Serving Cheese

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by marzoli, Jan 20, 2006.

  1. marzoli

    marzoli

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    Can anyone explain to me how to serve Brie?
    And what is the white stuff on the outside? Do you eat it? It looks . . . nasty and dry. All the Bries had this same coating-soft/dry white stuff. I saw Emeril use cheese with this coating and he just put it all in a pot to melt - for a fondue. I am not doing a fondue-want to do a cheese tray with a wide variety of cheeses.
    Also, on other cheeses such as gouda, do you leave the rind on or cut it off?
    Obviously, I don't know much about cheeses, but I want to learn.
    Thanks!
     
  2. markv

    markv

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    The rind on Brie is edible and some people love it. I think it's analogous to eating cardboard with my cheese but that's just me.

    The Gouda rind is made from wax so that's gotta go.

    When choosing cheeses for a cheese platter, the general approach is to include at least one cheese from each of the textural classes, (soft, semi-soft, hard, and blue), with the possible exception of fresh cheese which usually isn’t included in such a presentation. If you’re assembling a large platter with more than one cheese per category, select a mild and a strong cheese within each subdivision. For example, for the blue category, combine a Stilton, (which is milder), with a strong Danish blue. Now you can run the gamut of textures and flavor intensities.

    As for wines, the pairings follow a similar principle as with food: lighter and fruitier wines with milder cheeses and more assertive wines with stronger cheeses. But of course there are always exceptions. Some classic combos include Brie with chardonnay or champagne, blue cheese with port or sauternes, provolone with Chianti, and sharp cheddar with Cabernet. If you really wish to go by the book, a progression from lighter to more robust cheeses and wines is typically served.

    Mark
     
  3. suzanne

    suzanne

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    May I add to MarkV's excellent tips:

    Another way to organize your cheese platter is by animal. That is, you could do a vertical selection, such as all sheep-milk cheeses (Roquefort for the blue, Perail for the soft, Manchego or Pecorino for the hard). Or you can do a horizontal tasting of similar style cheeses from various milks: all soft or semi-soft, or all hard, one each from cows, sheep, and goats.

    But I must contradict him on the question of fresh cheeses: there are many fine, mild, fresh goat cheeses -- in fact, there are fresh cheeses of all milks that can be and are used to great advantage on a cheese plate. It all depends on where you want to put the emphasis: animal, texture, variety.

    The Cheese Plate by Max McCalman and David Gibbons is one of the best resources I know to learn about putting together a cheese selection.
     
  4. mezzaluna

    mezzaluna

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    Mark, I remove the rind on cheese too. My French friends say I eat cheese like a young child. :D
     
  5. someday

    someday

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    Oh man, you gotta eat the rind.

    One thing to keep in mind, a LOT of people eat Brie and other similar cheeses when they are not rip enough. You will know when your Brie is ripe when it literally oozes out when you cut into it, or it is extremely soft when pressed with your finger. In this case, the rind should be a kind of...I dunno how to describe it...crumbly, almost cracked looking beige color. The pure white mold would probably indicate that the Brie is not ripe enough.

    It would still be good, just not as good. And I urge you to try the rind, it is really excellent.

    For some reason I personally like a nice fruity Pinot Noir with my brie, but I'm sure that breaks all kind of rules. But I think it tastes freaking great.
     
  6. someday

    someday

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    Sorry I forgot...

    One thing I didn't see mentioned is that you generally want to serve cheese at room temperature. So, before you cut it, let it sit out at least 1/2 an hour. It allows the flavors to come out a lot more...it really is quite a difference.
     
  7. markv

    markv

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    I like Suzanne's idea of doing a vertical cheese spread, i.e., all from one animal.

    And Some day, what couldn't go with Pinot Noir?

    Especially the real stuff from Burgundy.

    (said Mark opening a can of French worms)

    Mark
     
  8. andrew563

    andrew563

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    Okay, I will probably make alot of people mad, or make them think i am just plain trailer trash. but brie tastes like dirt to me. And not good dirt. Just in my humble opinion. not trying to start a fight or anything.
     
  9. markv

    markv

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    Andrew, you have as much right to say that brie tastes like dirt as I do to say that real pinot noir comes from Burgundy.

    I'm not picking a fight either, just expressing my opinion.

    C'mon over and we'll open up some Cracker Barrel and Echezeaux.

    Mark
     
  10. mangilao30

    mangilao30

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    I love cheese but not all cheese and the idea of the vertical spread from one animal is a great idea. Also put out a variety of ages, fresh and soft, young, aged and really old just to give folks a idea of how cheese can change over time. As I am in Italy, I miss aged, sharp white cheddar I used to eat from Cabot in Vermont. I guess I'll just have to take a jaunt over to England.

    If you are not sure what cheese will take like, try going to a nice gourmet deli where they will give you a sample before you buy.

    About rind, I don't like the taste of it at all and my hubby eats all my leftover rinds. He even eats the heel of parmigianno which Italians save for soups. So serve with rind cheese with the rind on, in case someone really likes it.

    A good idea for brie that I have tried before. Take a nice wheel of brie and place a good piece of puff pastry on top of it. Tuck the pastry under the wheel and place on a baking sheet. Next carmelize some pecans and place on top of the pastry, bake until golden and serve with crisp granny smith apple wedges. Have fun!
     
  11. andrew563

    andrew563

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    I like cracker barrel.
     
  12. mezzaluna

    mezzaluna

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    I'm with you, Andrew. There was a discussion here (I think it was with Harold McGee) that some people taste "smelly socks" when they eat roquefort and other blue cheeses. I think that must apply to other cheeses as well. I get a jolt of ammonia up my nose (as if I were eating bad shrimp :eek: ) when I eat old cheese or rind on camembert or brie. That's a shortcoming I can live with!

    I've been enjoying eating good Parmigiano and Grana Padano in slivers with or without crackers. I guess I like the savory, salty flavor. The Grana almost tastes buttery at the finish. I just made some fricos with the last of it. YUM.
     
  13. scott123

    scott123

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    When it comes to putting together a cheese platter, understanding your audience is crucial. If you've got people who's idea of cheese is velveeta, you don't serve them humboldt fog.

    Attempting to stretch your guest's culinary universe a little bit isn't bad, you just don't want to blow it to smithereens. The goal is to entertain and nourish, not force people into trying new things.

    There are safe cheeses and there are adventurous cheeses. A good cheese salesperson should know what's what. Your own palate can be a good guide as well. From my own experience I have found that unless it's chevre, goat cheese can get pretty exotic. Same for sheep. Blue can be an acquired taste as well.

    Don't get me wrong, these are all wonderful cheeses, but if you happen to have cheese virgins on your hands, I think it's best to begin with baby steps.

    P.S. If you're slicing the cheeses for a platter (which I'd recommend for any non soft cheese), you definitely want to cut off the rind.
     
  14. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    There are a lot of different ways to set up a cheese platter. The traditional way is, like Mark said, with an example or two from each class of cheese, but I also like to create other platters based on other ideas. Some of the platters that I have done in the past have included: a tasting of blues (rouquetfort, stilton, gorgonzola, Cabrales, and Maytag), a tasting of cheddars (from young to one with 8 years of age), a tasting of cheddars (from England vs. the US), just to name of few. Another way is to pick a wine and then pair the cheeses with the wine based on their origin. Say you were going to serve a sancerre, then look for wines from the Loire Valley in France, a Burgundian Pinot Noir, then some burgundian cheeses. This is not always a sure fire bet, but often it is.
     
  15. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    Cheese....ummmmmm

    Goatsbeard is a farmstead dairy that makes incredible hand ladeled chevre....they sell at CFM so I have at least 20 # in my fridge and freezer....one of the most popular cheese plates has this chevre in a mound with pesto, toasted pinenuts on top and calamata olives ringing it....served with bagel chips or pita chips. Oil packed sundried tomatoes would work too.

    D'affanoise is popular now....I've catered lunches with a cheese course...a wedge of D'affanoise, fresh or poached pears and Carrs ww biscuits.

    I totally agree on knowing your clients/guests.....I'll go with some pretty basics then have a stinky 2x or 3x creme for the cheeseheads. Nectaire...
    was a major hit at a University function.

    Fox River Dairy is a local wholesaler (high end products, frozen, cheeses/pate, dry goods) one of the joys of working in food is being able to do a walk through of their walk in and see what's ripe/new. Kinda like showing up at produce row and getting to walk through the building checking out product......usually the produce guys have less time to spend....but concord pears were a wonderful find!

    So, does Italy not import cheeses from England? or other EU countries?
     
  16. someday

    someday

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    I'm lucky to have recently moved to Vermont and have been experiencing some wonderful cheeses.

    Can't wait for fairer weather so I may travel and take tours of the facilities. I guess I COULD do it know but I think it's more of a nice weather event.
     
  17. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    some dairies dry their animals for a few months.....Goatsbeard produces milk/cheese mid-March-Nov. ish....
     
  18. marzoli

    marzoli

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    Thanks for all your responses! It's a lot of help.
     
  19. markv

    markv

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    Good Advice Scott.

    It's the "Pearls before Swine" precaution.

    I learned that the hard way wasting very expensive wine on friends who couldn't appreciate it, and worse yet, didn't want to.

    Mark
     
  20. jjdeep

    jjdeep

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    So, does Italy not import cheeses from England? or other EU countries?


    Italian people as a whole are more regional than nationalistic. your not so much an italian, as you are a sicilian, calabrese or piedmontesi(sp?) and cheese is the same way..... when your in sicily, don't expect to find a talleggio from the north, or possibly even some parmagiano reggiano.... you would be sure to find some local styles of cheeses, ragusano, and the like.