Monday, October 5, 2009

Expand Your Entertaining With A Cheese Board

By Arthur Butler

Here is a idea for your next party that is both simple and elegant. It does not require extraordinary amount work and yet you must add quite a bit of thought to the little course of a meal that is called a cheese board. Add one to your next dinner party.

A cheese plate is not just a cheese platter. It consists of cheeses that have been chosen very carefully and then prepared in a way to prepare the appetites of your guests. The platter can be served as either the appetizer, main course or even desert. Here are a few things to consider when preparing a cheese platter.

As you select the cheeses for the board, be sure that you have no more than half a dozen different ones. They should vary in texture as well as appearance and taste. Plan the plate according to a theme. Some ideas include by a country, by different milks or even by the season. Vary the tastes on the board from mild to strong. This allows guests to begin with the mild and effort their way up to the strongest. Try to add visual appeal by varying shapes, colors and sizes of cheese. If you need a splash of color add fresh fruit.

Of course wine and cheese make the perfect complement to a cheese board, as long as they are not strongly flavored so that they compete with the cheese rather than complement it. Everything you choose should cause the guest to appreciate the diversity that you have incorporated into the cheese platter. Fruit and nuts are subtle flavors that will enhance the cheeses. They also add additional color for visual appeal and texture for the tongue.

Be sure that have a different knife for each cheese presented on the cheese plate. Soft cheeses need broad blades for spreading while hard cheeses need sharp knives for cutting.

Leave enough space between the cheeses in order for them not to mix. This is especially important with soft cheeses that may spread as they reach room temperature. Cheeses with a strong aroma should not be next to those with a mild smell. Smaller cheeses should be placed in the center, then the soft cheeses. Hard cheeses should be placed around the edges so they can be reached for easy cutting.

Most cheeses taste best when at room temperature so make plans to allow the cheese board to reach that temperature. It will take at least one hour (longer for hard cheeses) for the cheese to reach room temperature. Watch softer cheeses so that they do not become too soft. Keep the cheeses covered while they are brought to room temperature. You do not want them to dry out and discolor. Remove the wraps just before serving the cheese plate.

While a simple idea, a cheese platter is very elegant also. It adds class to any meal. It is a chance to show off your artistic and creative abilities while meeting the taste needs of your guests. Try serving one at your next evening party. Your guests will appreciate it.

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