to take the easiest route possible, so I decided to bring a cheese plate. Any suggestions on what cheeses to choose?”
Cheese plates are a great appetizer option; we almost always have one out when guests arrive – they can try a few different kinds, with different breads or crackers, and it keeps people busy while you are getting the rest of dinner together. Somewhere along the way, I remember someone advising that you should always have a blue cheese, a soft cheese, and a hard cheese. This is probably a good rule to go by, but I also find that blue cheese is not always the biggest crowd pleaser. If you have an adventurous group, go with a good French blue or English Stilton, an herbed goat cheese, and a smoked Gouda (not processed); they all have powerful flavors, but in different ways.
If you are unsure about your guests’ tastes, or know that they are more along the straight and narrow, opt for Havarti (or Dill Havarti, if you can find it), a good sharp Cheddar (not extra sharp) and a decent American Brie or cheap French Brie. Don’t waste a lot of money on cheese if people may not appreciate it! These choices should appeal to a wide range of people, especially when you serve them with good crackers and some fresh fruits – grapes, sliced apples and pears, and berries are always good choices. A thoughtful presentation (that is not to say complicated) is always appreciated, which includes taking the time to set the cheese out in advance of your guests arrival, since the flavors are always more pronounced at room temperature.
Keep the questions coming!
PS – I have to give a shout out to my friend Alex for coming up with the idea of posting this series! Make sure you check out his hilarious website, which I have linked on the right. He is not only clever, but pretty funny, too; okay, he’s one of the funniest people in the world. Seriously.
Good call on not spending a lot on cheese. I have spent a lot on cheese just to have it sit, unloved, on the cutting board. Also, I *heart* dill harvarti!