Arranging a Cheese Tasting Party

Today is National Cheese Lover’s Day, National Buttercrunch Day and National Granola Bar Day

Arranging a Cheese Tasting Party

I am a huge lover of cheese. Take me to any party and I head straight to the cheese platter and fully monopolize the wares. There has been occasions, due partly to laziness and partly to my obsession, that I have had a dinner consisting solely of cheese, crackers and the occasional pickle (it’s a vegetable you know).

What I think I love best about this wholesome food is that it has so many varieties with a huge range of flavours that everyone, except maybe the lactose intolerant, can find one they enjoy. Hosting a tasting party is a great was to enjoy your favourites and try a few new ones.

Here are a few guidelines you can follow to make the most of your party and to keep you on the right track.

K.I.S.S (Keep it simple silly!)

You’ll see why this is important when you just see the sheer volume of choices available. Without a clear idea what direction you want to go in a cheese arrangement can become a platter of mismatched tastes and textures that will only confuse and quite frankly disappoint yourself. Consider these ides:

Textures: Cheeses are like people, they can be soft, semi soft or firm. Pick one type and showcase the range of flavours it comes in. You can do the same when picking your guests.

Flavours: Yes the most important part yet the one that can get messed up the easiest. Offering one cheese with flavours from mild to strong is a great example of showing off it’s diversity.

Colours: Yellow, white and blue are all represented in the cheese world.

Themes: No I don’t mean having you guests dress up as 80’s rockers, though it would make for a great party. Cheeses can have themes too. Plan an arrangement around cheeses from the same country or one cheese that is produced differently in many countries. Choose a one colour theme like different blue cheeses or textures like a variety of soft spreadable cheese. And don’t forget cheese comes from different animals as well.

Amounts

Nobody likes a party where the food runs out before all the guests have arrived so make sure you have enough to go around. Hey if you have extra give me a call, I’ll help you with that problem. Here are some basic guidelines for the amount of cheese you will need, but can be adjusted of course if your party consists of supermodels or sumo wrestlers.

  • As an appetizer, 3-4 ounces per person
  • As a main course, 5-6 ounces per person
  • Hors d’oeuvres before a dinner, 4-6 ounces per person
  • Hors d’ouevres at a cocktail party, 5-6 ounces per person
  • If I’m invited, 1 giant block
  • Presentation

    You’ve planned your party, the guests are salivating over the invitations and you have taste tested each cheese personally…many times. Now it’s time to pull it all together.

    Cheese is great on it’s own, but can be better with the right accompaniments. Crackers are suitable if not a bit boring but make sure that you don’t get the fancy ones with flavours that will over power your main attraction. Putting out bowls of nuts, olives, grapes and figs is a nice light touch that with help cleanse the palate between cheeses. Wine is also hugely popular and can definitely be added as a thematic element but sometimes you just want it to be about the cheese.

    Take the cheeses out of the refrigerator 1 ½ hours before they are to be served. They need to be at room temperature to fully enjoy their tastes, but make sure they are wrapped tightly with plastic to keep them from drying out and to keep your greedy little fingers away. And never have your cheese cut ahead of time for all the same reasons.

    You can present them on a large platter or individuals ones, that’s totally up to your decorating style. Have a knife for each hard cheese (and to use on any guests that seem to think a 3 inches slab is a serving) and a spoon for scooping each soft cheese as well as plates for your guests to load up.

    What ever you end up trying don’t get to caught up in the right or wrong. It’s about gathering close friends and family together to share a love for the amazing flavours that cheese has to offer and each others company. Remember as long as there are cows, sheep, goats and buffalo around their will always be cheese so there will always be more parties. Because you know practice makes perfect.

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