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Create your most desirable cheese plate:restaurant


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real cheeses, both foreign and domestic, in all their flavorful, aromatic glory, began to appear on restaurant menus and in the deli cases at upscale gourmet shops ... changes in restaurants followed suit.  As diners became more sophisticated consumers and a greater selection of American regional and international cheeses could be located ... By the mid-Nineties, a few upscale major market restaurants (New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New Orleans) began to offer cheese boards, carefully chosen selections of cheeses for both appetizers and dessert accompanied by wine pairings.
source for this: Austin Chronicle

Just mulling over the trend of offering a cheese plate at the end of the meal in a restaurant ...

Which cheeses would you serve? How many?

Accompanying wines?

Other items for a cheese plate?

Has the time come in America and are we sophisticated enough to try to make these offerings?

Can a less-than-large metropolis pull this off successfully?

What do you think?

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Has the time come in America and are we sophisticated enough to try to make these offerings?

Can a less-than-large metropolis pull this off successfully?

What do you think?

How about a restaurant serving nothing but cheese & charcuterie?

Salt Tasting Room - Vancouver, BC

I guess we're just early adopters ... :raz:

A.

Edited by Daddy-A (log)
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Just mulling over the trend of offering a cheese plate at the end of the meal in a restaurant ...

Which cheeses would you serve? How many?

Accompanying wines?

Other items for a cheese plate?

Has the time come in America and are we sophisticated enough to try to make these offerings?

Can a less-than-large metropolis pull this off successfully?

What do you think?

Hmm... been experimenting with the cheese plates concepts here (Wash DC). I like the idea; gives an opportunity to try cheeses that fall into the "if you like that, try this..." category.

A recent example served with crostini, wafers, tuilles (etc) and a fruit paste like pear, quince and/or apple butter.

- Port Salut

- Manchego

- Forme d'Ambert

- Guinness/White Cheddar (I think; don't know exactly)

- Baked Brie

- Chevre with lemon zest

The plate is filled in with thin slices of crisp apples (different varieties).

About wine pairings ( :blink: ), that's the next trick. With all the different notes on a plate like this, I have no clue... but three glasses - Cab, a Riesling, and a Gruener Veltliner - accompany the set.

Perhaps a sommelier could weigh in with some advice?

Edited by C_Ruark (log)
"There's something very Khmer Rouge about Alice Waters that has become unrealistic." - Bourdain; interviewed on dcist.com
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real cheeses, both foreign and domestic, in all their flavorful, aromatic glory, began to appear on restaurant menus and in the deli cases at upscale gourmet shops ... changes in restaurants followed suit.  As diners became more sophisticated consumers and a greater selection of American regional and international cheeses could be located ... By the mid-Nineties, a few upscale major market restaurants (New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New Orleans) began to offer cheese boards, carefully chosen selections of cheeses for both appetizers and dessert accompanied by wine pairings.
source for this: Austin Chronicle

Just mulling over the trend of offering a

...

cheese plate at the end of the meal in a restaurant !!! remeber to serve it before the dessert

Which cheeses would you serve? How many?

6 pcs.

dunno what cheeses but for min. one Blue and one red coated

Accompanying wines?

Port wine

Other items for a cheese plate?

Some sweete bread like figbread

Has the time come in America and are we sophisticated enough to try to make these offerings?

dont you?

Can a less-than-large metropolis pull this off successfully?

yes

What do you think?

you missed something for a long time if you serve food that can be served with cheese in a menu.. like i would not put cheese in a china or thai menu

Edited by Gilb3rt (log)

Best regards,

Gilbert

Food blog - www.floss.dk

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I'm really just getting into cheese plates, but I like to see different animals represented, as well. One goat cheese, one sheep and a couple of cows milk. Definitely a blue. For wine, (and I'll probably make some wine person go screaming for cover) I like ice wine. I also like nuts on my cheese plate. Walnuts and marcona almonds especially.

Stop Family Violence

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Lately, I went to try a new tapas place and they, quite naturally, put out a lovely assortment of Spanish cheeses:

gallery_10011_1589_327205.jpg

also on this plate were guava paste, almonds, a date, and a special type of honey with spices ...

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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I rarely order cheese plates at restaurants, but I like to have them with special meals at home. My rule is: more than three cheeses are too many. For a three-cheese plate, one goat, one sheep, one cow, with at least one of those blue. I like to have contrasting textures as well - I wouldn't want a cheese plate that had three soft-ripened cheeses. I like to drink port with a dessert cheese plate, and I like to have nuts and dried fruit with it. A little bit of good-quality dark chocolate to finish, with the last bit of that port.

"There is nothing like a good tomato sandwich now and then."

-Harriet M. Welsch

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I haven't experienced many cheese plates, but the few I have seen had goat cheese with cinnamon and cranberries in it. I loved that cheese so much that i would splurge on a log of it every week at the store. Now I can't find it anymore. Has anyone out there seen this piece of heaven lately? :sad:

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The inherent problem with cheese plates isnt the number of cheeses but one dimensional pairings.

I rarely see cheese plates in which all the accompanying ingredients are not sweet.

The achilles heel of most well intended food compositions is that just because you taste certain things together doesnt mean they work.

For some reason, people seem to think cheeses need honeys, jellys, chutneys, membrillo and what not.

Manchego for example tastes a lot better with pesto than with truffle honey or membrillo.

If most people would simply stop cheese with overwhelming sweet stuff, it would be more about the cheese.

3 cheeses are not enough for a cheeseplate, 6 is probably too many so the magic number is 4 or 5.

Sheep Zamorano

Blue St Agur

Soft ripened La Tur

Goat cabecou

Complex Sottocenere

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Matcha Eyes, was the goat cheese a 4 oz log? It was probably Montchevre brand. Theyhave a great website www.montchevre.com, where you could look for a retailer near you.

For a restaurant cheese plate, I don't like to see more than 4 unless you are someplace like Artisinal or Picholine where they really know their stuff. My pet peeve is that restauranteurs think this is an easy thing to pull off and waitstaff tend to be clueless as to the products. They mispronounce, misidentify, and essentially have no info on the cheeses. A good restaurant has a sommelier or, in a small restaurant, a member of the waitstaff who specializes in wine. They should have the same for cheese. In fact, the American Cheese Society is beginning to offer a cheese certification program.

Disclaimer: I am in the cheese business, so tend to ask the waitstaff questions that I know the answers to. I don't quiz them, Jeopardy-style, but just ask some basic questions, i.e. what kind of milk, where is it from, etc. They are usually not up to the task. Once I had a fight with a restaurant, as the cheese I was served was not what was on the menu. I asked the server to please speak with the chef to find out what it really was. (I already knew.) She came back and said the chef was adamant that it was the cheese as advertised. This bothers me, as diners may not know the difference, and come away thinking they ate a particular cheese.

Anyhow, that's my rant - one of my big pet peeves.

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Disclaimer:  I am in the cheese business, so tend to ask the waitstaff questions that I know the answers to.  I don't quiz them, Jeopardy-style, but just ask some basic questions, i.e. what kind of milk, where is it from, etc.  They are usually not up to the task.  Once I had a fight with a restaurant, as the cheese I was served was not what was on the menu.  I asked the server to please speak with the chef to find out what it really was. (I already knew.)  She came back and said the chef was adamant that it was the cheese as advertised.  This bothers me, as diners may not know the difference, and come away thinking they ate a particular cheese.

Anyhow, that's my rant - one of my big pet peeves.

G,

What are some guidelines for producing a decent plate? Can you recommend an online resource for cheese research?

Thanks!

~C

"There's something very Khmer Rouge about Alice Waters that has become unrealistic." - Bourdain; interviewed on dcist.com
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I am not sure of a good online resource - many sites are sponsored by regional milk marketing boards, so they are chauvanistic about their local products.

I am a big fan of a book by Max McCalman called "The Cheese Plate". It's a great resource about cheese in general, with beautiful photos. But there is a large section that discusses the general principals of putting together a cheese course or a tasting board, including wine and accompaniments. It includes many suggested cheese courses, including themes like nationalities, blues, seasonality, etc. It is a book I use often when I do cheese trainings and have given it as a gift many times.

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You may well be interested in this: Preparing Cheese Plates: Splendid Table

The cheeses should be chosen to represent a balanced spectrum of cheese types and textures, and cut into a portion size that reflects how the cheese plate fits into the scheme of your entertaining or dining plans. Arrange the cheese portions equidistant on the plate close to the outer rim. Then, in between them, arrange the accompaniments - whole or sliced fresh fruit, dried or fresh berries, paper-thin slices of cured meat, a thin slice of fruit paste, some glistening olives, or a scattering of toasted nuts.

just a bit more information ...

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Ok, say I want to serve a cheese board at my next dinner party. This is a casual gathering of my own family and another -- 8-10 people, including kids. We don't drink alcohol. My questions:

--WHEN do I serve the cheese? Before dessert? Instead of dessert?

--Do I try not to have cheese be a noticeable part of any other dish in the meal? Does that matter?

-- How do we handle the practicalities of eating a soft cheese like brie? I have a set of spreaders that go with my flatware. Do I include one in the place setting for each eater and encourage them to use those for spreading brie on fruit slices? Related questions: Does one eat all of the cheeses with one's fingers or with a utensil? Which one?

I've been including cheese boards in some of my dinner parties/family dinners for about a year, largely inspired by Lucy/bleu d'auvergne. I have a limited budget and access to cheese, so much of what I get is from Sam's Club and from the odd "gourmet" shop. Here is what I usually do:

--Arrange 3-5 cheeses on a plate -- most often a brie or similar in a wedge, Cabot cheddar (from Sam's Club, broken into rough chunks), a wedge of bleu (bleu d'auvergne is my favorite), Sam's Club goat cheese crumbled into a ramekin (or sometimes blended with herbs or something), and something mild like Havarti or Port Salut. I set this plate out about 2 hours before dinner -- experience has taught me to hide it or the guests think it is a before dinner nibble-thing.

--After the main dish/accompaniments, I bring out the cheese plate (one large one -- called a board on Gifted Gourmet's sites) with dessert plates for each eater and usually a plate of sliced apples or pears and/or grape clusters (or a bowl of whole fruit and assorted paring knives if I'm in a hurry). I usually leave the bread basket on the table. Sometimes The Husband gets some crackers, but for some reason they don't appeal to me when we have cheese during the meal.

--I identify the cheeses for everyone. The crowd I entertain isn't very knowledgeable -- often someone has never heard of Havarti, for example, so I say what each is and tell a bit about its characteristics.

This has been very well received by everyone, but I wonder about my questions above. I'll appreciate any help or advice anyone who knows more than me (and that's probably just about all of you) has to offer.

Edited by Lori in PA (log)

~ Lori in PA

My blog: http://inmykitcheninmylife.blogspot.com/

My egullet blog: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=89647&hl=

"Cooking is not a chore, it is a joy."

- Julia Child

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Lori --

The cheese is traditionally served after the main course and before dessert. I won't serve cheese as an hors d'oeuvre or significant part of another course, but that's just my prefernece: I like to build the anticipation. We usually eat the cheese spread on bread; when I have seen cheese eaten without bread, people usually use a fork (or a straw, in the case of something particularly runny :wink: ) You sound like you're doing a great job, next time you come to DC, let us know and we'll let you know where to by some great stuff that Sam's has never heard of. (Great thing about France: their version of Sam's Club has an amazing cheese selection)

That being said, I am deeply suspicious of any suggestions of the "correct" way to assemble and serve a cheese course. Follow a couple rules of thumbs that have already been mentioned here -- vary milk and texture, for example -- put the cheese on the plate and pass it around. I usually just wander over to the cheese counter and decide what I'm in the mood for the day of the dinner. Cheese is a great part of the meal, particularly if I'm cooking: after all the work and intensity of the first courses, it's a chance to sit back, relax, and finish off the dinner wine. Maybe with a salad. Maybe with some fruit, or fruit compote-y things. Since you're probably serving a variety of cheeses, the wine selection is almost irrelevant: what single wine is a "perfect" match for a French blue, a Spanish sheep's cheese and a California Chevre? (appropos of Vadouvan's suggestion for savory accompaniments, slapping some oil-cured sun-drieds on chevre turns out quite well. Also try roast peppers.)

The proper way to serve cheese is the way you enjoy it most. No points will be deducted for not following the book.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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... I am a big fan of a book by Max McCalman called "The Cheese Plate".  It's a great resource about cheese in general, with beautiful photos.  But there is a large section that discusses the general principals of putting together a cheese course or a tasting board, including wine and accompaniments... It is a book I use often when I do cheese trainings and have given it as a gift many times.

Many thanks for the book reference, G. I've got my bookseller placing an order. Hmm... give as a gift... thanks also for a great holiday idea!

"There's something very Khmer Rouge about Alice Waters that has become unrealistic." - Bourdain; interviewed on dcist.com
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This has been very well received by everyone, but I wonder about my questions above. I'll appreciate any help or advice anyone who knows more than me (and that's probably just about all of you) has to offer.

I don't know about that, Lori. I agree with Busboy - sounds like you've figured out a great approach that works well for you. I like the way you have worked cheese into your entertaining, so who cares about rules?

I like to do the passable platter/tray best, rather than trying to plate everyone's selection - too fussy that way, altho it certainly works in a restaurant. I think eating cheese is very convivial, so a tray with cheeses and accompaniments, followed by a bread board, is a casual and fun way to end an evening.

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Thanks for the replies. I don't care overmuch about the "rules," but I'd hate to be doing anything glaringly wrong. About Sam's cheese -- I know there are lots of cheeses "he's" never heard of, but my budget is pretty limited, so Sam and I will need to continue our aquaintance. Tell me this, though: today I bought a wedge of "Genuine Port Salut," which is a registered trademark owned by SAFR, Fromageries Bel's affiliate. It is a product of France. Is this really port salut cheese? If it it, does the fancy little D.C. fromagerie have port salut that is better? (I paid $6.77/lb.)

~ Lori in PA

My blog: http://inmykitcheninmylife.blogspot.com/

My egullet blog: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=89647&hl=

"Cooking is not a chore, it is a joy."

- Julia Child

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Well, I definitely break one rule, as my foodblog should demonstrate: I serve cheese as an appetizer.

If it were up to Vince or me, it'd be the main course as well.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Great thread. I've lurked, listened, read & enjoyed. NowI just have to put my 2 cents in.

I agree with most of what's been said & I like Lori's approach. I definitly agree that it needs to be a cheese board/platter not individual servings. You do need to tell everyone what each cheese is. (You can actually buy little ceramic notice boards that you can write & erase on if you want to get fancy about it.)

In the UK they normally serve various dry crackers with cheese. In France they serve bread. Both countries normally offer butter with the cheese course as well; one of the few times you see butter on the table in France. You can either use the crackers/bread to place the cheese on or with hard cheeses go directly to the mouth with your fingers or slightly more politely, use a fork.

Traditional accompaniments are sliced apples or pears, some times fresh figs, grapes, celery, radishes. Very young goats cheeses can be served with a confiture of some type or another nice trick with chevre is to serve with roasted cumin seeds.

Wine is usually red as delicate whites won't stand up. Which red is relatively unimportant so long as its a good one. A special pairing in the Uk is stilton cheese & port. Its one of those combinations born in heaven.

We like to serve a very simple salad afrer the main course & follow that with our cheeses, then dessert.

Selection? Everybody to their own taste I say. What looked good? interesting? when you were buying? Was there a brie at its peak? An exceptional looking cheddar from Vermont? Yes, something soft, something hard, something cow, something sheep, something goat, something yellow, something blue is a good rule, but meant to be broken. 4-6 types are plently for the average dinner unless you have lots of people or a really stong interest in cheeses.

The cheese boards of France never cease to amaze & delight me even after all these years. I still remember going to an Anan Ducasse restaurant where they brought out over 15 cheeses. All from within 25 miles of the restaurant.

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Lori, I am about 99% sure that all Port Salut is made by SAFR in France. They own the trademark, so there is only one option.

Mark, I don't think there are any rules about serving cheese - I often serve as part of an appetizer course - the problem is the people love cheese and tend to fill up on it before you serve the main course. When it's served after the meal, it seems to be savored a bit more.

Hi, Dave. I'm back in the States and missing my Fete des Fromages!

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Something along the lines of this...not really a cheese plate, more of a cheese board!

gallery_25807_982_24044.jpg

From left to right (what I can remember, and not to be eaten in that order!)

Smoked Gouda, Aged Brie, Cambonzola, Unpasturized Goat cheese, 2 types of Peccorino, Petit Basque (SP?)

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Hi,

De-lurking here. We are farmers with the possibility of adding cows to our new place. With that in mind we spent a recent week doing cheese evaluation, tasting and making. We refined the blues down to this list and presented it to a group of foodies. Shropshire was the favorite.

2000 Steele Zinfandel Port Pacini Vineyard, Mendocino Coast

Amish blue Iowa Schwart

Smooth palette, strong flavor

Colton Bassett Stilton

Mild subtle creamy not over powering, the most subtle, ivory color

Colton Bassett Shropshire Blue

nutty, salty, creamy, fine crystal, fuller flavor, orange color

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