Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and Saxelby Cheesemongers is here with some expert tips to creating a deliciously crowd pleasing cheese plate! There’s no better way to keep hungry family and guests at bay while you’re in the kitchen cooking up a storm… Or if you have the restraint to wait for cheese until after dinner (we know you’re out there!) – we can’t think of a better gustatory intermission between eating that big bird and dessert.
A fresh cheese is a perfect way to lead off your cheese board – the dominant flavors in young, fresh cheeses are typically mild, bright, tart, tangy, and sometimes just a touch yeasty – paving the way on your tastebuds for stronger flavors to come. Saxelby’s Sozzled Pearl – our seasonal special button of fresh goat and cows’ milk cheese wrapped in bourbon-soaked grape leaves is a lovely choice for the holidays! Beautiful, festive, and delicious to boot! In terms of beverage pairings, think champagne, soft white wines like sauvignon blanc, or Belgian saison-style beers.
A creamy cheese is a must for any cheese plate! There’s just something ‘come hither’ about a soft spreadable cheese that the human cheese-loving brain cannot resist. This year, try Harbison, a soft and gooey cows’ milk cheese from Jasper Hill Farm that is bound with a balsa bark girdle. The bark imparts some incredibly savory flavors to the already mushroomy and cauliflowery cheese – think mustard seed, juniper berries, and smoked meat. We recommend buying a whole wheel, sticking a spoon in it, and just going to town! For delicious drinking partners, think spicy and sinewy or even slightly funky red wines – Anjou or oddballs from the Val d’Aosta are great choices, or if you’re feeling adventurous, try a smoked beer alongside!
Every cheese plate needs a wild card – and in our humble estimation, you couldn’t choose a better cheese that Square Cheese from Twig Farm. This semi-firm goat cheese defies easy categorization – its rind is covered in downy gray mold (which you should absolutely eat!) and the flavors in the cheese range from goat musk to a fall leaf pile to pine resin. Throwing in a wild card will delight those who love the weird and wonderful, and it will challenge your cheese newbies to try something new and different! For pairings try reds from the Loire Valley like gamay, or honeyed chenin blanc or riesling.
After the creamier cheeses, your guests’ appetites will be whet for something a bit bigger, bolder, and more intense! We recommend Marieke 2 Year Gouda from Holland’s Family Farm in Wisconsin. This extra aged gouda is firm, robust, and butterscotchy-sweet – a cheesy guilty pleasure that you’d be remiss to miss! Other flavor highlights include toasted nuts, burnt caramel, and broth. To drink don’t be afraid to bust out the big guns! Bold, dark, high octane beers such as imperial ales are a good choice, as are ports, sherries, and bold reds like syrah.
Not all blues are created equal! We know some are apt to shy away from blue cheese, which is why we’ve chosen a friendly, creamy version for this roundup. Our Kind of Blue from Woodcock Farm is modeled on a gorgonzola dolce recipe – it is a milky, mushroomy, and fudgy blue that could be a gateway cheese for those blue-fearing folks in your circle of family and friends. This mellow but intensely satisfying blue is best paired with sweeter white wines like muscat our sauternes, jammy reds such as barbera or dolcetto, or on the beer side, something toasty like Blue Point’s toasted lager