In my humble opinion, cheese is the ultimate holiday entertaining food. It comes ready-made, requires minimal fuss and its creaminess adds an extravagance to any holiday table. Always make sure to have some wheels in the freezer that you can pop on a cheese plate at a moment's notice to make even your unexpected guests feel spoiled.
A cheese board can be as simple as one cheese with a couple of pairings, or more elaborate like the ones below. Follow these simple tips and ideas to take your holiday entertaining up a notch or two.
Selecting the Cheese
Offer a variety of flavours and textures. Soft, aged, smokey, sweet. For example our Holiday Brie (a bit sweet), Aged Gruyère with Cumin Seed, Garlic and Fine Herbs (soft) and Pub Cheddar (a bit sharper). Served softer cheeses like our Garlic and Fine Herbs or Sun Dried Tomato and Basil flavours in a simple small dish or a wide mouthed mason jar. This gives the plate a bit of an earthy simple feel and it allows the cheese to take centre stage.
How Much is Enough?
Plan for 3 to 4 ounces per guest. That is approximately half a container per person. So if you are expecting 6-8 people, 3 or 4 cheeses should provide enough for all of your guests to enjoy.
Offer a selection of breads and crackers. You may want to include at least one gluten free option such as rice crackers, Mary's crackers or apple or pear slices.
Choose two or three preserved condiments that pair well with your cheese selections. A few of our favourites are: Garlic Scape and Jalapeño Jelly from The Garlic Pantry, Pickled Beans from Top Shelf Preserves, Caper and Kalamata Tapenade from The Garlic Box and Sun Dried Kalamata Olives.
Other sweet and salty foods pair well with your fauxmages as well. Try adding some Gusta Sausage rounds (their new Montrealien style is fantastic), Yves deli slices or veggie path to make your board more charcuterie style. Dried apricots or figs a make welcome addition to traditional grapes. Spiced or Candied nuts are also a fun addition. Check out this post for more tips on Charcuterie Boards.
Zengarry Serving Tips
Label each cheese. Make sure to identify allergy risks, nut allergies in particular.
Have a separate cheese knife for each cheese.
Place your fauxmage directly onto the cheeseboard from the refrigerator. They can soften and be a bit of a challenge to transfer onto the board if they've been out of the fridge for a while.
Serve the Brie style flavours at room temperature. The flavour is mellower and the texture creamier when they are a bit softer.
Use layers and platters of different heights for interest and impact.
If you're having several guests put place the cheese platters on more than one table to avoid guest gridlock.
Of course pairing your fauxmages with your favourite wines and artisanal beers is always popular.