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Amount of cheese per person at a "wine tasting"


Fat Guy
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I've been tasked with acquiring the cheese for an event that is being called a wine tasting but is really more like a wine-and-cheese cocktail party with wine not cocktails. There will be a bunch of different wines, cheeses, crackers, olives, etc. Not a meal.

How much cheese for 50 people in this format?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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The choice of cheese and how it is served matters as well.

Will it just be a board with cheeses and knives and an assortment of bread/crackers... or will the cheeses be pre-chunked with toothpicks sticking out of them... or will it be transformed into cheese-centric canapes already garnished and ready to pop into the mouth?

Will there be any strong/runny Epoisses-y cheeses there... will there be extremely flavorful cheeses like aged gouda or parmigiana or gorgonzola? In a cheese and crackers situation, you'll get a lot more mileage out of something strongly flavored than you will out of a block of Colby.

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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The cheeses will be on the level of Cabot cheddar. Because the event is at a synagogue, choices are limited to cheeses being produced with kosher supervision. That narrows the field but does still leave options. But I think it's safe to say there won't be anything wildly exotic or even Epoisses.

I haven't figured out the chunks/toothpicks versus cheese board issue yet. If one encourages less consumption than the other, that may be the way to go.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I don't pre-portion cheeses for catering unless they're for really large events where it would create the probability of a line for people to have to cut their own pieces. I have beautiful cheese knives that I set out and I find people enjoy using them to select their own cheeses. The only drawback is that lots of people will just hack at the cheeses. I know other caterers who preportion everything, but I find it hard to do so attractively, and I think it will result in needing more cheese on offer and having cheese deteriorate more quickly (more cut surfaces and all).

Also, no runny cheeses. They are delicious but also impossible to finesse for people trying to stand up and juggle snacks and a wine glass.

Putting together completed canapes in advance leads to deterioration of the base (it absorbs liquid/fat and gets soggy/stale). Plus, lots of people really prefer to assemble their own. I only do canapes if servers will be passing the finished product on a tray.

If I am stuck with serving more ordinary cheeses, I try to at least offer a special garnish with them. I make brandied fruits and also have a lovely sour cherry chutney I put up last summer that makes a commercially produced brie feel a lot more special. You can also pick up some kind of delicious and Kosher honey or jam to set out with the cheeses.

I'd recommend 3-4oz per person. You can supplement with nuts, olives, pickly things along with the bread and crackers.

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I'd also add that people eat less cheese if you serve really good ones. Lesser cheeses encourage people to eat more because they're chasing the sensation they get from eating something with real integrity. I can eat a lot more industrial cheddar than I can of a high-quality aged farmhouse cheddar.

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The least amount I am comfortable with is 3 oz. per person. I do not cut into cubes or slices generally. However, I do cut my wheels or wedges into 3 or 4 portions, and I will hold one portion back to refresh the board later if need be. Then if a cheese is not popular there is less waste. You can group the 2 or 3 wedges of a couple cheese together so people can easily see they are duplicates, or you can spread them out so it would look like more variety.

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The least amount I am comfortable with is 3 oz. per person.

I agree. 3-4 if that's all there is. I agree with Malawry about things like honey, always fabulous with cheese, or preserved fruits of some sort. Infused simple syrups (e.g., with rosemary or other herbs) are also really nice; just dribble them over. Salted marconas. If you can have crostini, that's handy with the more syrupy, fruity things.

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